Canoe Trips

All our Maine canoe trips are fully outfitted and guided by Mahoosuc Guide Service’s owners Polly or Kevin. We provide all the food, camping, paddling, and cooking equipment, as well as a detailed clothing list to help you in packing for your trip. Most of our trips meet in Orono, Maine (just north of Bangor). We provide transportation to and from the river. Many of our canoe trips require no special physical conditioning. If you have any concerns about the physical requirements of a trip, please contact us. 

On the Trip

We are experienced teachers and will help you master the art of canoeing by teaching paddle strokes and poling techniques. You will learn how to set up a warm dry camp, and if you want, how to cook and bake over an open fire. All our food is natural or organic, and we source much of our food locally. Natural history, wildlife viewing, and fishing will be covered as your interests warrant.

Safety

You are in safe hands with Mahoosuc Guide Service. With more than 40 years guiding experience from Maine and Quebec to the Yukon and Alaska, we have an excellent safety record. We are certified in Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder. We carry a satellite phone for emergency communication.

Custom Trips

Mahoosuc Guide Service can design custom Maine canoe trips for families, youth groups, clubs, or organizations from one to 10 days in length. We can also design trips to retrace any part of Henry David Thoreau’s route, including Webster Brook and East Branch of the Penobscot River. Contact Polly or Kevin at (207) 824-2073 or mahoosucguides@gmail.com to discuss your group’s interests, abilities, goals, and available dates.

Chesuncook Lake, West Branch of the Penobscot canoe trip

Chesuncook Lake, West Branch of the Penobscot canoe trip

Canoe Trip Schedule 2021 – Dates and Rates per Person

Maine River Guide Training – East Branch of the Penobscot River May 5-9 $775
East Branch of the Penobscot River through Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument May 10-14 $1,200
St John River May 16-22 $1,400
Allagash River May 24-29 $1,300
Aroostook River Fly Fishing June 9-13 $1,550
Upper Missouri River, MT June 18-27 $1,950
Loon Lodge Wildlife Watching – Cabin Based July 7-11 $975
Intro to White Water July 16-18 $350
Women’s Canoe & Yoga Weekend Aug 6-8 $450
Grand Lakes Region Women’s Canoe Trip and Native Plant Study July 19-23 $845
Wabanaki Thoreau Trail – West Branch of the Penobscot River July 31-Aug 4 $995
Canoeing with the Cree Aug 5-12 $2,670
Way of the Wabanaki Aug 26-29 $850
Way of the Wabanaki Sept 16-19 $850
Allagash River Sept 7-12 $1,300
Allagash River Sept 25-30 $1,300
Green River, UT Oct 2-12 $1,955

Allagash, Other Maine Canoe Trips, and Cultural Trips with Native Cree and Wabanaki 

Traveling by canoe is the most natural way to see the North Maine Woods and its wildlife. Our wilderness canoe trips provide instruction in traditional northern canoeing and camping techniques developed by the Wabanaki people and later by Maine guides. Using a setting pole for shallow river travel, paddling a canoe, and baking sourdough bread in a reflector oven are several examples of these native techniques, which are becoming lost with time.

We offer most of our wilderness canoe trips on the northern rivers of Maine. The Allagash River trips are the most popular, but we also guide the Penobscot, St. John, and Moose Rivers. By previous arrangement, we are also available to guide the Machias, St. Croix, Aroostook, and any other area you wish to explore.

In late summer, we migrate north to Quebec for our Canoeing with the Cree trip. This is a rich opportunity to travel with a Cree family, the Bosums, in their ancestral homeland they call “Chitchinnu,” meaning “our garden.”

We also offer canoeing and cultural experiences with the Penobscot natives to Sugar Island in the Penobscot River. This is a rare opportunity to learn about the Wabanaki people.

In addition, we offer shorter canoe trips, ranging from one to three days, into the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. Contact us about scheduling and available dates.

Allagash Falls, Allagash River

Allagash Falls, Allagash River

Allagash Canoe Trips

Before the Bugs – May 24-29, $1,300 per person
After the Bugs – September 7-12, $1,300 per person
Fall Foliage – September 25-30, $1,300 per person

Allagash River

Allagash River

The Allagash was our Nation’s first river to receive the “Wild and Scenic Rivers” designation. Understandably Maine’s most famous canoe trip, the Allagash is in many ways the most representative of its canoe country. It is rich in wildlife such as moose, otter, eagle and osprey and historic artifacts from the river logging era.

