Northbound hikers on the Appalachian Trail reach the Kennebec River at mile 2037.6 (as of 2015.) This is the widest unbridged water crossing on the trail, 70 yards wide, with a swift and powerful current. As a result of upstream damn releases, the depth and current of the river can surge quickly and unpredictably. One hiker is known to have died trying to cross the river by themselves and many others have had very close calls.
Hikers arriving between May 22 and October 12 are provided with a free canoe ferry ride provided by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. The ferry service and not fording is the officially sanctioned way to cross the Kennebec River on the Appalachian Trail.
Early and late season service is also provided from May 1 to May 21 and from October 13 to October 31 for $50 per crossing, on an on-call and weather permitting basis. Crossing conditions outside of those dates become increasingly dangerous due to the onset of winter conditions in Maine, so section and thru hikers should plan their hikes so that they cross the Kennebec during the regular ferry operating season.
For information about ferry dates and times, see the MATC Kennebec Ferry Schedule Page.
Crossing the Kennebec by canoe is rather cool, actually. It’s pretty much the only time you can get someone else to transport you along the Appalachian Trail and still have the distance, even if it is just 70 yards, count toward your 2000 miler application