The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is the product of a great collaboration with communities across the region to create an exceptional paddling trail. This year, as we celebrate the trail’s 20th anniversary, the big idea that inspired our founders to establish a route connecting the landscapes and communities of the Northern Forest through waterways and history is still alive and has become part of its fabric.
Today, the NFCT still maintains and promotes the 740-mile water trail that runs from Old Forge, New York, to Fort Kent, Maine, and connects New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine. The trail showcases the mix of landscapes and communities currently lining the traditional routes used by indigenous peoples, settlers, and guides. It is the longest in-land water trail in the nation and consists of 23 rivers and streams, 59 lakes and ponds, 45 communities, and 65 portages.
Our strength still comes from people and partnerships: our team — board members, staffers, volunteers, business, governmental and nonprofit partners — invests in new improvements to the trail each year and promotes its virtues to people from all walks of life. We enable adventures by providing regularly updated trail maps and have begun developing recommended trips on adjacent waterways as well. We also work with partners to host events with a particular focus on helping people find community on the water.
While anniversaries are a great time to reflect on the past, they also provide an opportunity to look to the future. I was drawn to the trail as an adventurer. I was intrigued by the idea of linking the waterways of the Northeast from one end to the other. In discovering the NFCT, I want to explore more watersheds and communities. I have met so many of the people who launched our trail into being in 2000, and I am excited to help others in our region learn from what the NFCT has become.
As 2019 came to a close, our board and staff gathered input from stakeholders across four states and one province to develop a plan that will maintain and enhance the canoe trail for the next 20 years. We will continue to focus on stewardship and promotion. We plan to do even more to foster a stewardship ethic among paddlers, improve accessibility and promote the canoe trail as an economic, environmental and social asset. We will continue to include all our partners and paddlers in making the NFCT an exceptional experience and a contributing member of the region and the outdoor recreation community.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail belongs to all of us — from adventure paddlers and weekend warriors to first-timers, anglers and anyone who simply likes to take a moment and appreciate our waterways and natural places.
As 2020 gets underway, we plan to be in communities all along the 740-mile route. We want to hear from you — your stories, your suggestions, your criticisms. Visit our website to learn more: www.northernforestcanoetrail.org.
See you on the water.