Archives for category: Family Outings

Six day Allagash canoe trip from Chamberlain Lake to Round Pond. Explored the artifacts of the Allagash Logging days including the trains and tramway near Eagle Lake. Chase Stream Rapids was a highlight for many while spotting a small bull moose on Long Lake was a highlight for others. Canoe the Wild offers guided Maine canoe trips for all ages in 2019 from 4 to 7 days in duration. Trips are fully outfitted and guided. Meals are fantastic and no previous experience is necessary. Visit our 2019 canoe trip schedule and let a Maine guide assist you on your next Maine canoe trip.

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Our 5th canoe trip this month! this one guided by Tammi Matula. and Andrew Gibbs. The Allagash is our number one trip for spotting moose and other wildlife. Makes for a great Maine family vacation, choose 4 to 8 days, part or the entire wilderness waterway. Pictures taken by Tammi Matula. click here for Canoe the Wild’s 2019 schedule.

Looking for adventure while vacationing in Maine this summer? How about Canoe camping with kids on Maine’s Allagash and St. Croix Rivers? Pictured here is the Kellner family on a recent memorial day weekend Allagash canoe trip. Kids thrive in the outdoors as they explore, play, learn new skills and tire themselves out while having so much fun!  Plan your Maine summer vacation that is experiential in nature and your kids will love it! Canoe the wild provides friendly competent Maine guides, all necessary equipment, meals and instruction as needed. Visit our 2018 summer schedule to view 3 to 6 day options. Contact Canoe the Wild to discuss your desired trip.

MAINE’S BEST 3 & 4 DAY CANOE TRIPS

Throughout 2018 we will feature a series of articles from guest-blogger Dave Conley, Master Maine Guide and owner of Canoe The Wild, a canoe guiding operation in Maine’s Grand Lake region. Dave’s decades of experience guiding canoe trips on North America’s most scenic, and challenging, rivers has given him a wealth of knowledge on everything from trip planning and paddle techniques to wilderness cooking and safety protocol. We hope his wisdom inspires you to get out and plan an adventure of your own.

While many streams and rivers become unreliable for canoe tripping after the spring runoff, plans can be made throughout the summer on the St. Croix, Penobscot and Allagash Rivers due to dams at their headwater lakes. Even in a dry season, enough water is usually released to make a trip possible.  For ideal short Maine canoe trips, I have chosen to feature three days on the St. Croix River and four days on the Allagash.

Old Town canoe trips on the St. Croix river in Old Town Discovery.

THE ST. CROIX RIVER

Designated as a Canadian Heritage River, the St. Croix flows along the eastern Maine border with New Brunswick, Canada, offering great wilderness scenery, moderate whitewater, maintained campsites and fishing for small mouth bass. The St Croix is well suited for families and groups of all ages with little or no experience and can be paddled all summer long.

With miles of quick water, numerous class I rapids, and a couple of class II rapids that can be paddled, lined or portaged, it’s easy to see why the St. Croix is one of Maine’s best canoe trips. The St. Croix is an ideal river to learn and improve basic paddling and camping skills. The more advanced paddler will appreciate the quick water, numerous rapids and may even want to try their skill at solo paddling or canoe poling.

Campsites located on the river’s edge are rustic, with picnic tables, fire pit, outbox and space to pitch tents. Cooking can be over an open fire and or a compact camping stove. A more relaxed schedule allows time to swim, fish, read a book, and enjoy quality time with friends and family.

With numerous starting and ending points, a trip from 1-7 days is possible.

Paddling the St. Croix river in an Old Town Discovery canoe.

