Bear River Rips lies at the confluence of the Bear and Androscoggin rivers, tucked between mountains just north of Bethel. A popular site among anglers and canoeists, the Rips are easily accessed from a small parcel of land that borders both the Androscoggin and Route 2.
Like many such traditional access points across private land, people assumed it was public until a “for sale” sign was posted. Hoping to secure the property in its undeveloped state, the Mahoosuc Land Trust moved quickly to negotiate a purchase. Fortunately, the seller was a local business person who recognized the land’s community value and agreed to sell it for conservation at a cost below market value. The Mahoosuc Land Trust then sought and received funds for the bargain sale purchase from the Land for Maine’s Future program.
The new access site provides a key link in the Androscoggin Canoe Trail, a 40-mile route stretching from Shelburne, New Hampshire to Rumford. The trail gives families and novice paddlers a chance to canoe and kayak through flatwater and gentle whitewater, with launches located every 4 to 6 miles. The Trail may eventually offer inn-to-inn paddling tours that would enhance summer tourism offerings, bringing in needed revenues outside ski season.
Plans for the trail emerged as recreational use of the river grew in recent years, following several decades of persistent work to improve water quality. The river’s increasing appeal has been a boon to local guides, outfitters and campgrounds. The Androscoggin is a river “on a journey of recovery,” notes Sandy MacGregor of Mountain Ranger Guide Service. It is “beautiful and underutilized at this time… having tremendous potential for outdoor recreation.” The access point at Bear River Rips helps to realize that potential. The site will also benefit students at nearby Gould Academy, the Bethel School Administrative District, and Hurricane Island’s Outward Bound School in Newry who can now use the river more for nature study and exercise.
Western Mountains – Oxford, Franklin, Somerset
Directions from nearest town
DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer Map 10, A-3. From Bethel, take Routes 2/5/26 north toward Newry/Hanover for 5.5 miles. The parking area by Bear River Rips is on the right (just before Route 26 comes in on the left).