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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


{Maine}

Best of The Maine Woods
Paddle, portage, and camp along the wild Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

The Allagash is to paddlers what the John Muir Trail is to hikers: a must-do journey that any motivated camper can make. In both places, the scenery is world-class, and the main challenge is time, not difficulty. You'll want at least a week to cover the Allagash's 92 miles; allow a few more days as a cushion for weather and rest.

The waterway is a classic Northeast canoe trail linking lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, and portages. In the fall, the North Woods catches fire with the reds and golds of maple, beech, and other hardwoods, while fir and spruce dominate the vast evergreen forests. You'll hear zany loon laughter, see bald eagles and moose and bears, and-if you're lucky and quiet-perhaps spot elusive locals such as the lynx or fisher. Spend nights in secluded camps where solitude is guaranteed; the state of Maine has installed more than 80 designated sites along the route. Most of the paddling is flatwater, but novices will be tested at the Class II Chase Rapids at mile 38. Allow plenty of time to savor Allagash Falls, then portage your boat and gear 200 yards around the drop. The only other portages are a couple of short walks around dams.

Get there Put in at Chamberlain Lake (take Pinkham Rd. from Ashland); take out at Allagash Village on ME 11. Rentals and shuttles: www.northmainewoods.org/business.html.

Season September and October; summer is possible, but buggy

Difficulty Moderate. It's mostly flatwater (with some Class I-II paddling), but the route is long and remote.

Contact Maine Parks, (207) 941-4014; www.state.me.us/doc/parks/programs/db_search. North Maine Woods, (207) 435-6213; www.northmainewoods.org




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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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