Still have unplanned vacation time this summer? The best of Maine isn’t explored on a coastal highway. You want to experience something new and not be caught up in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The only way to fully escape and revitalize is on the water. Canoe trips let you take it the natural beauty of Maine with a whole new and fresh perspective. Reconnect with nature on one of the three most famous canoe routes in the Pine Tree State.
1) SACO RIVER
Travel Time: Most Local
Skill level: Easy
Paddle Duration: Weekend
You’re most likely to choose this trip if you’re looking to break out of town with limited days off from work or you’re looking to escape locally with a few friends, a full cooler of ice cold beers and a sense of adventure. As one of the most travelled rivers in Maine, you can guarantee there is a reason for the popularity – scenic views, a relaxing paddle and sandy river banks. With that popularity also comes “river traffic”. For the best locations to launch and take-out of the river, see the below outfitters. Whether you choose to use their services or simply plan your own itinerary – enjoy!
2) WEST BRANCH OF THE PENOBSCOT
Travel Time: Off the Beaten Path
Skill level: Moderate
Paddle Duration: 4-6 Days
So you’re bound and determined to leave the city behind for a week’s vacation? You want to feel what it’s like to really be in the woods, but have a safe, fairly easy paddle? This trip is for you. You’ll be able to explore a historic waterway where lumbermen worked for a century with little more than the clothes on their backs. Within an hour’s drive of Millinocket, you’ll reach Lobster Lake to launch your canoe. It’s convenient to have two vehicles, one as a pick-up at the end of Chesuncook Lake (the finish point). The gatehouse will explain all the details to you as you check into the North Maine Woods. The other option, should you have only one vehicle, is to contact the Chesuncook Lake House. If you leave your keys at a discussed location (gas cap, or some other inconspicuous location) they’ll transport your vehicle to their Inn (which also shortens the paddle for you!). I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sunrises and experienced some of the best times of my life on this river.
3) ALLAGASH WATERWAY
Travel Time: Middle of Nowhere
Skill level: Difficult
Paddle Duration: 7-10 Days
Arguably one of the best paddles in the country. The remoteness of this area in Maiine speaks volumes to the scenery and wildlife you’ll experience. It’s best advised to hire a guide for this trip. Even experienced paddlers tend to seek an outfitting service to lead them down the Allagash. This is the only river on the list that you’ll need to portage around waterfalls. You’ll not want to miss the take-out locations, which can be tricky to spot. You’ll feel more comfortable with someone familiar with the waterway, plus you can now pay more attention to the scenery than referencing maps. You’ll have a couple coolers full of pre-planned meals and nothing feels better than sitting around a campfire for a week watching your well-deserved meals being slow-cooked over an open flame. Here are a couple services you can contact: