Friday, August 5, 2016
Androscoggin River, Auburn
Body of Water: Androscoggin River (In downtown Auburn)
Directions: From Portland take 95 north, take exit 75 for Auburn. Turn left onto Rt. 202, for about 4.5 miles, then turn right onto Elm St. Follow Elm St. to Main St. Turn left onto Main Street for about 0.2 miles. After passing the outdoor gathering area turn right onto Miller St. (Not marked well, but it is just before the building that is after the park area.) This will take you to the launch site. There is no parking at the launch site, parking is elsewhere, but you can unload then park. (You could also put Gritty McDuff's Auburn into your GPS and would get to this area!)
Boat Launch: Cement ramp into the water
Parking: This is urban kayaking, parking may be tricky. There is a parking garage with some open outdoor spaces not far from the launch site. This is a screenshot of google earth (thanks google!):
As you can see the parking area is not too far from the launch site. (Confession: I did not want to deal with the small loading/unloading area near the launch after I paddled. I unloaded there and felt like I was in the way, or my truck was...so after paddling, I used my cart and walked my kayak back to my truck. Yup, took my kayak for a walk on Main St. in Auburn! I noticed I was not alone, others did the same thing. Some had parked on the street. Evening parking seemed pretty easy the night I was here.) Next time I think I will park and unload and walk my kayak to the launch site.
Fees: I didn't pay anything for parking, but if you have to park in the garage (clearance 8'2", which I thought was awesome!) I assume there would be a fee, though I was told after a certain hour there are no fees.
Wildlife: Ducks, seagulls (maybe they were confused?).. I would expect perhaps a heron or turtle here too.
Have you ever gone to or heard about the Great Falls Balloon Festival in Auburn? If not, here is a link to their info! Since hearing about it I have also heard of people kayaking in the river as the balloons take off and sometimes the balloons dip down into the river. How cool is that??! It is something I have always wanted to do. The year I was certain I would go and paddle I was told I couldn't because I had just had sinus surgery and bending and lifting was not a good idea... then, a couple years ago I was all in! I got up wicked early and got to Auburn around 5 a.m. (I told you it was early!) I found a launch site and it was still dark... and had rained recently so the water seemed to be high and moving quickly. I was solo...and the rushing water made me nervous. So I decided paddling was not the best idea for that particular day, on a fast moving river that I had never been on, without anyone who had been on it... so instead I sat on the shores and watched the balloons. It was beautiful, but not quite the experience I hoped for.
So, this year, I told myself I was going to do it and that I was going to paddle this part of the river ahead of time so that I felt more confident the day of the balloon festival. As I was doing some research I came upon the Androscoggin Land Trust... Click HERE for their website. They seem to be a pretty good organization. I look forward to learning more about them. On their website I found that they were hosting an event last night, "Paddling After Hours." It was a group paddle followed by drinks, food, and conversation at Gritty McDuff's. What an opportunity!! I got to paddle with people who know the river, gained some confidence for when I return in a couple of weeks, and then got to spend time socializing with other paddlers! It was great. (Paddling people are good people!!)
I am sure my balloon festival adventure will involve more photos, but here are some pictures of the area without balloons!
After launching we headed up river, under the bridge towards the falls. The current under the bridge was pretty strong. I stayed in the middle of the middle underpass and did fine! We approached this old building. I loved the message painted on it, HOPE!
Water levels were low and not much water was coming down.
Looking back towards the launch site and towards other bridges.
This is the mayor of Auburn, Jonathan LaBonte. He took time to speak to the group about some of the history of Auburn and the history of the river. (I know little about his politics, but he seems intelligent, is well spoken, and was paddling with us, so... as I said, paddling people are good people!)
Thought this would be a good campaign photo!! Ha!
This is some of the crew heading wawy from the falls, back down the river.
I like this photo a lot, not sure why!
This is Festival Park. (Easily seen on the google earth screenshot above) Some people carried their canoes/kayaks down the stairs here. It is a cool area. There was a sign that they have free outdoor concerts there every Wednesday.
Some of the paddlers looking in towards some of the canals.
It was pretty.
I am not sure how many people were paddling, but I would guess 25 or so! Nice group!
I had to take this photo. As you may know I follow a group on facebook called "Church of the Doublebladed Paddle" and I thought this was appropriate!
More access to the canals, which apparently, at one point were paddle-able, but has been blocked off by the company that manages the dams. The mayor said there are talks about regaining access, which would be VERY cool!
Canal entrances! Beautiful stonework!
Spiderwebs guarded the entrances...
This is another launch site... I think it is called Little Andy Park... which I believe is accessed via Mill St. This is the place I had gone to a couple years ago, but in darkness and high water and now knowing where on the river I would come out, proved too risky for me. But now I would feel more confident.
This is a walking bridge that crosses the river.
This is the launch site in the front, with Gritty's in the back!
Where else can you paddle and have immediate access to a great pub?
Thank you to the ALT (Androscoggin Land Trust) for hosting this event and for the work you do. I hope to join future paddling events!