York River

Wild and Scenic River Candidate

The York River runs 13 miles from York Pond to the estuary, collecting waters from Cutts Ridge Brook, Smelt Brook, Cider Hill Creek, and Rogers Brook, among many other tributaries. The river is being considered for protection through the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.


Drainage: 33 square miles
Drinking water source for: Kittery
Receives wastewater from: None
Significant water features: Folly Pond, Middle Pond, Belle Marsh Reservoir, Boulter Pond

Watershed Description

The York River begins at York Pond in Eliot, flows through the remnants of Upper Bartlett Mill Pond, and continues past woodlands and former mill sites into the Town of York. There it becomes tidal and is joined by feeder streams from South Berwick and Kittery, such as Cutts Ridge Brook, Smelt Brook, Cider Hill Creek, and Rogers Brook. The mouth of the river is protected by Stage Neck.

The York River main stem was never dammed. It has retained healthy smelt, herring, eel, lobster, and flounder populations, as well as seasonal striped bass and bluefish runs.'

The watershed holds significant habitat for rare and endangered plant and animal species including the New England cottontail, spotted wintergreen, and swamp darter.

Local Information

Conservation Organization

Towns in Watershed

Eliot, Kittery, South Berwick, York


  • Watershed Management Plan (2005)
  • PREP Conservation Focus Area fact sheet (2010)

York River Study Committee

Providing the four York River communities with the structure, expertise, and funding to identify key issues and goals for long-term river and watershed protection.

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