Paddle Maine's Allagash River

Mar 16, 2009
Outside Magazine
Pro Tip: Julie Angus

Bring your pantyhose. Nylons can be used as a tourniquet, carrying bag, or strapping—and, of course, for Friday-night parties

Allagash River

Paddle Maine's Allagash River
DURATION: 10 days
THE PLAN: Round up a few good buddies and float 93 miles along the white-spruce-lined shores of Maine's Allagash Wilderness Waterway. The river is less a single torrent than a series of interconnected lakes and sloughs, so go slow and quote Thoreau—every story about this river does. Pick designated campsites about ten miles apart. Be sure to stay on Pillsbury Island and explore the—here it comes—"exceedingly wild and desolate" old-growth forest nearby, where Thoreau camped in 1857. The best Class II+ whitewater comes directly below Churchill Dam; less experienced paddlers can pay $10 for the park rangers to shuttle gear around the rapids. About 12 miles from the end, there's 40-foot Allagash Falls, with a 150-yard portage. In St. Francis, hire Norm L'Italien (207-834-6118) to run your shuttle. His drivers know the roads (and the stories), and Norm rents gear and canoes as well.

ESSENTIALS: Copy of Thoreau's The Maine Woods; Maps 12 and 13 of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail ($10 each;

PREREQUISITES: Class II canoe skills, camping experience.

WHEN TO GO: Early September, when it's still warm and the river is almost empty.

Filed To: Maine, Paddling

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