Maine 101

What Is the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race?

The winter snow melts every spring in Maine, and in the areas around greater Bangor, a lot of the water ends up in the Kenduskeag Stream. And that means three things: high water, fast currents, and the annual Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race.

Started in 1967, the KSCR has become a rite of seasonal passage for those in the Bangor area and beyond. Over 50 races later, hundreds of participants navigate their canoes and kayaks every year down a 16 1/2 mile stretch from the town of Kenduskeag to just before where the stream meets the Penobscot River in downtown Bangor.

Those risking a dip in the frigid water are far from the only ones who enjoy the annual race, though. Friends, family, and all sorts of other spectators — from those who encourage racers to “river vultures”, as they’re known, who wait for boats to flip as they try to navigate the whitewater — line points along the stream to watch as boats race downstream. Popular spots to watch include Six Mile Falls, a set of rapids in outer Bangor; a fast moving stretch of river known as “Shopping Cart” along Valley Avenue in Bangor; and the finish line near Pickering Square in downtown Bangor.

Whether you’d like to cheer on the participants or bask in the schadenfreude when a boat can’t quite navigate the rapids without tipping, the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race is a great way For the whole family to welcome spring in greater Bangor.

Be sure to check out our spectator’s guide if you want to visit the race yourself!

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