Archives for posts with tag: Maine canoe trips

Day canoe trip on the St. Croix River with East Grand school students. Check out our 2019 schedule for St. Croix, Allagash and Bonaventure River canoe trips!  Trips are fully outfitted and guided.

Advertisements

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.

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.

Canoe the Wild offers outfitted and guided custom canoe trips for school, youth, scout, adult, friends, family groups. Pictured here is a school group while on a 3 day St. Croix River Canoe Trip. Maine River trips are ideal for your next group outing. Canoe the Wild can fully outfit and guide your  group. everything is provided and all your group members will need are a few changes of clothing and sleeping bag, we’ll take care of the rest. Visit Maine on your next summer vacation.  Contact Canoe the wild to discuss putting a trip together for your group.

Maine canoe trips, Maine summer vacations, weekend getaways, discover Maine

Maine is a great destination for adventure recreation seekers of all ability levels and first timers including, weekend getaways, day trips, overnight and longer paddle trips on Maine rivers for your family, friends and custom group outings. The St. Croix River, Allagash River, West branch of the Penobscot, and the East Branch of the Penobscot through the new National Monument known as Katahdin Woods and Waters are all great Maine destinations that can be paddled all summer long. For those looking for a little more adventure, Canoe the Wild offers trips into Canada on the Bonaventure River ,NE Mistissibi River., Liard River in the Yukon and remote fishing for Brook Trout on the de Pas River in Quebec.  Canoe the Wild is an outfitter that provides everything you need to make your trip safe and enjoyable including experienced registered Maine guides whom have great people skills, equipment that is new or like new including Old Town canoes, tents, group tarp, cooking and eating utensils and meals that are top notch! Visit out website and 2017 summer schedule and discover why Maine is a great destination for all ages. vacations.  CanoetheWild.com 

 

DSC_2605

Canoeing the Wild with Friends
by Tony Mason.

As we stood on the rocks at the side of the Cascapedia in Quebec, we viewed two sharp drops in the rapids. Our guide, Dave Conley pointed them out.
“You can avoid them by staying to the left. If you get into that top one broadside you may never get out!”
“You mean we could die?” I said.
Everyone laughed, somewhat nervously.
After paddling down the river for two days we had heard the load sound of the upcoming rapids so Dave had recommended that we walk down to the bend in the river to scout the obstacles. Our group consisted of four friends from Amherst College classes of 1964 and 1965, plus the son and son in law of Bob Krughoff, and Michael, a friend of Dave’s who was a teacher at Lawrence School attended by both my children years back, and Vance who was Dave’s assistant. Bob had proposed the trip after receiving strong urging from his children. When he arrived he was disappointed that Dave had planned starting further down the Bonaventure River instead of starting at the top of the gorge.
“The river is as high as I have seen it” Dave warned when we first arrived at our campsite on the coast of the Gaspe. “ I have gone down this river 14 times and I know the risks.”
He then repeated about six times that the river was near record high due to recent rains.
Bob had not arrived at that point because he had to wait for his luggage which had not made the transfer at the airport. The rest of us readily agreed with Dave who projected a sense of competence and wisdom. We then learned after starting to paddle that Bob had mastered only the J-stroke. This was not particularly helpful when trying to “eddy out” on the riverbank. Consequently in the early going Bob’s boat would come in without turning, ramming another canoe or the shore. Luckily he had his son-in-law Denjar in the bow who quickly learned how to control the canoe so their performance improved.
However, when we reached the class 3 rapids with the heavy drops Bob nervously tried practicing other techniques. After scouting the river we walked back to our canoes and began descending the river one at a time. Dave started first, as usual standing in the canoe controlling the direction with a pole. He made it look easy. This somewhat lifted the confidence for the rest of us. Next went Vance, a recent college grad on the way to Ohio State in chemical engineering, who Dave had hired to help with the trip. Vance extremely skilled in the canoe, assisted with every aspect of the trip. Those of us remaining watched from up the river as he rounded the bend, passed the high waves without difficulty. Next came Larry Dewitt using his strong strokes and darting technique characteristic of his winning style on the soccer field at Amherst. He also was successful. Then it was Bob and Denjar. We watched as they disappeared around the bend but then there was a long delay before Dave gave the signal for the next canoe, We learned that Denjar made a heroic effort while Bob was doing some variation of his J- stroke as they hit a rock, spun around backwards and then tipped over. Alex Krughoff, Bob’s son, was in the bow as he and I guided the “Nimrod” safely down the passage. Alex had coined the name for our canoe. Both of us weighed over 200 lbs causing less freeboard and the momentum of an aircraft carrier. Michael, who had brought is own canoe and plenty of experience looked like a pro as he threaded his way. Then Chuck using his calm deli berate technique passed through the waves with a resolute expression on his face.
After that excitement we pulled over to the side of the river to have lunch. Dave and Vance set up the usual table covered with assortments of cold cuts, peanut butter, lettuce, tomatoes, and a choice of bread or a pita wrap, as well as watermelon, grapes and cookies.. As always we ate well. Dave had supplied two coolers and several sealed barrels which each produced magical items such as fresh wild salmon, choice steaks, and pork loin which he would cook on a large iron frying pan over the fire. With each day we would all marvel about all the meticulous preparations for the trip.
One night sitting around the campfire Dave remarked how the woods gave him a spiritual sense. He respected the wild life and enjoyed taking photographs with his fine camera with a telescopic lens. Larry had a similar camera at home which lead to long discussions between them about the pros and cons of camera equipment.
Michael and I never won a cribbage game. Having played with my parents, Dave had given me a refresher on the rules and then soundly defeated me in a game. Then a round of team contests ensued. Michael and I first lost to the Krughoffs¸ then to Dave and Vance who again proved his competence in all things. He also knew many obscure facts about canoeing and chemicals. By the end of the trip when ever some question arose we would say “ask Vance”.
After Bob and Denjar had flipped their canoe the rest of us felt quite smug, until the next day when Alex and I hit some large standing waves. With the first one we took on water, with the second more water leaving only a few inches of freeboard. Then we began to tip. We both yelled simultaneously “The Nimrod is going down!”. We were able to get near the shore before submerging, but since the current was strong I was starting to float downstream. Suddenly Vance’s canoe appeared along side us for the rescue.
On the lower part of the river we saw two eagles-one sitting just above the large nest high in the tree. We did not see a moose but one night I pitched my tent just a few feet from some old moose tracks in the sand. I was awakened during the night by a loud “crack” sound. I peeked out of the tent, could it be a moose? Then it happened a few times more. I surmised it must have been fish jumping but next morning Dave told me it was a beaver telling us to keep our distance. The next day we paddled down to our final take out point near the mouth of the river. During the trip we had shared the woods with the wildlife as well as sharing many stories with each other. For more information about river trips in Maine and Canada with Dave Conley visit Canoe the Wild.com

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