Sunrise Canoe and Kayak

River guides since 1996.

Go canoeing or kayaking in Maine, it's good for the soul!

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Machias River, Eastern Maine

**Self Guided Canoe Trip Info**

Sunrise Canoe and Kayak offers complete outfitting services including canoe rentals, river shuttles and fully outfitted Machias river canoe trips led by Master Maine guides.

The word "Machias" is loosely translated as "bad run of water". True to it's name the river has a number of class III ledge-drop rapids spread throughout it's course which are a source for many fireside tales. These class III drops are relatively short and easy to scout which is advisable since the nature of these rapids can change as water levels fluctuate in early spring. Holmes falls is the only mandatory portage but depending on your itinerary, water levels, and ability parties may elect to carry or line some of the hairier class III's.

Canoeists in the northeastern U.S. looking for a true spring wilderness trip will be happy to discover this remote, untamed river nearly impossible to run the same way twice is within a days drive.

Water levels in the Machias are entirely dependent on spring runoff and precipitation. The river holds reliable water levels from May to mid-June except for 5Th Lake stream which has a shorter season generally runnable through the first two weeks of May. Trips scheduled later in the season will experience rising water temperatures and brook trout fishing can be excellent during this time. Depending on your expectations, low-water trips can be run throughout the season starting at 2nd Lake or Airline rapids.


The Machias has a number of access points making a wide range of itineraries possible. It is not uncommon for parties to adjust their exact put-in location upon arrival based on water level.

The trip from 5th Lake to the sea is 75 miles with average travel of 15 miles a day prudent considering portages and scouting. Many groups elect for 6 days for added cushion in the event of winds on the lakes or lower river. Please be advised that the access to 5th Lake is over private roads which are generally not open until the second week of May making the window for starting a trip there very small.

Common spring itineraries for the Machias are from 4th or 3rd lake to either Holmes Falls or Smith Landing covering a period of 3-5 days. In the summer it is possible to spend days exploring 4th and 3rd Lakes while camping on their beautiful beaches. Trips on the lower river from airline rapids down are also possible during the summer and fall.

First Day Of Your Trip

Depending on the size of your party, our driver(s) will meet you the morning of your trip with 1 ton passenger van(s), canoe trailer(s), and crew cab truck(s) along with your rental equipment.

We will load your gear into our vehicle(s), then travel together to your planned take-out on the river where you will park your party's vehicles, and then transport your party and gear to your put-in on the river.


Primitive campsites are available on a first-come first served basis. Approved sites will have a fire ring, but not always a picnic table or privy. State managed sites within the Machias River Corridor public reserve will have fire ring, picnic tables, and privies. Other than these simple improvements, there are no other facilities available along the river corridor.


Fishing on the Machias river can be hit or miss for brook trout in the spring and generally decent action for smallmouth bass throughout the summer. The larger headwater lakes have healthy populations of white perch. Fishing licenses are required for anyone wishing to fish. 3-day, 7-day, and seasonal licenses can be obtained through the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website ( or at most fishing supply retailers.


Bald eagles are common sightings on the Machias as well as osprey. Moose, white-tailed deer, and black bear also inhabit the Machias valley. Coyote are also present, however seeing a coyote or a black bear is extremely rare. It is possible to hear coyotes in the evening.

Bears along the waterway have not been a problem which may be an indication of how little use the river actually sees over the course of a year.

Last Day Of Your Trip

You will arrive at your planned take-out whenever you want, pack your gear into your vehicles which are parked there, secure our rental equipment per our instructions, and drive off to your next destination.


Outfitting clients can choose any number of days and arrange access at a number of put-in and take-out points. There is access to put-in at the outlet of Fifth lake/Fifth lake stream*, Fourth lake, outlet of Third lake, Second lake, and airline rapids. Common take-outs are Holmes falls, Smith landing, Whitneyville, and town of Machias. Airline rapids is also used as a takeout for parties wishing to paddle the top half of the river from Fifth or Fourth lake.

*Access to outlet of Fifth lake/Fifth lake stream is over a private road which will not be open to public access until the roads are deemed usable by the landowner.

Rental Rates

Our outfitting services include canoe rentals (Old Town Discovery 169 canoes with PFD's & paddles $40/day) and equipment rentals (dry bags $5/day, tents $10/day, coolers $5/day).

Shuttle Rates

The via shuttle rate rate for the Machias river is $225 and accommodates up to 8 participants and gear. Parties of more than 10 participants will require an additional vehicle for $150.

Drop offs at 4th Lake or pick ups at Holmes Falls have an additional cost of $40.

For parties arriving by car, oufitted trips for the Machias typically meet in Machias, ME or at airline rapids and we are happy to recommend accommodations in either Machias or Bangor for the night prior to your trip.

Bangor Airport Shuttles

If you plan to fly in to Bangor we can pick you up at your hotel and run your shuttle round trip from Bangor for an additional fee of $190 for up to 8 participants and gear.


Contact Sunrise Canoe and Kayak, Rob Scribner

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