For the 3-day option with a more relaxed schedule (remember you’re on vacation), starting in Vanceboro and taking out at Loon Bay, three days and 20 miles later is recommended. Keep in mind on day one, factor in for traveling to Vanceboro that morning, unloading, loading canoes, and connecting with your shuttle driver.  Launching typically happens mid-morning.  Arriving at your first campsite upriver of Little Falls by early afternoon allows time for setting up camp and other chores such as collecting, sawing and splitting fire wood, fetching water for cooking and washing, meal preparations and cooking. You’ll want a little down time to enjoy fishing for small mouth bass, taking a swim or possibly exploring by canoe. Before you know it, it’s time to eat supper and it’s nice to finish up the dishes before dark! On day two, you’ll take on Little Falls which, depending upon water level is typically an easy class II rapid. You’ll want to scout this rapid to view obstacles and plan your best route. Portaging is an option. Camping in the Scott’s Brook to Split Rock area campsites are just about right for day two. On the last day, you’ll want to be underway by 9-9:30 AM, arriving at Loon Bay around noontime or early afternoon. This allows time to load up and be on your way home or to your next destination be late afternoon or early evening.

THE ALLAGASH WILDERNESS WATERWAY

The Allagash is Maine’s best-known canoe trip and has attracted paddler’s for more than a century. Henry David Thoreau ventured into this region more than 150 years ago by traveling into the Allagash via the Mud Pond Carry from the West Penobscot watershed. The legendary Allagash is Maine’s only designated Wild and Scenic River.

Allagash canoe trips are popular with families, scouts, teens, summer camps, as well as adult and youth groups. With its easy flowing river sections and its moderate whitewater on Chase Stream Rapids, the Allagash is well suited for ages 12 and up. It is one of the few eastern rivers that can be paddled for a week or longer without coming into contact with modern civilization.

If you’re hoping to encounter wildlife, the Allagash is where you want to be. It has consistently been Maine’s best canoe trip for spotting wildlife, including moose and eagles. With numerous put in and take out locations, outings can be planned from four to ten days.

The best times to paddle the Allagash depend on what you’re looking for. Late May through mid-June is less travelled and the optimal time for brook trout fishing but be prepared for black flies and Mosquitoes. Late June through Labor Day weekend is the most popular time to paddle the Allagash. The days are warm and nights are cool. Early fall is an excellent time with fewer people, no bugs, and the beginning of fall colors.

At its headwaters, are numerous lakes including Chamberlain, Allagash, Eagle, and Churchill. The northern section taking you from Chase Stream Rapids to Allagash Village, involves mostly river travel; you’ll be paddling Umsuskis and Long Lakes, Round Pond, and portaging around 40′ Allagash Falls.

The region is rich in logging history, and there are numerous artifacts that can be explored from days gone by.  You’ll have a chance to visit the remains of Lombard stream haulers, a tramway from Eagle to Chamberlain Lake, and two locomotives on the shores of Eagle Lake.

Fly fishing on the Allagash River in northern Maine in an Old Town canoe.

With the four-day option, a trip from Round Pond to Allagash Village (35 miles) is recommended. Keep in mind that the first and last days typically tend to be ½ days on the river, launching around noontime of day one and ending by early afternoon of the last day. For those that want to put a few more miles on, start on Long Lake and end in Allagash Village (50 miles), but if you end up with a strong head wind when launching on Long Lake, you’ll lose a day of paddling as you’ll be camping near your launch location.

When launching at Henderson Bridge just upstream of Round Pond, you’ll more then likely arrive early afternoon on Round Pond with figuring in the morning drive in from Allagash Village, launching and time spent at a North Maine Woods gate. The North Maine Woods charges fees to cross their lands and collects fees for the state of Maine for being on the Allagash, which is a state park. When camping on Round Pond, you’re more than likely be treated to the song of the loon. If time permits, you can hike to the abandoned Round Pond Fire Tower, a 4.8-mile round trip with the trailhead being at the Tower Trial Campsite. Arriving early at camp on Round Pond and finishing up supper and chores, allows you daylight and time to paddle over to the inlet, a popular alder/marsh area where moose feed on aquatic vegetation anytime of the day with dawn and dusk being most active. Day two involves paddling on lively Round Pond Rips where precise bow maneuvers keeps the canoe off the rocks. Next will be Musquacook Deadwater, a great place to spot moose and bald eagles. Stop where Musquacook Stream enters the Allagash and take a few casts for brook trout! Choose a campsite that afternoon near Cunliffe Depot, Ramsey Ledges or push on to Allagash Falls. Be sure to stop just upstream of Cunliffe Depot on river right, where a path leads you back in time to the abandoned Lombard gas and stream haulers, once used to move logs to the river’s edge awaiting the spring runoff and log drive!