The rapids are beginner level, and the only portage is around the spectacular 50 ft. Allagash Falls. We choose to paddle the Allagash at times of the year that avoid the crowds and the bugs. We travel 4-5 hours by canoe each day, but there is usually ample time at camp for swimming, fishing, reading or just plain relaxing. Campsites are comfortable with outhouses, picnic tables and a stone fire pit.

Our standard Allagash trip is 6 days and we put in below Chase Rapids (class II) and we take out in Moosetown, otherwise known as Allagash Village.

Custom Allagash Canoe Trips

We can design a custom canoe trips on the Allagash that range from five to nine days. Popular options are:

  • Allagash Lake and Stream to Allagash Village – 9 days – $1,550 per person
  • Chamberlain Lake to Allagash Village – 9 days – $1,550 per person
  • Round Pond (Henderson Bridge) to Allagash Village – 5 days – $1,000 per person

If you want to fish on your own along the Allagash, late May through the first half of June is best fishing for native brookies. Add a day to the above itineraries to allow more time to fish.

Group at Allagash Falls

Group at Allagash Falls

Jamie, sled dog Bridget & Polly on the Allagash River

Jamie, sled dog Bridget & Polly on the Allagash River

Poling on the Allagash River

Poling on the Allagash River

Maine River Guide Training 

East Branch of the Penobscot River
Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument

May 5-9
$775 per person

The upper East Branch is the most spectacular wilderness river in the Northeast. The many falls and gorges are interspersed with majestic views of the mountains in Baxter State Park.

The East Branch is ideally suited for a guide training course. There are numerous Class II and III rapids and four portages. It is well worth the effort for the privilege of canoeing the East Branch.

This trip starts at the outlet of Lake Matagamon. The Maine River Guide Program is designed for those wishing to become registered guides in Maine and guides wanting more experience on technical rivers.

All aspects of canoeing and camping will be covered. Topics include poling, portaging, lining, campcraft, cooking and baking, fly fishing, setting up a warm and dry campsite, North Woods natural history, whitewater techniques, and river safety.

East Branch of the Penobscot River
Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument

May 10-14
$1,200 per person

Running through the middle of the newly created Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument, the East Branch of the Penobscot River is unmatched in Maine for its mountainous scenery and beautiful falls (locally called “pitches”). In the first 7 miles, there are more than a half dozen Class I, II, and III rapids (depending on water levels) and four “carries” (portages).

We begin our trip on Grand Lake Matagamon and allow extra time on the river to practice and review our whitewater maneuvers on the first four miles before the navigating Stair Falls, the first major rapid. We allow more days on the East Branch than most outfitters, because we want to take the time to ensure our guests have the skills to safely negotiate and enjoy running the rapids. Our takeout is at Whetstone Falls.

Some river experience is helpful, and you should be in good physical shape due to the portaging required.

CUSTOM EAST BRANCH TRIPS—For experienced river paddlers, we offer trips ranging from two to four days on various sections of the East Branch. Contact us for more information.

Click here for video.

Click here  for map.

East Branch of the Penobscot River with fall colors

East Branch of the Penobscot River with fall colors

Camp scene in the evening under the tarp!

Camp scene in the evening under the tarp!

Moose sighting on a canoe trip

Moose sighting on a canoe trip

St. John River

May 16-22
$1,400 per person

The Abenaki knew the St. John River as Wallastook, or “Beautiful River” – and it is! The largest of Maine’s rivers, the St. John is reminiscent of the great rivers of the Canadian North. From Baker Lake, the river begins as a small stream, gradually growing in size and power as it flows near the Canadian border.

The St. John is a great river to learn or refine river paddling techniques, because the rapids become successively more difficult as we voyage north to our takeout in Allagash Village.

The river winds through some of Maine’s wildest and most remote country, so it’s no wonder that the lynx chose this area to be their last home in the eastern lower 48 states. Other wildlife commonly seen on the St. John are bald eagles, river otters, beavers, and, of course, the majestic moose.

Aroostook River Fly Fishing

 June 9-13
$1,550 per person

Fly fishing on the Allagash River

Fly fishing on the Allagash River

The headwaters of the Aroostook River is an excellent native brook trout and landlocked salmon fishery. We spend five days slowly fishing our way down to the main confluence of the Aroostook. In June, water temperatures should provide plenty of action with frequent hatches.

Because we’re traveling by canoe, we can concentrate our fishing on the least accessible stretches of river. We are based out of two different cabins on the river to maximize our fishing time.

