The Exhaust-Free, Self-Propelled Foliage Tour

Maine: Paddling the St. Croix River

Sep 18, 2001
Outside Magazine

Flowing along Maine's eastern border with New Brunswick, the 37-mile stretch of the St. Croix between Vanceboro and Grand Falls is the state's least famous, least crowded, and best multiday fall river trip. Most of this section is banked by boreal forest, but there are also regularly spaced pockets of meadows bordered by flaming orange, yellow, and scarlet hardwoods, ideal for riverside overnights.

A good weeklong trip begins near Forest City with two days of warm-up flatwater paddling, island camping, and fishing (the uniquely colored northern smallmouth bass are the elite of their species) on the Chiputneticook Lakes. Then comes a four-day paddle on the St. Croix, an ideal beginner's river with enough rips and rocks—as well as one challenging Class II+ drop, Little Falls—to keep the adrenaline flowing. For a more serene St. Croix experience, make sure to stop at Porter's Meadow, one of the best areas on the river for viewing nesting bald eagles.
If you're a do-it-yourselfer, pick up a copy of the New England White Water River Guide ($15, from AMC Books, 800-262-4455); be aware, however, that you'll need to bring your own boat—the closest rentals are nearly two hours south of Forest City. Consider also Martin Brown's Sunrise County Canoe Expeditions, which has operated on the St. Croix for more than 20 years. On its guided outings you sleep in platform tents, average ten miles per day, camp on both the Canadian and American sides of the river, learn traditional Down East whitewater techniques, and are among the first Americans to see the sun rise each morning. The six-day trip costs $679; call 800-748-3730.

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