For many avid canoeists, the Allagash River Canoe Trip is on their bucket list, and for good reason. Protected by the citizens of Maine through a referendum in 1966, the mandate was to preserve its “forever wild” state. It truly is some of the wildest areas left in the east.
In this article, we’ll help you plan your first Allagash River Canoe Trip by giving you an overview of what you can expect on the river and the best months to schedule your trip with a clothing and equipment checklist.
If you have moderate canoeing and camping experience, the Allagash River presents an ideal adventure. Here’s what you can expect on your Allagash River Canoe Trip:
The Allagash River offers well-maintained and marked campsites, each providing essential amenities such as a stone fireplace, picnic table, and outhouse. Therefore, you get to have a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience as you immerse yourself in nature.
The allure of the Allagash River lies in its varied river conditions. As you navigate its waters, you’ll encounter stretches of calm, serene waters perfect for relaxation, as well as sections with beginner-level rapids that add an exciting touch to your journey.
Moreover, the recommended minimum water flow for the Allagash is 700 CFS, and you can check it by visiting the USGS website.
Among the highlights of the Allagash River is the magnificent 40-foot Allagash Falls. To continue your canoe trip, canoeists will need to perform a carry (portage) around this spectacular natural wonder. This short portage, spanning approximately one-third of a mile, adds an element of physical challenge, requiring you to be reasonably fit. However, the effort is well worth it because you get to see the grandeur of the falls up close.
The Allagash River has gained a reputation as one of the best wildlife-viewing canoe trips. Moose sightings are common along the riverbanks, offering an incredible opportunity to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
Additionally, birders will be delighted to know that the Allagash country is the southern extent of various Boreal bird species, making it a haven for avian enthusiasts.
As mentioned earlier, the area is very remote with no cell service, or services of any kind for that matter. So it is highly recommended that you carry a satellite communicator, such as Garmin’s inReach Explorer+, for emergency communication.
Most people take out in the town of Allagash, which locals refer to as “Moose Town,” due to its abundant moose population. Since reaching the put-in location involves navigating approximately 50 miles of winding gravel logging roads, we highly recommend utilizing the shuttle services available in the towns of Allagash or Saint Francis. This way, you won’t have to drive through the maze-like road network.
However, if you do drive to the put-in in your vehicle, you should have two spares (hint hint).
The most crowded months tend to be July and August when there can often be a large number of guided parties and sometimes noisy youth groups on the river. So to avoid these crowds, it’s best to plan your trip around the months of May, June, and September through the first week of October.
May and June consistently provide good water levels, making the rapids easier to navigate. But the first hatch of black flies also occurs during the last week of May and lasts through the month of June. Still, we have had many wonderful trips on the Allagash in June. Here’s what you need to add to your trip essentials during this time of the year:
If you do not want to put DEET on your skin, as it does melt plastic, we recommend Old Time Woodsman Fly Dope or another insect repellent with all-natural ingredients.
In the fall, the water levels tend to be much less predictable than in May and June as water flow in the river is entirely dependent on rainfall during that season. Despite this unpredictability, we have successfully organized numerous Allagash River trips even below our recommended 700 CFS minimum. However, when the water levels dip below 700 CFS, we switch from paddles to setting poles to navigate the rips.
And the best thing about fall? NO BUGS! During these months, there are normally very few bugs, and from mid-September through the first week of October, you also get to witness spectacular fall colors.
To fully enjoy your trip, it’s essential to come prepared. Remember to pack a few extra layers of wool clothing or synthetics as the temperatures can drop, especially at night and in the mornings.
As you prepare for your Allagash River Canoe Trip, gearing up appropriately is essential to make the most of your wilderness adventure. Upon your arrival, we ensure you are well-equipped with vital gear:
While we cover these basics, you’ll also need personal essentials, including:
The Allagash River was the first federally designated “Wild and Scenic River.” For any canoeist who enjoys solitude, remote undeveloped country, and watching wildlife, it should be on your bucket list.
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Kevin & Polly, We had such an amazing experience on our 3 day Umbagog Lake trip. You both were wonderful and a pleasure to watch you work. We will remember and cherish that weekend for the rest of our lives. Hope to get back again to visit and have another adventure! Thank you!