We start at Munsungan stream, with numerous small rips and pools, paddling and fishing our way down to the main branch of the Aroostook at the confluence of Millinocket stream.

The Aroostook has the perfect blend of small rips and pools that trout and salmon love. Don’t miss this opportunity to fly fish for native brookies in a remote, wild region of Maine.

Miramichi Atlantic Salmon Fishing

TBA – 2022

Fly fishing on the Miramichi River, New Brunswick

Fly fishing on the Miramichi River, New Brunswick

The Miramichi River is world renowned for its Atlantic salmon runs. This trip combines the best of wilderness canoeing and fly fishing for salmon. We spend four days fly fishing on the river. Daily paddling distances aren’t far, but you’ll see some spectacular and seldom visited country.

The camps are a mixture of some cabins and/or tents, depending on where we find the fish. The fishing methods are a combination of wade and canoe casting. (We use 20-foot guide canoes.)

Atlantic salmon are strictly catch and release, but we occasionally catch nice fat native bookies on salmon flies and have them for supper.

Legendary local guides, Kevin and Brett Silliker, guide this trip with us. We fish either the Little Southwest Branch or the Northwest Branch, depending on water levels and where the salmon are running. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fish for the king of all gamefish.

Miramichi River, New Brunswick

Miramichi River, New Brunswick

Rapid River

Call to Schedule

The Rapid River is nationally known among fly fishers for its native brook trout and landlocked salmon fishery. Our base camp is at the outlet of the Rapid River and consists of canvas tents heated with wood stoves. From there, we have easy access to three miles of the river up to Pond in the River.

We offer custom trips of the Rapid River that range from two to four days. A minimum party size of two is required with a maximum of four. Our recommended times are late May to the third week of June and the last week of September.

Way of the Wabanaki

August 26-29 and September 16-19
$850 per person

Polly, John, Jennifer, Jason at the wigwam, Sugar Island, Penobscot River

Polly, John, Jennifer, Jason at the wigwam, Sugar Island, Penobscot River

The Way of the Wabanaki is an immersion into the Penobscot First Nation’s culture. Jason Pardilla, a Native Penobscot, guides this trip with us.

We begin with a half-day paddle down the main branch of the Penobscot River to the Sugar Island cultural site. Then we spend two days on Sugar Island, where we learn about medicinal plants, Penobscot place names and the stories and meanings behind them, the history and culture of the Penobscots. We’ll also watch drumming and singing demonstrations. You can make your own basket, paddle in a birch bark canoe, and explore the surrounding islands. On our last day, we canoe to Indian Island, for a tour by James Francis, director of Cultural, History and Preservation, and visit the Penobscot Museum.

Penobscot Guide Chris

Penobscot Guide Chris

Lodge-Based Wildlife Watching at Loon Lodge

July 7 – 11
$975 per person

Wildlife viewing on Loon Lodge trip

Wildlife viewing on Loon Lodge trip

Loon Lodge, operated by Ray and Leslie Cooley, is located just 3 miles south of Allagash Lake. This area is rich in its diversity of North Woods wildlife. We explore some seldom visited areas by canoe, looking for moose, deer, otters, ospreys, and eagles. Each night, we return to the lodge for a delicious home-cooked meal. This trip combines the comfort and hospitality of a traditional Maine sporting camp with abundant wildlife viewing opportunities..

Meal at Loon Lodge

Meal at Loon Lodge

 Wabanaki-Thoreau Canoe Trail

West Branch of the Penobscot River/Chesuncook Lake 

 July 31 – August 4
$995 per person

Sunset on Lobster Lake

Sunset on Lobster Lake

This trip retraces part of Thoreau’s voyage through the Maine woods with his Penobscot guide, Joe Polis. This part of Thoreau’s route is an excellent wilderness trip for beginners through country rich in wildlife, logging history, and Native American history. There are no difficult rapids or portages on the entire trip. We also visit the historic Chesunook village, which Thoreau visited in 1850.

On most of our West Branch trips, we see moose, bald eagles, and occasionally black bears and river otters. Our comfortable campsites, located in the boreal forest along the river banks and lakeshore, have picnic tables, outhouses, and stone fire rings.

This is the most popular introduction to Maine canoe camping we offer and an excellent choice for families. We offer a 25% discount for children ages 13 and younger.

