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Maine Appalachian Trail Club Replaces Kennebec Ferry with New Zipline River Crossing Service

Beginning in 2016, Applachian Trail Hikers will cross the Kennebec River by Zipline
Beginning in 2016, Appalachian Trail Hikers will cross the Kennebec River by Zipline

MATC, the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, announced that it will decommission the Kennebec Ferry Service, a canoe ferry across a dangerous and remote section of the Kennebec River, and replace it with a zipline for Appalachian Trail Hikers. Citing a sharp increase in the number of  hikers requiring ferry service, long lines, and crowding along the banks, it was determined that crossing the 70 yard wide river by zipline will be faster, safer, and have a lower environmental impact on the fragile shoreline bordering the current crossing.

The Kennebec River is the most dangerous river crossings along the entire 2,185-mile Appalachian Trail. Approximately 70 yards wide with a swift, powerful current, the depth and current of the river surge quickly and unpredictably due to releases of water by upstream hydro facilities.

Hikers are required to cross the Kennebec by canoe for safety reasons because fording or trying to swim the river is too dangerous. Yet, despite online postings, warnings in every guidebook, and posted notices along the trail, a few dozen hikers attempt the ford or swim across the river each year because they don’t want to wait their turn for the ferry or arrive after its daily hours of operation.

“In 2015, we safely ferried 2181 hikers across the Kennebec by canoe. But with the increase in Appalachian Trail hikers expected in 2016, we’ve reached a tipping point where we cannot keep up with demand for ferry trips,” said MATC spokesperson David Matigan. “After running a feasibility study and environmental impact assessment, we determined that running three ziplines across the Kennebec would make it possible for us to keep up with hiker demand and population growth for the next 10 years. Crossing by zipline will be much faster, safer, and less expensive in the long run, and if we ever exceed our capacity, we can simply add another line across the river.”

Zipline tours have become a popular form of recreational in the State of Maine and have an excellent safety record with multiple zipline centers at Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Kittery, and Carrabasset Valley. Every rider is connected to the line using a full body harness via two attachment points and the use of a helmet is required. Once attached to the zipline, a gravity braking system, complemented by an arrester system, is used make the entire experience hands and stress free. However, a canoe ferry will still be available if there is a health or safety reason why a hiker cannot cross by zipline, they’re an unaccompanied minor, or they’re hiking with a dog.

Preliminary feedback by Appalachian Trail hikers who participated in the zipline feasibility study last autumn was enthusiastic. “Crossing the Kennebec by zipline was a rush,” said a thru-hiker known as Pit-Zip. “I think it’s a great solution to the congestion problem and that thru-hikers will really like it.”

Construction of the new Kennebec zipline crossing is underway and will be ready to receive Appalachian Trail hikers in the spring of 2016.

April Fools!

For more silliness:

  1. Darn Tough Announces “ReFluff” Sock Revitalization Service
  2. Mountain House Spins Off New Dog House Foods Subsidiary and Canine Product Line
  3. Outdoor Industry Association Announces New Backpack Volume Standard
  4. RBG Takes Leave of Absence from the Supreme Court to Hike the Appalachian Trail
  5. Appalachian Mountain Club to Build Underground Parking Garage in Crawford Notch
  6. Ski Tuckerman Ravine with the new Tuckerman Taxi
  7. Maine Appalachian Trail Club Replaces Kennebec Ferry with New Zipline River Crossing Service
  8. Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Google Express Launch Air-Drop Airborne Drone Resupply Service on Appalachian Trail
  9. Jetboil Announces Breakthrough BioBoil Camping Stove and Power Recharging Products
  10. Klymit Revolutionizes Lightweight Backpacking with Gas-Filled Universal Load Lifters
  11. Gossamer Gear Announces iGorilla Backpack with iPad Pocket and Kinetic Energy Recharger


  1. I mean, it’s actually a decent idea lol. I wouldn’t mind a change of pace, literally.

  2. I’ve been waiting for the April 1 post!

    Between my Klymit helium filled load lifters and Google/Amazon drone, I might be able to get my Gossamer Gear iGorilla backpack with iPad holder and JetBoil BioBoil camping stove across without the zipline, but I think I’ll take the ride anyway. After all, you only zip once!

  3. And after you touch down, you can feast on drone-delivered pizza.

  4. Well pooh. I was thinking “Way cool!” ?

  5. You’d be a fool not to take it!

  6. This is a fantastic idea. Love it, April fools or not.

  7. How are they going to be able to get the zipline back to the starting point from the other side of the river? Inquiring minds want to know….

    • The simplest way is to attach a rope to the the connection point with the wire and pull it back. Apologies if the question was rhetorical.

  8. I can just see the online forums blowing themselves up with this “news” today….

  9. Despite being an april fools post, this is actually the greatest idea I’ve heard all day!

  10. Love the number of hikers last year. 2181 is the AT miles in 2011.

  11. You got me the last 2 years but not this year, I have been looking forward to this. Sounds like a good idea.

  12. Good one….I would have preferred a more gentile ride….say…in a slower ski lift chair….would be fun……grand Canyon zip would be awesome
    Nice article have a good morning

    • How about build a glass walkway like they have over the grand canyon —over the kennebec….

    • how about someone start a shuttle van service where they can pick people up and drive people to the other side if they dont want to do the zipline?
      Someone should consider this

  13. As I understand it, Amazon will have the contract and be responsible to monitor zip-line safety using their remote semi-autonomous drones, with back-up life vests in case folks fall in the water!

  14. Post it tomorrow and maybe I’ll believe it

  15. My question…is it cat friendly? I do not want to walk 2000 miles only to be clawed to death. And the cat gear. Do you know what I had to pay for cat sized BA Big house? ;)

  16. Why not offer scuba gear for those who like to get in the water. I mean, some people skip the ferry because getting wet is fun. So let these folks have an alternative. They can explore the river bottom as they cross and learn about its’ unique ecology. It will also free up some room for zip liners. Let’s be reasonable here.

  17. I forded it in 1978, one of the most exciting experiences on the trail. Danger yes, but we did it with advance knowledge of the hydro release schedule, and with “release everything” technique (pack, boots) and crossed as a group of 4 (or 6). If crowds cause need to protect the environment, but that’s unfortunate.

  18. How much is it going to cost to build, and cross? I assume it will be staffed also…

  19. They should still build a hiker bridge for those who dont like fast moving ziplines or heights and not force people to do it. Not everyone likes to take ziplines and not everyone likes super high wires things like that.
    or going fast on a wire.

    They should have local volunterers construct a wooden hiker bridge over the kennebec and keep the zipline for those who wish to but not force it on everyone else. I can see some people avoiding this part of the AT now because of bring forced into doing a zipline

    those who dont like that kind of thing or heigths like myself.

    I just dont like ziplines.

    Is there some law that says they cant have volunteers build a suspension bridge or a wooden hiker bridge over the kennebec?

    it seems more sense for them to build a bridge

    And leave the zipline for those who want to

    I would like to hike this section but dont like ziplines so I migth just skip this section or just section hike to the banks.. –

    is there anyone we can contact about constructing a pedestrian bridge for hikers over that section?

  20. I still think they should keep the hiker ferry for those who dont want to use the ziplines

    or have a shuttle van service

  21. Elon Musk should build a mini hyper loop across the Kennebec. ;-) lol

  22. With a few hundred yards of surgical tubing, they could build a large slingshot to send backpackers over the river. The only possible problem I can think of with my idea is those with latex allergies might not find this an optimal means of travel.

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