Maine Canoe Trips

One of the few surviving American Elm


We begin our week long Allagash trips at Chamberlain Bridge or Indian Stream and paddle north nearly 100 miles to where the river meets the St John. It is a trip of great variety, we travel lakes, rapids, and meandering quietwater, with few portages, only 200 yards at Allagash Falls and short lifts around two old dams. Challenging Chase Rapids teaches you to read the whitewater and will test paddling skills you've practiced along the way. We explore sites of early logging activity like the Tramway, and hike to expansive view of the Maine woods from the fire tower on Priestly or Round Pond Mountain. Campsites are primitive and beautiful, and we try to allow plenty of time for relaxing, swimming, and exploring, especially at magnificent Allagash Falls. Wildlife is abundant along the river, and sightings of moose are frequent in the summer months. The Allagash trip is suitable for any level of ability, from novice to advanced paddler, and is ideal for families and friends seeking quality outdoor time together, as well as solo travelers to meet new friends and share the beauty and peacefulness of the north woods. Early summer's higher water levels make possible a longer (nine-day) trip, which begins near the Waterway's most remote lake, Allagash Lake, and ventures down wild and beautiful Allagash Stream into Chamberlain Lake. These first few days can be more physically demanding than our shorter Allagash trips, but we are rewarded with ice caves to explore, trout fishing, and a stopover at scenic Little Allagash Falls. The last seven days follow the traditional route north to Allagash Village.

The St. John is only a few miles west of the Allagash, yet the two rivers have very different personalities. Without large headwater lakes to store water, the St. John rises and falls quickly, sometimes a foot or more in one day, and is normally canoeable only in late spring.

Maine moose crossing the St John river

Maine moose crossing the St John river

We drive in to Baker lake, often just after ice-out. Water level permitting, we start at Fourth or Fifth St. John Pond and make our way for a day or two through the narrow and challenging upper river before reaching Baker Lake. From there to civilization at Dickey the river grows from a swift stream to a wide, powerful waterway. There are numerous sets of class I and II rapids and no portages. Two long class II-III rapids add excitement to the last days of the trip. The difficulty of the rapids varies depending on water level.

The longest and wildest free-flowing river left in the eastern U.S., the upper St. John is flanked by woodland rich in wildlife and in native and logging history. Once a major water highway, remnants of long-gone settlements can still be found along its banks. Our mid-May trip is usually bug-free and full of the signs of early spring, with ice-cold water temperatures, patches of snow in the shade, and budding wildflowers. Our wildlife sightings are less frequent than in summertime, but feature species rarely seen: bear, fisher cat, snowy owl, and coyote. Weather on this week-long, 120-150 mile trip can range from 85 degrees to below freezing. A trip on the St. John River in May is the classic Maine rite-of-spring paddling adventure.

Beautiful reflective afternoon sky on Lobster Lake

Beautiful reflective afternoon sky on Lobster Lake

The scenic upper West Branch of the Penobscot River from Lobster to Chesuncook Lakes makes an ideal first canoe-camping experience, and an excellent family trip. Moose sightings are usually plentiful as we paddle this gentle river, following part of Thoreau's canoe route into the Maine woods. Several miles of class I "rips" provide an introduction to river-reading, and our river campsite provides a perfect spot for learning to use a setting pole. Chesuncook Lake, with its view of Mt. Katahdin and a visit to historic Chesuncook Village, is one of our favorite places to camp, swim, explore, and pick berries. On a windy day you'll be challenged by Chesuncook's waves; and on a calm, windless morning you may be mesmerized by miles of reflected landscape.

The East Branch reminds us of Canadian rivers with its numerous rapids, falls, and short portages. Trips of varying lengths can be arranged from several different access points. The longest begins at Telos Lake and includes advanced class III rapids and falls on Webster Stream that require portaging and lining. Below Grand Lake Matagamon there are short portages around four beautiful falls, dramatic mountain views, and class II-III whitewater and ledge drops to challenge your skills.

The upper Moose River meanders slowly for miles through prime wildlife habitat, punctuated by several short ledge drops and rapids that can be portaged or lined if necessary, beautiful Holeb Falls to explore, and surprising mountain vistas that appear and reappear as the river winds its way to Attean Pond. The Moose River Bow Trip makes an excellent 3-4 day trip, suitable for families and small groups. An optional hike up nearby Sally Mountain provides an encompassing view of this unique and scenic region.

St Croix river

Snapping turtle on the St Croix

Originating in beautiful glacier carved Spednic lake and flowing south, cutting the border between Maine and New Brunswick in eastern Maine, the St. Croix River provides numerous exciting class I and II rapids in a semi-remote setting filled with adventure around every bend! The St. Croix is a fantastic river for learning or brushing up on your whitewater skills, wildlife sighting, smallmouth bass fishing, and friendly snapping turtles!