Approach Allagash Falls with caution and watch for the portage signs. The portage is on river right. Allagash Falls is a 40’ drop over many sharp rocks and outcroppings of ledge. After completing the portage, take time for lunch and exploring the falls. Some (with caution and checking for depth first) enjoy jumping from ledges well below and downstream from the falls, floating 50 yards or so before climbing out and repeating! Plan on camping at Allagash Falls or one of many sites just below Allagash Falls such as McKeen Brook and the Big Brook Campsites.  It is about a 3-hour paddle on day four, arriving in Allagash Village by early afternoon leaving you time to travel to points in central or southern Maine by evening.

WHAT A GUIDED TRIP WITH CANOE THE WILD OFFERS…

Excellent Instruction

Our guides will instruct you in the basics (as needed) on and off the river. We’ll go over how to handle a canoe including proper canoe strokes, how to work in sync with your canoe partner and reading the river. Guides will discuss potential river hazards and how to avoid them. Upon arriving at the campsite, guides discuss how to set up camp including setting up tents, group tarp and what needs to be done in the way of camp chores.

Knowledge and Experience of Canoe Routes

With years of experience, we’ve become quite efficient with the whole process including best times to go, places to start and end your trip, where to camp, what rapids to scout, river distances and time needed to travel, points of interest, and the knowledge & experience of your canoe route so you can have a safe and enjoyable time.

A Hands on Approach

We’ll be sure to include you in as much as you desire around the campsite. We welcome involvement with setting up and taking down camp. Most people desire hands on involvement with camp chores including meal preparation, fetching water, cooking, collecting and cutting firewood. Canoe trips are a great place to learn or improve upon skills such as proper canoemanship, reading the river, knots and uses, map & compass, cooking over an open fire and wilderness baking.

Exceptional Safety Record

I have been guiding canoe trips for many years on numerous Maine and Eastern Canadian Rivers– everything from family friendly to advanced whitewater trips. We have an excellent safety record on all of our trips. We understand the importance of maintaining a safe environment. The registered Maine Guides that work for me have the skills and proven experience to lead wilderness canoe trips. We review trip protocols with all participants prior to going downriver and upon arriving at the campsite. The safety and well-being of everyone is of utmost importance while on trips.

Campsite Efficiency

Maine trip campsites are located along the river’s edge, have a picnic table, fire pit, outhouse or outbox and plenty of room to set up tents. Canadian trip campsites tend to be more primitive and we plan accordingly. Guides are efficient with campsite setup and takedown, providing quick shelter, and hot and hardy meals cooked over an open fire.

Planning & Packing

We take care of all pre-trip planning, including lining up shuttles or transport services, making reservations when needed, menu, shopping for food, packing meals and group gear. A four-day canoe trip is actually six to seven days of work for a guide

MEALS SERVED ON OUR TRIPS

Breakfasts include the best organic coffee, assortment of regular and herbal teas and hot chocolate, whole grain rolled oats, fruit, buttermilk pancakes served with real Maine blueberries and syrup or homemade raspberry syrup, and the traditional Maine guide breakfast of local farm fresh eggs, meat and organic potatoes.

Lunches are on the fly and may include make your own wraps with assorted breads, variety of meats and cheeses, tuna, lettuce, pickles and tomatoes. We always have peanut butter & homemade jelly packed for the kids. Snack foods include trail mix, beef jerky, carrots, peanut butter, bars, cookies, and fruit.

Suppers may include the best cuts of locally raised rib-eye steaks, wild caught salmon, vegetables, fresh cooked biscuits, BBQ chicken, spaghetti with a homemade sauce and garlic bread, chicken, rice, vegetables and dumplings, fresh salads and freshly baked desserts including brownies, gingerbread and strawberry shortcake.

