This segment of the Royal River Water Trail consists of the uppermost reaches of the Royal River and its headwater ponds. Visitors can enjoy beautiful, quiet flatwater paddling trips and great fishing, along with some trails along the shoreline. Sections within this segment that are suitable for paddling include the Shaker Bog, Sabbathday Lake, Chandler Mill Pond, and the stretch of the Royal River from the Tobey Road boat launch to the New Gloucester Fairgrounds boat launches. Free boats at the Fairgrounds (keys at the library) allow for an easy and fun trip beginning at the Fairgrounds, traveling upstream to Tobey Road, and returning. Other sections of the Royal River in this area are not suitable for paddling, so please read the information below carefully before planning your trip.
Maps & Guides
- Map: Sabbathday Lake to New Gloucester Fairgrounds – Downloadable PDF
- Brochure: Sabbathday Lake to New Gloucester Fairgrounds –Downloadable PDF
- Royal River Water Trail at Maine Trail Finder
Boat Access Points & Trip Segments
- Shaker Bog
Please respect sensitive ecology and unstable berms if exploring the Shaker Bog by paddle or hiking on a half-mile shoreline trail. The bog can be reached from an access point on Route 26, off the western (southbound) shoulder, just north of Shaker Village. If heading north on Route 26, the driveway is on the left, just north of the Shaker village. Parking is available at the end of a short steep unmarked driveway off Route 26, or on the southbound shoulder itself. (The driveway is just south of a large billboard facing north.) Plan to carry your boat about 200 feet on an old service road between the parking area and the bog. A bit more information on the bog and its hiking trail is here.
- Sabbathday Lake
There is boat access at Sabbathday Lake for a small fee at the privately owned Outlet Beach, along with family-friendly swimming and seasonal food. The beach is open from Memorial Day through mid-September at 106 Outlet Rd, New Gloucester, ME. Pets and smoking are not allowed. Please help enforce a culture of respect and cleanliness along the conserved shoreline. Note that there is no paddling connection between Sabbathday Lake and the Royal River. The narrow outlet and the stretch of river for the next few miles is not good paddling due to fallen trees and more. There is free legal access to fish the outlet DOWNSTREAM from the road, with short trails for anglers leaving the road’s guardrails.
- Upstream from Royal River boat access point at Tobey Road
From the boat launch at Tobey Road the river is accessible upriver only for about a half mile. Though short, the trip makes for good fishing and birding. Visitors can paddle upstream against only a minor current. Note that paddling any further upstream than this, toward Sabbathday Lake, is nearly impossible. The river becomes brush-choked and there are numerous fallen trees and beaver dams any further than about half a mile upstream of the boat launch at Tobey Road.
- Recommended Round Trip: New Gloucester Fairgrounds Boat Launch to/from Tobey Road boat access point
The two mile stretch of the Royal River from the boat launch at Tobey Rd to the Fairgrounds is relatively flat, with a minor current. This segment can be paddled upstream from the Fairgrounds, downstream from Tobey Road, or round trip. There are hand-carry boat launches with adequate parking at either end. A limited number of canoe and kayaks and paddling gear are available for rent for free at the New Gloucester Fairgrounds (keys at Library). Contact the New Gloucester Public Library for details. This stretch is easily paddled in either direction by novices at higher water levels, though note that one larger beaver dam roughly half-way through this segment does require a short portage. Roughly half of this segment is a pond formed by the dam at Bald Hill Road. The clear water is stocked with fish, and gravel and pine banks provide good locations for picnics. The river passes under the Turnpike with clearance.
- A Note on Low Water Levels. At low water levels it is best to start and end your trip on at the Fairgrounds – low water can frustrate a full trip of this segment. Beaver dams appear and disappear seasonally and may require a portage. Older beaver dams, shoreline trees, and alders are navigable, though recently fallen trees may require a portage. Paddling upstream as you approach Tobey Road, the river narrows and alders could brush in paddlers’ faces when fully leafed-out.
- Chandler Mill Pond
Chandler Mill Pond in New Gloucester is one of the Royal River’s few headwater ponds. Though one cannot paddle between the Royal River and the pond, there is a hand carry boat launch access to Chandler Mill Pond, which has a history of exceptional trout fishing. Learn more HERE.
- Downstream of the New Gloucester Fairgrounds
This stretch of river is not suitable for paddling. The dam and falls at Bald Hill Road require a portage, but there is no portage route due to private property and a lack of developed access points. Past the falls downstream is not any easier, with downed trees and culverts, again making any this segment unsuitable for paddling downstream from the New Gloucester Fairgrounds.
Featured Round Trip Route
New Gloucester Fairgrounds Boat Launch to/from Tobey Road Boat Launch
A limited number of canoe and kayaks and paddling gear are available for rent for free at the New Gloucester Fairgrounds (keys at Library). Contact the New Gloucester Public Library for details. The two mile stretch of the Royal River from the boat launch at Tobey Rd to the Fairgrounds is relatively flat, with a minor current. This segment can be paddled upstream from the Fairgrounds, downstream from Tobey Road, or round trip. There are hand-carry boat launches with adequate parking at either end. This stretch is easily paddled in either direction by novices at higher water levels, though note that one larger beaver dam roughly half-way through this segment does require a short portage. Roughly half of this segment is a pond formed by the dam at Bald Hill Road. The clear water is stocked with fish, and gravel and pine banks provide good locations for picnics. The river passes under the Turnpike with clearance.
Connecting Trails & Preserves
Looking for an adventure out of the boat? Here is more information on the land preserves & trails you can explore on foot along this segment.
- Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village – The village hosts its religious community, library, museum, events, guided nature tours, a working farm, outdoor classrooms, and more. Working forests and farms surrounding the village are protected by a 1,700 acres of conservation easements with public access. When visiting, please avoid orchards and active farm operations.
- New Gloucester Fairgrounds – Featuring 31 acres of wide open space used for running and walking for the general public.
- Flowing North Preserve – Not for paddling, but enjoyed by local fishermen and hunters for generations, Flowing North Preserve offers a quiet place to enjoy the upper reaches of the Royal River. The river is not suitable for boats on this stretch.
Next Segment → New Gloucester Fairgrounds to Intervale Road