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Northern Forest Canoe Trail


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P.O. Box 565
Waitsfield, VT 05673

Phone 802-496-2285
Fax 802-329-2239

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The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) links the waterways of New York, Vermont, Québec, New Hampshire and Maine.

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NFCT offers maps, books, and web-based tools to help you connect to our 740-mile paddling route that traces a fascinating history from early Native Americans through European settlers. NFCT also introduces you to the places and people that make waterway destinations along our route in the Adirondacks and Northern New England inviting and exciting today.

The route's variety of flat water, swift water, and whitewater, on a range of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds provide extensive opportunities for canoe and kayak recreation. Vibrant communities along the way offer inns, B&Bs and camping facilities, as well as other recreational and heritage attractions.

Watch Clean Drain Dry for Paddlers for simple steps to take to help protect water quality.

Come paddle with us...for an afternoon, a vacation, or a lifetime!

 


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Section 1:

Fulton Chain of Lakes to Long Lake

From its western terminus at Old Forge, New York, the Trail begins its journey along the Fulton Chain of Lakes, following the historic path of Iroquois trappers in birch bark canoes, traditional log drives down the Raquette River, Adirondack guides leading city “sports” across the wide stretches of Raquette Lake and early steamboats navigating to lodges on the shores of Long Lake.
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Section 2:

Long Lake to Saranac River

This section of the trail begins in historic Long Lake, New York, where Adirondack wilderness guides once battled the damming of the waterways with explosives and the nighttime sinking of a steamship. Following the route of early loggers and hunters, the Trail winds along rivers, through a unique silver maple swamp, and across open lakes, where century-old, hand-operated locks still convey paddlers between waterways.
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Section 3:

Saranac River to Lake Champlain

This section is characterized by varied river travel (often challenging), passing through some ponds on the upper stretch and dropping through rapids to the Lake. The flora and fauna change as the elevation drops and the landscape changes. The river was used for travel and fishing by Mohawk, Abenaki and Algonquin before arrival of European settlers, and then industrial uses came in: remains of dams, a sawmill, an iron forge give evidence of this past.
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Section 4:

Lake Champlain and Missisquoi River

The Missisquoi River from Enosburg Falls to Swanton is wide and sometimes slow, sometimes swift. Rapids are intermittent and range in difficulty depending on the water level, but at most water levels are Class I-II. Below Swanton, the river is slow through the forests and swamps of the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge. Lake Champlain can be placid or wavy depending on the weather, and the conditions can change very quickly. Lake Champlain paddling is recommended for experienced paddlers, and is best traveled in kayaks.
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Section 5:

Missisquoi River to Lake Memphremagog

This section of Trail includes the Missisquoi River, the North Branch of the Missisquoi, and the Grand Portage between Lake Memphremagog and the Missisquoi watershed. These waterways and the Grand Portage were historically used by the Abenaki, as well as later by European explorers and settlers traveling between Québec City and the New England settlements. This section is characterized by rolling hills, dairy farms and forests with a history of logging.
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Section 6:

Lake Memphremagog to Connecticut River

This section crosses Lake Memphremagog (beginning in Québec) and follows the Clyde and Nulhegan Rivers to the Connecticut River. The Northeast Kingdom is a high, cold, corner of Vermont whose granite hills remain sparsely settled. The Clyde River wetlands support rare natural communities, where paddlers might hear the courtship calls of pied-billed grebes or catch glimpses of northern harriers among the sedge and bog willow. Vermont's most wild river, the Nulhegan River drops through a basin of thick forests and boreal wetlands (home to Vermont’s largest population of moose and largest deeryard) and protected through the Nulhegan Basin Division of the Silvio O.Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
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Section 7:

Connecticut River to Umbagog Lake

This section travels three rivers: the Connecticut, the Upper Ammonoosuc and Androscoggin. The route passes through the Great North Woods on the northern edge of the highest mountains in the northeast — the Presidential Range of the White Mountains. Birding and wildlife opportunities abound, and the section ends at the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. All of the Great North Woods remains sparsely settled and logging is still the primary economy.
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Section 8:

Umbagog Lake to Rangeley Lake

Traditionally traveled from east to west. This section is characterized by a connected series of large lakes (Rangeley, Mooselookmeguntic, the Richardsons, and Umbagog) and lots of undeveloped, conserved land and sensitive wildlife habitat. The section includes the 4,100 acre Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge on the NH/Maine border, a renowned birdwatching area with bald eagles, loons, peregrine falcons, and ospreys. The Rangeley area has a history of logging and sport guiding, and has been popular for fishing since the mid-1800s.
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Section 9:

Rangeley Lake to Spencer Stream

The shallow waters of Flagstaff Lake cover three frontier communities that were flooded in Maine’s quest for reliable water flow to generate electricity for the state. The Bigelow Preserve borders the lake, its 36,000 acres of undeveloped, protected ridgeline towering over the southern side of the lake. The Appalachian Trail crosses the top. Grand Falls is a spectacular area attraction, with 30-foot falls on Dead River.
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Section 10:

Spencer Stream to Moosehead Lake

This section includes the Spencer Stream watershed and the Moose River through its outlet in Moosehead Lake. A segment of the Moose River and Attean Pond are part of historic “Moose River Bow Trip” in which paddlers travel in a circle and end where they started, without having backtracked. The communities of Jackman and Rockwood have long relied on logging and outdoor recreation for their livelihood, and both towns are becoming known as great 4-season recreation towns surrounded by woods, water and wilderness.
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Section 11:

Moosehead Lake to Umbazooksus Stream

This section is characterized by dramatic features and a rich history. Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in Maine, boasting the striking Mt. Kineo. Thoreau traveled this section of the NFCT, writing of his trip in the posthumously published "The Maine Woods". The historic Katahdin steamship was used for logging until the 1970's and today provides summer cruises. The Northeast Carry was used for centuries by Abenaki and early white settlers to access the West Branch Penobscot River. In the historic Chesuncook Village on Chesuncook Lake – accessible only by boat or float plane – paddlers will find amenities to ease their trip through the wilderness.
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Section 12:

Umbazooksus Stream to Umsaskis Lake

Paddlers today following this most remote section of the Trail will experience the vast stretches of forested shoreline that sustained the Abenaki for centuries, the interconnected waters that inspired Thoreau, and rusting relics from the days of log drives. This state-managed Wild and Scenic corridor known as the Allagash Wilderness Waterway offers large and small lakes, swiftly flowing river, and unparalleled wildlife-watching opportunities.
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Section 13:

Umsaskis Lake to St. John River

This eastern-most section of the Trail winds along the remote Allagash, the nation’s first Wild and Scenic River, and finishes on the historic St. John River, which outlines the international border. The route leads paddlers through waters first paddled by Abenaki hunters in birchbark canoes, past early European settlements in this remote land, and along shorelines that hold the ghost stories and rusting relics of logging days, as well as both the peace and adventure of the remote north country.
businesses and services along the northern forest canoe trail


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