Maule River - Lower

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Quick Facts

  • Class: Flatwater/Class II
  • Distance: 56 miles (90 km)
  • Average Gradient: 5 feet/mile (1 m/km)
  • Maximum Gradient:
  • Temperature: warm, lake fed
  • Water Quality: fair
  • Character: trnquil flatwater through remote countryside
  • Nearby Rivers: Maule River - Upper

General Description

The Maule River is located in the Maule Region, Region X of Chile. In the Mapuche language, the mother tongue of the pre-Columbian Amerindians it means “river of fogs”. The Maule River was the southern most river in the Incan empire and demarkated it’s southern border. The Maule River is born from the waters of Laguna del Maule in the Talca Province, at an altitude of about 7100 feet (2150 meters) near the border of Argentina. Over a course of 150 miles (240 km) from headwaters to the Pacific the Maule River is joined by an extensive number of tributaries including the Rio Melado, Rio Ancoa and Rio Achibueno. The Maule River also lends its name to one of the greatest wine making regions in Chile, “The Maule River Valley”.

The Lower Rio Maule begins life in Embalsa (Lago) Colbun at a hydroelectric power station . Embalse Colbun has become a great recreational and boating area and is now one of Chile’s biggest lakes. From Embalse Colbun the Rio Maule meanders its way to the Pacific coast and the city of Constitucion. It is joined by the Rio Claro from the city of Talca.

This run has little or no whitewater but is great for a multi-day canoe or sea kayak expedition. It is also used for flat water canoe races during certain times of the year. Plan on two days minimum and three days for a comfortable relaxed pace. The river often diverges far from the roadside and civilization but is followed by train tracks for most of the way. Plan on camping streamside. Be aware that the river is affected by tides as you get closer to the city of Constitucion which can slow you down or flood a poorly chosen campsite.



River Flows / Gauge Information / Season

There are two reporting stations on the Lower Rio Maule River route that will help in determining flows on your trip. One of these lies on the Rio Claro near the Talca put-in. The other lies on the Lower Maule River itself about halfway to Constitución. These two stations will provide you with minimum / maximum flow rates.

Real-time Steamflow Data

Reporting Stations:

  • Rio Claro River below Talca: 07379002-6 Claro Rauquen, Region VII
  • Lower Rio Maule River: 07383001-K Maule en Forel, Region VII

Rapid Descriptions


Put-Ins and Take-Outs

  • Put-in: In the city of Talca on the Rio Claro.
  • Take-out: At the harbor in the city of Constitucion along the Pacific coast.


The Lower Rio Maule River can be accessed from the city of Talca which lies 254 kms south of the capital city of Santiago de Chile along the Pan American Highway (Ruta 5).

Places to Stay / Campgrounds

The Lago Colbun region is a great aquatics recreation area with numerous places to camp or cabins to rent. For a multiday kayak or canoe trip down the Lower Rio Maule plan on riverside wilderness camping.

Maps & Outside Links



Copyright & Terms of Use

  • Copyrights: (Copyright © 2006, Expediciones Chile) All photos, maps, diagrams, text and computer code is the copyrighted property of Expediciones Chile with all rights reserved.

  • Terms of Use: Any type of reproduction, republication, or re-transmission for commercial use is prohibited without the expressed, written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users of this Wiki guidebook may print copies of the text, images and diagrams for personal river running use only. Users may not alter the diagrams or text without expressed written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users must read and acknowledge the disclaimer before printing. Printing implies acknowledgment of the disclaimer.


  • Disclaimer: Under no circumstances should paddlers substitute the information and diagrams in this guidebook for their own sound judgment on the river and their collective experience running rivers. The diagrams, maps and descriptions found here are only approximations of what paddlers will find on the river once they get to Chile or Argentina. They are not to scale and nor are they completely accurate. Water levels change, rocks move around, landslide debris can enter the river at any time making the diagrams obsolete. Expediciones Chile also reserves the right to update these diagrams and descriptions at any time as we find better ways to illustrate and discuss the rapids. Use this guidebook at your own risk.

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