We can adjust the menu for special dietary needs including vegetarians. For the gluten free folks, we’ll discuss items you can bring to substitute where needed.

Gear is Provided

All necessary camping equipment including river bags to keep your clothing dry, self-inflating compact sleeping pads, durable Old Town canoes, compact camp chairs to relax around the campsite, type III life jackets, paddles, spacious outfitter tents, group tarp, cooking & eating utensils, well stocked first aid kit and for a little added peace of mind, a Delorme InReach, a two way satellite communicator. You may have some of your own equipment you prefer to bring.  Please contact us to discuss your gear.

Transportation/shuttle

Included in the cost of your St. Croix River canoe trip is having your vehicle moved to the takeout location. For the Allagash canoe trip, we transport you into the launch location and return you to your vehicle at trip’s end.

Canoe the Wild 2018 Schedule

To learn more about these and other canoe trip options, please visit Canoe the Wild’s 2018 schedule webpage. Contact Dave Conley for questions you may have when planning your next canoe trip.

Dave Conley Master Maine Guide and owner of Canoe the Wild, has been paddling the rivers of Maine and Canada since 1985. During the school year, Dave teaches an outdoor education program at East Grand High School in Danforth, ME, host to the annual East Grand Adventure Race. In the fall, guided moose hunts are offered in northern Maine.

Bonaventure-River-Canoe-Trip-Vance

by Vance Gustin,

Deep into the wilderness of the Gaspé Peninsula of south eastern Quebec and nested in the foothills of the Chic-Choc mountains lay the crystal clear headwaters of the famed Bonaventure River. The shuttle up to the headwaters began by weaving its way up along the neighboring Cascapédia river on a paved road that seemed like the twisting back of a giant snake. As the road turned from asphalt to gravel the ride became quite a bit rougher and the canoes on the trailer bounced around with a muted thumping akin to the eager beating of our hearts. For some the journey had started in such faraway places as Wisconsin while others had made the somewhat shorter trip up from Portland Maine.

Far below the crest of the hill our tents appeared no larger than a child’s toys and the lazy wisp of smoke from the campfire was barely visible in the dying light of the sun.  Liam and I had raced up the rocky slopes of a hill adjacent to our campsite to catch the beautiful vista of the Bonaventure river valley at sunset.

“We should start heading back down before it becomes hard to see.” I said to Liam.

He quietly nodded and we began the trek down to camp. About halfway down we met Bo, Bence, Steve and Josh on their way up and I quickly snapped a group photo before encouraging them to join Liam and me on our descent. The first day on the Bonaventure had been interesting: we’d crossed both Lac Bonaventure and Petit lac Bonaventure and made our way down a narrow mountain stream to the gravel bar we now called home. Over the course of the next couple of days we’d be paddling through the maze of dry-ki (standing or fallen weather beaten timber) covered banks and shallow class one and two rapids.

Three boats were manned by father-son teams; Bo and Bob whose names I always confused usually were the first boat behind Dave who was paddling solo and the lead guide.  Bob had just retired the previous Friday and had plans for many different river trips this summer; he and Bo always seemed to have a smile on their faces as they weaved their way down between the rocks. The second father son pair was Steve and Bence who had done this river together some thirty odd years ago.  The final father son pair was Brian and Liam; Brian was introducing Liam to canoe camping for the first time and it was awesome watching them take their canoeing partnership from its fledgling stages all the way up to a fully functioning team.  The other boats in our entourage were Chris, a master of the Black Spruce pole, Josh and Tim who were very funny and warmhearted and myself. The group was a mixture of family and old friends. Most having paddled with Chewonki over the years,  a shared experience across the generations of the joys of the wilderness, a passing of the torch.

