Sabbathday Lake to Bald Hill Road

RoyalRiver_SabbathdayLaketoBaldHillRd_2016_largeSabbathday Lake to Bald Hill Road (Fairgrounds), and the Chandler Mill Pond in New Gloucester

The uppermost reaches of the Royal River and its headwater ponds include beautiful quiet flatwater paddling trips and great fishing, along with some trails along the shoreline.  Most of the Royal River in this area is NOT suitable for paddling, so read information below carefully.

Printable PDF Map


Paddling Guide

Shaker Village
Working forests and farms surrounding the village are protected by conservation easements with public access. Please avoid orchards and active farm operations.  Please respect sensitive ecology and unstable berms if exploring the Shaker Bog by paddle, from an access point on Route 26.

The Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village hosts a variety of festivals, tours, classes, and guided walks on village trails.

Sabbathday Lake
Boat access for a small fee is available at Outlet Beach, along with family-friendly swimming and seasonal food. There is no paddling connection between the lake and the river.  Please help enforce a culture of respect and cleanliness along the conserved shoreline.

Outlet Road to Tobey Road
Paddling this shallow stretch of river downriver from the Outlet Rd bridge is nearly impossible requiring near-constant portages around fallen trees and beaver dams; not recommended even for bushwhackers.  From Tobey Road paddling upriver, the river is accessible upriver for a half mile paddling against only a minor current, good for fishing and birding.

Tobey Road to Bald Hill Road (Fairgrounds)
The two mile stretch (four miles round trip, or shuttle) from Tobey Rd downriver to Bald Hill Rd (Fairgrounds) in New Gloucester is flat with a minor current, easily paddled (but see notes below) in either direction by novices.  One larger beaver dam requires a short portage, roughly half-way between the two roads.  Other beaver dams come and go and may require a portage, especially at low water levels.  Low water levels may also frustrate the full trip.   Other old beaver dams and shoreline trees and alders are navigable (no need to get out of boats in 2014, but summer 2016 is an issue), though bring a hand-saw in case of recent fallen trees. Roughly half of this segment is pond formed by the dam at Bald Hill Rd. Hand-carry boat launches at either end have adequate parking.   At low water levels plan to start and end at the Fairgrounds.  The river near Tobey Rd is narrow; alders will  brush in paddlers’ faces when fully leafed-out. The clear water is stocked with fish; gravel and pine banks provide locations for picnics. The river passes under the Turnpike with clearance. Skaters and skiiers should be especially cautious under the Turnpike bridge, and near the dam.   In 2016 the Town improved the Fairgrounds public water access with a hand-carry boat ramp, free canoes and kayaks, and more.  Funding for the public access project came from the Royal River Conservation Trust, LL Bean, and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.  Keys to the padlocks are available at the New Gloucester Library.  Additional information for the New Gloucester Fairgrounds is available online.

Bald Hill Road (Fairgrounds) continuing downriver
Please respect private property and a lack of developed access points, parking, or portage routes around the dam and falls.  This stretch of river is a significant challenge for paddlers due to trees, falls, culverts, and more.

Flowing North Preserve
Downstream from Bald Hill Road, RRCT’s Flowing North Preserve protects habitat, with steep banks and difficult undeveloped access.  This Preserve is a great location for hunting, fishing, or fiddleheads.

Chandler Mill Pond
Maine DIFW’s Chandler Mill Pond provides hand-carry boat access and rainbow trout fishing from a primitive launch off Snow Hill Road.

CAUTION: All rivers require attention to safety.  Paddling conditions vary according to weather and season, so always exercise caution and always wear a life jacket. With good judgment and proper equipment, risks can be reduced. Paddlers should seek to avoid causing erosion, trampling vegetation, disturbing wildlife, and harming water quality.