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Backpacker Magazine – September 2005

Paddling's Greatest Getaways

16 wild ways to find backcountry solitude and big-time scenery. All this, and you can bring the ice chest, too.

by: Larry Rice


©Tom Bol
Lea Cove, Isle Royale National Park
{Michigan/Minnesota}

Best Island Kayaking
Is there another national park where boaters, wolves, and blueberries mix so perfectly?

Like a day at the stock market, Isle Royale National Park's story can be told in numbers: More than 98 percent of this 850-square-mile island is designated wilderness, and it takes at least 2 hours to get there by ferry. The first two numbers are powerful attractors, but the last one keeps the kayaking crowds away. Result? Paddlers who make the effort to reach Isle Royale will find hermit-worthy solitude even in midsummer, when hikers flock to the park's trails but leave the coastal areas to kayakers. Two options: Camp near the Rock Harbor Lighthouse on Caribou or Tookers Islands, and explore the coastline and small offshore islands nearby; or tackle the three-portage route linking Chippewa Harbor, Lake Whittlesey, Wood Lake, Siskiwit Lake, and Intermediate Lake (a special permit allows you to camp anywhere along the shorelines; elsewhere, camping is restricted to designated sites). From Chippewa Harbor, ambitious paddlers can actually connect lake-to-lake portages all the way across the island and catch the ferry at McCargoe Cove. When you're not on the water, look for moose, listen for wolves, and hunt for blueberries.

Get there Board the Voyageur II at Grand Portage, MN, and get dropped off at Chippewa Harbor (for the inland route) or Rock Harbor (for coastal paddling). Ferry service: www.grand-isle-royale.com. Kayak rentals and guided trips: www.superiorcoastal.com

Season May through October

Difficulty Moderate. Bad weather can make coastal kayaking tough for inexperienced paddlers.

Contact Isle Royale National Park, (906) 482-0984; www.nps.gov/isro




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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
Pennyyork
Feb 02, 2013

was wondering if anyone knew my father kenneth York he guided the Allagash for years.I would be interested thank you

Markus Harrild
Apr 02, 2012

Although you've listed some great waterways, and have limited space for your article, you know, your readers are going to chide you about not listing their favorites. So, to add to that list of incredulousness, when was the last time you paddled down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, in Central Idaho. For raw jaw-dropping beauty, aqueous power, a wicked challenge, and a great trip, you've got to list this gnarled ribbon of water that slices through the River of No Return Wilderness. I could understand leaving other waterways off your list, but not this beauty!

Anonymous
Mar 30, 2012

Wow, I can't believe the (insert favorite) river wasn't included. This is the best! Some of the most beautiful scenery is found on the (insert favorite) river....

Peter Swiderski
Mar 29, 2012

Wait a minute. Just wait a minute. You left out the Green River in Utah? Whether its Desolation Valley or Labyrnth Canyon or Stillwater, we are talking the most spectacular rafting and canoeing in the country, bar none, nothing even close. Please. Just my humble opinion, but seriously. Green River, for like 200 miles. THAT'S amazing.

Peter Swiderski
Mar 29, 2012

Wait a minute. Just wait a minute. You left out the Green River in Utah? Whether its Desolation Valley or Labyrnth Canyon or Stillwater, we are talking the most spectacular rafting and canoeing in the country, bar none, nothing even close. Please. Just my humble opinion, but seriously. Green River, for like 200 miles. THAT'S amazing.

Richard M McFadden
Mar 29, 2012

WOW! Do not depend on Larry Rice on this one. First off. The Glory Hole pictured is not even in the Buffalo watershed. Second, the LOWER section will be low in the Fall. The upper half of the river will be virtually dry. The Buffalo is rain dependent, not spring fed. Summer is hot and humid with low algae filled water. The Buffalo is my river. It is by far my favorite river and I spend a lot of time there. Obviously Larry Rice does not. I will be joining Kenneth L Smith tomorrow for a week of trailbuilding on the Buffalo. Ken will be trailbuilding in the fall. If you love trails it is a chance to be in a wonderful place extending the Buffalo River Trail.
rmmcfadden@yahoo.com.

DblKnt
Mar 29, 2012

The Allagash is indeed beautiful in Sept / Oct
but the river sections are very shallow and rocky.
You will likely be limited to the lakes.

Summer months usually have the best river flow.
Bring 100% DEET and a head net!

David Scarborough
Mar 29, 2012

I cant believe yall left out the Alabama Scenic River Trail, a trail that spans from NE Alabama to the Gulf of Mexico and includes the Bartram Canoe Trail, a trail that meanders through the beautiful Mobile/Tensaw River Delta.
http://www.alabamascenicrivertrail.com/
http://www.outdooralabama.com/outdoor-adventures/bartram/index.htm

Anonymous
Mar 29, 2012

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