 Women’s Canoe Trips

Grand Lakes Region Women’s Canoe Trip and Native Plant Study

July 19-23
$845 per person

Penobscot Jennifer teaching about wild plants

Penobscot Jennifer teaching about wild plants

Polly co-guides this trip with Penobscot Jennifer Neptune of Indian Island, Maine. Jennifer has much knowledge of the native plants and their medicinal uses as people of her culture have been using them for 10,000 years. She’s a teacher about Penobscot culture, history and preservation, a master basket maker, and talented beader. She’s also a registered Maine guide. 

Some of the lakes we explore include the Sysladobsis, Pocumcus, West Grand, and Junior. We learn about the edible and medicinal uses of plants that grow in this area. Sandy beaches, interconnecting lakes, and the surrounding mountains make this area unique. Another added attraction after the canoe trip is a stay at a sporting camp and the Grand Lake Stream Festival, July 25-26, with crafts and music all weekend.

Women’s Canoe and Yoga Weekend at Umbagog Lake
(3 Days)

August 6-8
$450 per person

Yoga at camp before paddling

Yoga at camp before paddling

This is a unique paddling experience in one of Maine’s most beautiful lakes, where the surrounding mountains provide a spectacular panorama in every direction. We paddle down the Magalloway River to Umbagog Lake and to the mouth of the Rapid River, camp close to a bald eagle’s nest, and hike on a foot trail along the river. We finish the trip by paddling down the Androscoggin River to our take-out point north of Errol, New Hampshire. Sandee Conley be co-leads this trip with Polly and facilitates yoga exercises throughout the weekend.

 Canoeing with the Cree in Eeyoustis, Quebec

August 5-12
$2,670 per person

Diane with a beaver hide on a trip with the Cree

Diane with a beaver hide on a trip with the Cree

Quaking bogs, black spruce, woodland caribou, northern lights welcome us to the land of the Cree! This trip offers our guests a rare opportunity to travel with a Cree couple, David and Anna Bosum, through their ancestral homeland. David and Anna grew up in the bush living the traditional subsistence lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping. On this trip, you learn how to set fish nets, clean, cut and smoke fish as well as try some traditional crafts such as moccasin or paddle making. Much of our diet comes from the land or water, consisting of moose, goose, walleye and bear. We spend several days in the Cree Village of Ouje-Bougoumou learning more about the Cree language and culture. We also take a tour of the Cree Cultural Museum. You’ll learn traditional northwoods canoe traveling techniques with the people who developed them.

Introduction to Whitewater Canoeing

July 16-18
$350 per person

Intro to white water clinic

Intro to white water clinic

This course is designed for people with little or no whitewater canoeing experience. It’s also highly recommended for anyone who has no formal training in whitewater technique. The course covers canoe design and handling properties, whitewater strokes, whitewater equipment, safety, self-rescue, group management, throw bag use, river hazards, river reading and scouting, paddle signals, and maneuvers, including eddy turns, peel outs, ferries, side slips, and surfing. The price includes lodging, meals, and paddling equipment. Please arrive by 7 p.m. Friday.

Kevin teaching about river travel by canoe

Kevin teaching about river travel by canoe

Western River Canoe Trips

Upper Missouri River Canoe Trip in Montana

June 18-27
$1950 per person

Upper Missouri River, Montana

Upper Missouri River, Montana

Abandoned homestead Upper Missouri River, Montana

Abandoned homestead Upper Missouri River, Montana

The Upper Missouri in north central Montana is designated as part of the National Wild and Scenic River System of America. The river has a constantly flowing current which makes for a leisurely paddle in some of the west’s most spectacular country. The wide valley gives a spacious feeling in this big sky country. The unique rock formations of the White Cliff area, home of the bighorn sheep, antelope, white tail and mule deer, white pelican and the rich history of Sacajewa, a Shosone guide for Lewis and Clark, are some of the draws to this country and this river trip.

  Green River in Utah 

 October 2 – 12
$1955 per person

Jenny & Donna Green River, Utah

Jenny & Donna Green River, Utah

Green River, Utah

Green River, Utah

This is a spectacular paddle through Utah’s famous Canyonlands country. We cover 56 river miles starting from Mineral Bottom and passing through Stillwater Canyon to the confluence of the Colorado River. From there, we travel upstream back to Moab. This is a flat water river in a very remote part of the southwest. In October, these high desert plains offer warm days, cool nights, and few tourists. We take hikes in the side canyons of the Canyonlands and explores petroglyphs.

Children ages 13 and younger receive a 25% discount on all trips.

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