Liscomb River

Pool drop
Class: II/III+ Length: 17km
Location: Liscomb, NS Character: Pool drop
Gauge: None Contributor: Lukas Dee

General Description

The Liscomb River is one of the larger rivers on the Eastern Shore. Where the Liscomb River meets the Little Liscomb River, the flow drastically increases and the rapids below become a lot more pushy than those above The Forks. This river is seldom run as access is rather difficult to figure out, and water levels are often unknown until seeing the river. On the whitewater section of this river there is only one long stillwater section, and the rapids along the way become better and better. Before reaching Liscomb River Falls and the fish ladder, the river is very remote, with an occasional ATV trail leading into the forest. A single cabin is also located about a kilometer before Big Stillwater. If the Liscomb wasn’t so far from Halifax (2 hours to the takeout), it would easily become a local favorite. The granite bedrock makes for many clean and continuous rapids. If you’re looking for a river that will teach you how to boof, the Liscomb is the one.


The Liscomb is remote, like very remote. The fact that it is seldom run also means there is very little information on wood and strainers, ice, and water levels. 

Just over 3 kilometers from Liscomb Mills and the take-out, there is a large and rocky waterfall of about 30 feet. This will need to be portaged. The river splits into two channels here, on the right is the waterfall, on the left is an old dam gate that leads into a fish ladder. The fish ladder is a series of low head dams, where the pour-overs are incredibly strong and retentive. It is strongly recommended to not run these drops. Getting out on the island in the middle and using the hiking trail is likely the easiest option, but it comes with a certain risk, given that missing the eddy here would mean going down either of the channels. Portaging on the right around the waterfall is possible, but will require some repelling. Getting out on river left before the split and bushwacking to the hiking trail is likely the safest option.

When getting close to Liscomb Mills, there is a good chance you will come across fishing gear in the river.

Named Rapids

Good Omen:

Located directly at the put-in, Good Omen is an awesome rapid to get the run started. The top starts off narrow with a decent sized ledge that has a clean boof off a pillow rock on river right. More ledges, reactionaries, and eddy boofs continue below the bridge. Turning the corner the river flows through a wide and shallow boulder garden into Camp Lake.

Rainy Valley Falls:

After Camp Lake multiple small rips lead into Rainy Valley Falls. This isn’t a difficult rapid (class II) but it is very long for Nova Scotian standards. About half a kilometer of shallow boulder garden leads down into the next pool.

Long Way Round and Back Alley (Findlay Island):

After a few more small rips and pools the river splits into two channels around Findlay Island.  Going right leads you into Long Way Round. This is the wider of the two channels, and is longer. The gradient drops more continuously, and the moves are a bit more spread out. The last few ledges before the channels join back together are a bit bigger and often have wood lodged in places. Scouting will likely have to be done here, and is easiest on river right. Going left leads you into Back Alley. The river stays pretty wide and flat until it hooks right and drops gradient rapidly through a narrow and technical boulder garden down to the end of Findlay Island. Scouting will likely be necessary and safety can be set around one drop that has a decent sized hole at the bottom of it. Being upside down or swimming in Back Alley should be avoided.

Point and Shoot:

A longer straight section ends in a right bend and the river drops again. You’ve made it to Point and Shoot. This is another longer rapid with multiple large ledges strung together by fast and pushy water. There are few eddies and the ledges create retentive holes in certain spots. Plan on running it all in one go, so scouting all ledges can be important. Bombing down Point and Shoot is awesome! The river flattens out where Sinclair Brook flows in from the right.

On Edge:

After paddling past The Forks and across Big Stillwater, the river drops into the last section before Liscomb River Falls and the mandatory Portage. A beautiful large wave with eddy access marks the beginning of On Edge. After the wave there is a short wave train that leads into three back to back ledges. Scouting is easily done on river right, although the easiest line will likely be on the left. The water is pushy and some spots have large surging boils. More ledges and class II boulder gardens lead directly into the portage. Spreading out will greatly increase safety here.

Liscomb River Falls:

Getting out before the next drop is mandatory. The river splits here; neither channel is safe to run. On river right is Liscomb River Falls, a 30-35 foot drop with a rowdy entrance and rock ledges sticking out into the flow the entire way down. From observations it looks like the water lands on a rock shelf at the bottom as well. The canyon right after the drop is stunning and amazing to paddle into. You can portage on the right, with some repelling and/or “throw and go”. The easier but riskier option is to get out on the island in the middle and using the hiking trail and footbridge to get to the pool below. The trail is on river left and crosses over the island to river right, so getting out on river left before the split is also an option. The left channel is artificially dammed, and is a series of 15 low head dams which create a high volume fish ladder. Understanding the dangers of low head dams is critical here.

Relax and Enjoy:

After Liscomb River Falls the river flattens out, but not for long. The river narrows again and drops through two main ledges and a boulder garden into the next pool. The first two ledges have retentive parts to them. Scouting is easiest on river right.

Crooked Falls:

After a flatter section the river drops past a large rock slab through a narrow slot. This is the beginning of Crooked Falls. This rapid is long and gets quite big in spots. It can be broken down into three sections; the entrance ledges, the chute, and the exit ledges.  The entrance ledges start with slot, and are followed by two more ledges that lead you to a large rock outcrop one river right. The chute drops down to the left past this large rock outcrop. A lot of water pushes down through the rocks, which creates some big reactionaries. The river the hooks back to the right. The exit ledges create large wave trains and strong eddy lines. Crooked Falls ends in a large flat pool.

Boofer’s Ledge:

Boofer’s Ledge is a single ledge of about 2-3 feet, just as the Liscombe Lodge comes into view. This is the best place to practice boofing, as it is a very clean drop that ends in a flat pool. That doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for a beatdown; the hole can be retentive. Boofer’s is best on the far right.

Salty Drop and Secret Slide:

Right below the Trunk 7 bridge and take-out is the last drop before the ocean. The river becomes tidal directly after the bridge. The main ledge (Salty Drop) can be run in a zig-zag from far right to middle left, or boofed middle left over the recirculation. In the trees on the far left a small chute can also be run. The Secret Slide is short and ends with a small auto boof. A few small ledges follow and end in the tidal zone.


Put-in (Whitewater Section): 

Google Map Link The put-in is located on the Liscomb River Rd. Bridge, although road is a rather misleading statement. IN reality it is a narrow dirt road (more of a trail) that is mostly used by ATV’s. A vehicle with 4-wheel-drive and good ground clearance should be used to get to the river here. Fallen trees should also be reckoned with; bring a saw, and expect to carry in if road conditions are bad.

Take-Out (Whitewater Section):

Google Map Link The take-out is a lot more straightforward than the put-in. Taking out where NS Trunk 7 crosses the Liscomb is easiest. Parking is available here at the Mayflower Trail trailhead downstream of the bridge on river left.


There is an old gauge below the dam that is on the Water Office, although it has been long out of service. The Liscomb has a large watershed, with many lakes and still waters spread throughout, especially around the headwaters. This means that water levels can be gauged by surrounding rivers, and rainfall amounts between Cameron Settlement and Liscomb.