5 Fall Foliage Paddling Trips

Enjoy spectacular colors during the fall on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a great place to be for fall paddling, when you can view the changing autumn leaves. From canoe, kayak or SUP, you get a perspective unlike any other.

We suggest you spend a few hours this fall paddling into the surrounding reds, oranges, and yellows, listening to crickets, falling leaves and migrating geese, and breathing in the earthy scent that comes only with autumn.

To help you plan, we asked our staff to share their recommended places to paddle in October on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. We also list links to fall foliage maps for each trail state at the end.

Androscoggin River: 13 Mile Woods to Pontook Reservoir
Phoebe Backler, New Hampshire Outreach Coordinator

“The Andro is just stunning right now. I can’t imagine a better place for a day paddle, and with the water being so low on our lakes and rivers, it is probably the best bet for the New Hampshire section. For those looking for flat water, Pontook Reservoir is always a good choice for a half day paddle. Bring a camera for the foliage and occasional eagle.” NFCT Map 7, Great North Woods, New Hampshire.

Connecticut River from the Bloomfield Access to Maidstone Bridge
Walter Opuszynski, Trail Director

“This is a beautiful fall foliage trip. The Connecticut River has very reliable water through this meandering 10-mile stretch. The parking is convenient at both the put-in and take-out and the distance is perfect for a day paddle. The river through this stretch is tame, allowing you to be “wowed” by the beautiful views of Percy Peak and the other mountains that make up the spine of the Coos Trail to the east. There is even the opportunity to take a snack break at NFCT’s Maine Central Railroad Trestle Campsite.” NFCT Map 7, Great North Woods, New Hampshire.

Dead River and Moose River
Jeff McCabe, Maine Outreach Coordinator

“As a raft guide I always enjoy the last trip with a overnight stay below Grand Falls at the confluence of Spencer Stream followed by a trip down the Dead River. When it comes to being in a canoe and catching fall foliage, I suggest heading to the Jackman/Rockwood Region. Any trip that includes breathtaking views on the way into and out of a destination is an added bonus. Paddling along the Moose River coming across to the open water with a chill in the air is well worth it. The region has views of mountains like no other.” NFCT Map 10, Greater Jackman Region, Maine.

Missisquoi River from Highgate to Swanton
Noah Pollock, Vermont Outreach Coordinator

“A Vermont fall foliage recommendation would be on the Missisquoi from below Highgate Falls to Swanton, an easy 1.5 hour, 4 mile trip. The river here is flatwater and lined with maples that turn vibrant red and orange. Watch for migrating waterfowl passing overhead as they journey down the Lake Champlain flyway.” NFCT Map 4, Islands and Farms Region, Vermont.


Raquette River from Axton Landing
Mike Lynch, New York Outreach Coordinator

“The Raquette River in the Adirondack Park is a great destination for a fall paddling trip. A good place to access the waterway is from Axton Landing in Coreys. From this put-in, paddlers can head upstream to Raquette Falls or go downstream toward Tupper Lake. These sections of river are lined with maple trees that turn brilliant reds in autumn.” NFCT Map 2, Adirondack North Country (Central), New York.

To find out more information about these trips, visit our trip planner.

For a weekly update of where colors are peaking in the Northeast, visit these fall foliage tracker sites:

Maine Foliage Conditions
New Hampshire Foliage Tracker
New York Fall Foliage Report
Vermont Fall Foliage Report
New England Today Fall Foliage Map

Finally, we would love to see and share your images of canoeing and kayaking on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Email your favorite fall foliage paddling photo to Mike Lynch at [email protected].