The trip down the Bonaventure River is an experience we won’t soon forget.  Early in the morning the birds start to sing their melodious sonnets and the fresh smell of spruce and fir trees mixes with the smoky smell of the fire. Soon the coffee would be ready and the warm feel of the cup in your hands was a welcome counter to the crisp cool air of the break of day. After a hearty breakfast had been served, gear was packed and loaded into the canoes.  The river itself was a translucent flow of water over a kaleidoscope of slate grey, reddish-brown and white striped gravel and rocks.  At times the water was so clear and calm it seemed as if you were floating on air. The river seemed to murmur gently encouraging the dancing canoes as they navigated the swift flowing waters. We ate lunch on gravel bars, occasionally skipping a rock or two across the river.  Tim, Bo and Bob were always on the lookout for the legendary Atlantic salmon and many a dark shadow or flash of silver was quickly investigated.  Some of the bigger class two and three rapids were scouted from shore and Dave would usually set up at their base to take pictures. The Bonaventure gorge had a couple of drops which the water level would not allow for safe passage and we promptly lined our boats along the shore.  The lower section of the river transitioned from shallow mountain stream to wide river cascading between salmon pools.  A large rapid would be followed by a deep pool and occasionally a friendly fisherman in his boat.

The second to last day on the river a thunderstorm sprung upon us from the south and we spent an hour or so huddled on shore in a stand of alders. Dave and I lit a fire to warm our companions and provide a distraction from the storm raging around us.  Tim and Brian managed to gather enough firewood to burn down a small village while Bo and Bence picked around the gravel beach looking for souvenirs.  Chris, Bob and Steve quietly conversed while huddled under their rain jackets.

“The storm’s about to let up” Tim would say in a hopeful voice during each small break in the rain.

Eventually the storm did pass but not before Tim had hopefully proclaimed our salvation a half dozen times.  The day did an about-face and the sun burst from the clouds in radiant joy.  The river cooled by the rain immediately released a thick fog about six feet high which lent an eerie feeling to our afternoon paddle down to camp.

Our last day on the river was an early morning affair with breakfast being finished before 6:15 AM.  A long drive lay ahead for all of us and we were eager to once again join the world of the twenty first century. It was a bittersweet feeling shaking hands and heading our separate ways.  However, I am sure that it won’t be long until we all once again heed the call of the river.

Vance has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, E.I.T., and is currently a Graduate Research Associate at the Ohio State University, William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular engineering.

Visit Canoe the Wild for more information on paddling the Bonaventure River, Next trip scheduled for June, 2018 

 

Trip Highlights from 2015. River trips including the Allagash canoe trip, St. Croix River, Cascapedia, NE Mistassibi river trip, Liard River Trip, Yukon Canada and Penobscot Rivers. also a few pictures from a moose photography outing and moose hunting wall tent base camps in the North Maine Woods. My 2016 schedule Maine canoe trips includes 3 day, 4 day and longer trips on Maine  and Canadian rivers. Most canoe trips are for the beginner, and no extreme workouts or conditioning required before you trip. An active life style including walking and stretching for a few weeks prior to the trip is helpful. Canoe trips are fully outfitted and guided. More information is available at Canoe the Wild.com

Canoe-camping can be fun and safe for all ages. Pictured here is the Sanders family of Miami Florida on a four day and three night guided and outfitted St. Croix River canoe trip. When going it alone, you’ll want to have good basic canoeing and camping skills, be comfortable in class I-II rapids. know the J, pry, draw and cross draw strokes. You’ll want to keep the bow between the rocks therefore avoiding broaching rocks. It is helpful to have knowledge of the river, know the current water levels and being prepared for an unexpected high water release. Come properly prepared for all weather conditions (rain, wind, heat, cold) with the right equipment and clothing. Do you have a good waterproofing system for your clothes, gear and food? A backup plan in case of an emergency? I carry Delorme’s In Reach Sat communicator in case of an emergancy. Do you know the closest routes out? Make it fun for kids by letting them explore, discover nature, learn new skills such as knots, fire building and collecting fire wood. Provide good food, warm shelter and take several preventative steps including staying hydrated and shielding yourself from the sun. Always wear a proper fitting type III life jacket while paddling. Wearing shoes while canoeing, wading, swimming and in camp will help protect your feet. Use caution around the fire and hot water. If you are not experienced  at canoe camping, you may want to consider hiring a guide. For more info on the St. Croix River and guided trips with Dave Conley visit www.canoethewild.com