Meet Phoebe Backler, Northern Forest Canoe Trail’s New Hampshire Outreach Coordinator

Phoebe Backler began her tenure with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail during the spring of 2008. She has nurtured partnerships in northern New Hampshire that has led to creating paddling trip itineraries and vacation packages along the trail, as well as improving collaborative efforts to promote outdoor recreation in Coös County. She is NFCT’s representative on the Androscoggin River Committee that formalized a “River Code” in 2014. Phoebe can be reached about the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in New Hampshire at [email protected] or 603-449-2581.

Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Waterville, Maine and now live in Milan, New Hampshire.

Phoebe on a river clean-up trip in northern New Hampshire.
Phoebe on a river clean-up trip in northern New Hampshire.

Earliest memory of paddling:
I spent my early childhood on our family farm in Belgrade, Maine on Belgrade Stream. I have early memories of fishing on the stream and in Long Pond by boat. I have a photograph of my father paddling our old wood and canvas canoe on the stream while I played in the shallows (age 2) in my skivvies.

Most memorable paddling experience:
My husband and I took our sons, Abe and Silas, on a trip on the Allagash River in 2013. We swam, fished, caught frogs and skipped rocks throughout the trip, but my favorite memory was paddling through a downpour while our boys, snug in their raingear, slept and watched the raindrops bounce from the lake’s surface.

Favorite place to paddle:
We are returning to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota for a voyage in the summer of 2016. My husband and I met on those lakes, and we are pretty enthused to be able to introduce our boys (now including Henry, age 1½) to them.

Favorite place on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail:
I love paddling on our local rivers threading across New Hampshire like the Connecticut, Upper Ammonoosuc and Androscoggin. Though the remoteness and beauty of the West Branch of the Penobscot into the Allagash Wilderness Waterway have a powerful hold over me…might be time to get those maps back out.

Go-to food, drink or item to bring on a paddling trip:
Chocolate in most forms. That said, it is hard to beat a fresh Walleye fillet any time of day.

Aspirations for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in New Hampshire:OverviewNH~2
I am working with an excellent group of people that make up the Androscoggin River Committee. Currently, we are developing plans to nominate the Androscoggin River to the New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Program. If successful, this nomination will lead to the creation of an advisory committee of local landowners, business owners and other stakeholders. The committee will partner with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Sciences to review permit applications for projects that would impact the Androscoggin River. I am hopeful that we will be successful in this effort and love that my work with NFCT allows me to engage in a broad spectrum of efforts from this project to getting local kids out on the same river through the Northern Forest Explorers program.

Upcoming NFCT events you are most excited about:
NFCT is partnering with several local organizations and businesses to help pull together the 6th Annual Nansen Milan Winter Festival this January 22–24. This year, the festival will include cross country ski races, a 100-mile sled dog race and a superb film presented by Zip Kellogg about the 1940 National Whitewater Championships during which paddlers raced down Maine’s Rapid River in open boats. See a weekend schedule for the festival at

On July 9, NFCT will partner with the Androscoggin Watershed Council to offer an Intro to Whitewater Paddling Clinic on the Androscoggin River.

Anything else you want to add?
We will be updating our paddler itineraries for the New Hampshire section of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail this winter. They are a helpful resource for those looking to plan a paddling trip in the area. Check back soon!


The Northern Forest Canoe Trail outreach coordinator positions are funded this year in part thanks to the Betterment Fund, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Ferguson Foundation, H. King and Jean Cummings Charitable Fund, Horizon Foundation, LL Bean and Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

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