The Rapid River is one of the premier whitewater runs in Maine and is made even more special by its limited availability. Thanks to American Whitewater, there are at least 4 weekends of high-water releases every year for whitewater fun.
Overall, the Rapid is a challenging Class IV read-and-react run with plenty of sharp rocks to punish the unwary, but the crown jewel of the river is the play wave at Smooth Ledge. Whether as part of a full river-run or a hike in to park-and-play, Smooth Ledge never disappoints.
For the park-and-play crowd, the path down to Smooth Ledge can be difficult to find, but after a muddy 15-minute hike, you are well rewarded. Starting from the river right (surfer’s left) eddy, paddlers need to jet ferry across a hole to the wave. The angle of the wave makes spins to a surfer’s left very easy.
If dropping in from the river left eddy, paddlers need to make sure they get upstream and drop into the meat of the wave to avoid sliding off the shoulder on surfer’s right. Again, moves from surfer’s right to left are easiest due to the angle of the wave.
The crowds of kayakers and rafting spectators (and even the occasional dog) add to the fun of it all. The Rapid season is over for this year, barring any unexpected releases, but mark your calendar for next summer.