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February 22, 2014 at 12:41 am #136cfrey.0Member
Hello everyone. New forum member here. My name is Chris.
Every year I plan a trip with my fiance and her three city-dwelling younger brothers (ages 8, 16 and 20) to give them a taste of the outdoors … basically I am incubating a brood of future hiking partners. LOL. We have between 6 and 8 days in August or September of this year and I am really interested in sections 12 or 13, but I have read on this forum that the water levels can become a problem later in the season.
I have and am in the process of reading through the NFCT maps and the guide book, but I was looking for some firsthand advice on these sections at this general time of year. With kids, particularly the eight-year old, I want to try and avoid long hard portages or rigorous upstream paddling/hauling … or any other trials I might not be considering.
I would also love any advice on renting paddling gear (touring kayaks, etc) and arranging “drop-offs” and “pick-ups” in this area. I have started to scout the list of outfitters provided on the NFCT site, but first-hand experience is always appreciated.
Thanks for any information!
-ChrisFebruary 22, 2014 at 3:17 pm #318cfrey.0Member
Oh, I should probably note that we don’t need access to any resupply points during our trip. We are comfortable being unsupported for this duration and would prefer a “remote” experience.February 24, 2014 at 7:19 pm #316KalmiaMember
Chris Welcome! I’ll take a stab at some of your questions. I live over in Vermont and I’ve paddled the Allagash only twice, so I am not an expert on that section. Paddling the Allagash Waterway from the Chamberlain Bridge Ranger Station down to either Michaud Farm or Allagash Village would be a very doable 6-8 day family trip and would take you through most of map sections 12 and 13. Chamberlain Bridge is the beginning of the classic Allagash trip. Although it is possible to begin a trip a little earlier on Map 12, on Umbazooksus Stream, doing so then commits you to an upstream paddle ( a potential slog at some water levels), and then the 2 mile portage across the storied, famous or infamous Mud Pond Carry. Marital engagements have broken up over lesser obstacles.
Most paddlers find it is worthwhile to pay for a shuttle driver rather than set your own shuttle on this trip.
This is a remote trip, for sure! And it feels remote. It has been claimed it is the longest roadless river trip in the eastern United States, although in fact there are a couple of privately owned logging road bridges along the way. There are also a few historic remains from the logging era along the shores, and a small reconstructed dam on Churchill Lake. There is a lot in print about the Allagash, and some of that information would add interest to the trip for the kids, I bet, and the chance to visit the abandoned locomotives and other logging gear at the tramway carry and elsewhere on the trip.
Camping is first-come first-served in numbered campsites, each of which has a picnic table and fire pit, and usually a tarp pole over the table.
The headwater lakes at the beginning of the trip can be windy, so it is a good idea to be prepared to start early in the day, and build in a layover day if you become windbound.
The Allagash River can get bony but people do paddle it through the summer. Perhaps others can chime in here. I think low water levels are most difficult for those in ultra-light boats, and those who pack two coolers and the kitchen sink (not always easy to avoid with kids and family trips, I know!). I’ve never heard of the river being impassable to those who are willing to hop out and wade, but I really would advise spreading out the gear among the boats, and packing as lightly as you reasonably can.
I do not know who rents canoes or kayaks in the area. Let us know what you find!
My two trips were late May to early June (many bugs, many moose), and late September to early October (no bugs, no moose). For sure we were hopping out of the canoes during the September trip on the rockier sections below Long Lake until we got a night of torrential rain, and the waters came right up…
If you can make the time for the trip after Labor Day there will be very few other paddlers out there. Any time of year there is great remote scenery, botany and wildlife, wild shorelines and clean water. – kFebruary 24, 2014 at 9:08 pm #315Chris GillMember
Kalmia is accurate in everything he says, you might consider starting at Indian Stream put-in to avoid the potential headwinds on Chamberlain Lake. I did the whole trip in 5 days with my 10 year old son and we didn’t rush. When we did the trip the water was low enough so we had to drag a bit, we also had frost in mid June. You will definately need a day to drive each way if you live anywhere south of central Maine. Allagash Village is WAY up there, about 8 hours from Boston.
It will certainly help if both you and your fiance are experienced enough to steer the canoes in windy conditions. There are no long hard portages and I’ve found that it’s nice to be able to get out of the canoe and walk on the two short carries you’ll have to do. The NFCT will be able to get you the names of outfitters that will rent you gear and shuttle your cars for you. If you plan on leaving a car at the start it should be a reasonably rugged vehicle.
There’s a lot to think about for this trip but it’s well worth it. Gil Gilpatrick has a book that gives a pretty good overview of the trip. http://gilgilpatrick.com/self-guide.html Gilpatrick is a guide that leans towards a very luxurious trip so take that with a grain of salt.
Please follow up with any questions.March 3, 2014 at 11:40 pm #317sweeperMember
From Chamberlain Bridge you would have 2 or 3 short carries, Indian Stream 1 or 2. At Churchill Dam you have the option of carrying across the road or having the Rangers carry your gear by truck to Bissonette Bridge so you can run Chase rapids empty. The carry around the falls is about a 1/3 of a mile.
Use have used Pelletier’s Campground for our rentals and our shuttle service. We have had no problems with the service for the 8 years we’ve been paddling up there. He HAD kayaks to rent.
Here’s a link to the water gauge, you need +600 cfm http://waterdata.usgs.gov/me/nwis/uv/?site_no=01011000&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060
For sites to stay at Chisholm Brk on Umsaskis and Inlet or Back Channel down on Round are great for moose watching in the back waters.
A carry that can and should be avoided is at Long Lake Dam. We ‘Line’ the canoes over it on the left side of the river.
We paddle the Allagash heavy also, each site is set up for a group as big as 12 and has a fire pit and a table with a ridge pole over both so bring a nice size tarp. We use a 14 x 20 but that took us a few years to get to that size. 12 x 14ish should work w/poles.
Gil Gilpatrick’s guide is great addition to the trip. There is lots of information about the area in it and I highly recommend the Garlic Clam Linguine.
Any other help you need let me know.
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