Re: Need advice for a 4-night trip in Maine or NH
From somewhere on Flagstaff Lake to Jackman would give you remoteness, trout, and lack of civilization, but it involves a long haul upstream, and a very long portage on logging roads. I’ve not paddled that stretch (yet). By reputation it is the most difficult and remote section of the NFCT, and the shuttle is not a short one. Another choice would be 4 days touring Flagstaff Lake, with a paddle down to the Grand Falls and back as a side trip.
Another option would be South Arm to Rangeley on the Rangeley-Richardson lakes. This route has one shorter portage and one longer one. There are some camps and houses and a town along the route, but mostly they are clustered on Rangeley lake and near Oquossoc. I’d think you could find some pretty good lake fishing. The Richardson Lakes and Mooselookmeguntic do not have much development – they are quite wild and lovely, in fact!
You could continue from near Jackman down the Moose River towards Moosehead Lake, taking out near Rockwood. I’ve not paddled that either, and I can’t speak for how built up the shorelines may or may not be.
A trip from Roll Dam or Lobster Lake, down the W Branch of the Penobscot might meet nearly all your criteria. Take out at Ripogenus Lake? That’s off the trail, at the S end of Chesuncook. Kate Williams has a trip report for that trip on the NFCT blog page: http://blog.northernforestcanoetrail.org/2011/09/05/family-paddling-on-the-west-branch-of-the-penobscot/
From Burlington you could also consider a trip up to La Verendrye Wildlife Preserve, north of Montreal. That area has many options for loop canoe trips. I’ve been there once, paddling Circuit 77 with one of my kids. I’d think you could chose a trip up there that would meet your needs quite nicely, but it is a little bit more of a drive than getting to Jackman. http://www.canot-camping.ca/english/index.asp?id=117
I pack headnets and bug shirts for trips in late May. I’d think you could be seeing black flies by then.
Have fun! – kalmia