BETHEL — Organizers behind the 14th annual Androscoggin River Source to the Sea Trek from July 9 through Aug. 23 are breaking from tradition this summer.

Instead of the usual 20-day, 170-mile trip from Lake Umbagog in northwestern Maine through New Hampshire, back into Maine to the Atlantic Ocean at Fort Popham near Bath, this summer’s 13-day trek will end in Lisbon, 30 paddling miles from the ocean.
Androscoggin River Watershed Council member Fergus Lea explained why on Tuesday.

“To some extent, it’s due to budgetary reasons,” he said.

Additionally, he said directors have long wanted to better link the event with ongoing festivities along the river, rather than just paddling through them.

“We want to try to bring more water, if you will, or river focus, to some of the celebrations that occur up and down the river,” Lea said.

So, the council partnered with New Hampshire’s Northern Forest Heritage Park, the Lewiston-Auburn Balloon Festival, the paper-making museum in Livermore Falls, the Rumford Parks and Recreation program, the Androscoggin Land Trust and Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge.

“We planned a paddling day – although it didn’t work out earlier when we were getting trek information out – down in the Brunswick area,” Lea said. “We certainly didn’t want to slight them.”

A Brunswick-area paddle could happen later this fall if the council’s budget can accommodate it, Lea said.

This summer’s trek will begin with the Shelburne, N.H., to Gilead section on Thursday, July 9. The Gilead to Bethel paddle is Friday, July 10, followed by the Hanover to Rumford leg on Saturday, July 11.

New this year in the Hanover to Rumford stretch is a canoe and kayak race hosted by the Rumford Parks and Recreation program. Like the family-oriented trek, the race is free and open to the public. The race involves 10 miles of downstream paddling in various categories. Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Hanover public boat launch on Route 2 behind the Town Office. A shuttle service will be provided. The race will end with an awards ceremony and barbecue.

Maine Handicapped Skiing Paddling Day is the Bethel to Hanover leg on Sunday, July 12, which will be followed on Monday, July 13, by the Mexico to Dixfield section.

The trek resumes on Saturday, July 25, with the Gulf Island Pond Paddle and Androscoggin Land Trust picnic in Turner. A round-trip paddle to Rancourt Preserve with the trust on Sunday, July 26, in Auburn will round out the month.

The trek flips back to New Hampshire on Friday, Aug. 7, for a morning paddle of the section from 13-Mile Wood to Pontook Dam. New that day is an evening paddle called “Full-Moon Owl Prowl” from the refuge to Errol, N.H.

That will be followed by the Bofinger to Berlin section on Saturday, Aug. 8, and the Northern Forest Heritage Park’s River Day race.

Sunday, Aug. 9, will end the New Hampshire stretch with a paddle from Errol to Seven Islands Bridge.
Back in Maine on Friday, Aug. 14, the Jay to Livermore Falls stretch will be paddled.

The trek’s remaining two days are Saturday, Aug. 22, which includes an On-Water Paddling Parade during the Great Falls Balloon Festival in Auburn and Lewiston, and Sunday, Aug. 23, the Durham to Lisbon paddle.

“We kept the ‘trek’ name because next year is our 15th annual and we would like to raise enough money to do the whole trip next year,” Lea said.

For more information, contact trek coordinator Barbra Barrett at 527-2163 or [email protected] or visit www.androscogginriver.net. Preregistration is strongly encouraged.

[email protected]


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