End to End
Thru-paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a challenging endeavor that requires considerable preparation beforehand and perseverance during the journey. It involves crossing large lakes, paddling upstream, and portaging for long distances. The trip is not for everyone, but for those dedicated enough to take on the challenge, it’s an adventure that will provide inspiration and memories for a lifetime. Thru-paddlers experience innumerable scenic vistas, private encounters with wildlife, and remote communities where people are down-to-earth and friendly. The beauty of the north country, friendly encounters with locals and exceptional paddling combine with moments of intense challenge. Upon completion you will discover that you can ask more than you believed you could of yourself, and can find joy, warmth and welcome in unexpected places.
If you don’t have the time, capacity or desire to take on a thru-paddle, you can still experience the Northern Forest Canoe Trail one section at a time. One of the main benefits of section-paddling the route is that you are able to paddle downstream on all the rivers. Some people section paddle all in one season or do it over decades. Take your time, enjoy the ride and do it your way.
IMPORTANT TRAIL UPDATE FOR 2018 THRU-PADDLERS CROSSING THE BORDER INTO CANADIAN. PLEASE TAKE NOTE THAT THE BORDER STATION NEAR RICHFORD IS SCHEDULED TO BE CLOSED THIS SUMMER, STARTING IN LATE MAY. CHECK OUT THIS MAP OF THE Richford Reroute FOR MORE DETAILS. STEWARDSHIP DIRECTOR NOAH POLLOCK ALSO WROTE A BLOG ABOUT THE TOPIC.
- Northern Forest Canoe Trail Official Guidebook
- Northern Forest Canoe Trail Thru-Paddler’s Companion by Katina Daanen
- Paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail: A Journey through New England History by Sam Brakeley
- Planning and Packing for a Thru-Paddle by Katina Daanen
- When is the Best Time to Start a Thru-Paddle by Trail Director Walter Opuszynski
- Planning a Thru-Paddle? By Sandy Tarburton
- Section Paddling the NFCT by Russ Ford
- Crossing Lake Champlain by Peter McFarlane
- Overview of upper Saranac River whitewater by Tyler Merriam
Thru-paddlers and section-paddlers have some great stories and inspiring tales to share. Link to their blogs here, and send us your blog as you start logging your journeys on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
Collin Blunk is half of “The Wild Outsiders” duo. His partner Liz Furmanski joined him for the first section of the NFCT and know Collin is paddling on kayaking solo. Read his updates at Life on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
The Read Family has done a big water crossing before, namely the Atlantic Ocean on their sail boat Edelweiss in 2013. This year they used a much smaller boat to thru-paddle the NFCT. Read about them at The Read Family Adventures.
Once wasn’t enough for Mack Truax. Mack returned to repeat his thru-paddle. He also broke the record for fastest time completing the trail in 21 days. Read his updates at Mack Truax’s 2016 Northern Forest Canoe Trail Journal and watch Mack’s 2016 NFCT Movie.
John Connelly completed the NFCT…and kept going. PaddleQuest 1500 included our trail, the St. John River through New Brunswick, and the Maine coast to Kittery, Maine. Read his adventures at www.paddlequest1500.com and watch a news interview here.
Gabrielle Mutel and Bryce Bognet decided to make their through paddle a family affair. Their 3-year old son is the youngest tot to have been paddled and portaged the entire trail! Relive their pace at Northern Forest Canoe Trail – A Family Adventure.
One dream sometimes leads to another. In 2011, Laurie Chandler kayaked the NFCT in Maine and raised $10,600 for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program (see Paddle for Hope). During the summer of 2015, with escaped convicts on the loose in northern New York, she through paddled in a new 13-foot Wenonah Fusion Kevlar canoe. Laurie shares her adventures at lauriesadventures.wordpress.com.
Mack Truax from Michigan, recently retired and ready for an adventure, through paddled starting in May 2015. Read his story at 2015 Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
Geoff and Valerie Welch-Westerman traveled from The Netherlands and through paddled in a Penobscot canoe. Valerie won her PFD in the previous year’s Northern Forest Canoe Trail auction! Read their blog Journal of the Floating Dutchman.
Eric McIntyre through paddled the NFCT in 38 days in May and June and celebrated his 21st birthday while paddling. Read his story and see a short interview coutesy of the Bangor Daily News.
Father-son team Tim and Ben Hille started through paddling begining of June. The duo has participated in multiple Northern Forest Canoe Trail Waterway Work Trips, creating campsites and doing trail work projects. This summer they get to revisit their handiwork…by canoe! Mid-trip, the Hille’s unfortunately wrapped their canoe on the Saranac River, but the team re-outfitted and got back on the Trail in Maine. Read about their trials and triumphs at NFCT Hille Through Paddle 2014.
For a late season Through Paddle (and hot off the Appalachian Trail) follow the adventures of the Wise Owl and Jitu.
Brian Quarrier and Allie Miller have built their canoe, paddles and pole in anticipation for their upcoing through paddle. Follow their blog at allieandbriancanoe.blogspot.com.
Peter Macfarlane of Otter Creek Smallcraft completed his through paddle this spring in his custom-built cedar strip canoe. Started May 19 and ended June 15. Follow his trip planning on his blog Peter Macfarlane’s Solo Through-Paddle of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. See Peter’s talk 1 Man, 1 Canoe, 750 Miles at Isley Public Library in Middlebery, Vt. on 12/10/13.
Emily, Erik, and Elspeth find that three is the magic number and that an extra person sure does help on those long portages! Follow their adventure across the NFCT in pictures.
Mark Fromm completed the NFCT in 39 days. Visit Mark and Pat’s Adventures for his trip stats and blog posts.
Mike Messink and pal got 14 days into their through paddle when a collision with a rock cracked a kayak. They’ve posted a fantastic video of images from their journey – including snow! – at Two Weeks on the NFCT.
Harry and Emily will begin their through paddle later this summer. Follow their planning and trip reports at Crew of Two.
Joe Peterlin’s blog shares his solo Through Paddle attempt this spring. Good lessons to be learned about his struggles with portage wheels.
Former NFCT intern Ben Malakoff and his brother Liam are paddling the Trail’s 350 miles in Maine to raise awareness for Nature Deficit Disorder and raise $10,000 for the Northern Forest Explorers. To learn more about their expedition and to make a pledge go to Canoe for the Kids 2012.
Team Collett: The father and son team of Russ and Jeremy Collett successfully through paddled the 740 mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail this Summer. Follow their adventure (which began on Saturday, June 25th) on their Team Collett Blog.
Mike Lynch is thru paddling to make a documentary about the the Northern Forest Canoe Trail! He was joined by Jacob Resneck and Ariel Diggory Lynch for parts of the etrip. See Mike’s photos and articles on his website.
Katina Daanen first heard about NFCT in March 2010 at Rutabaga’s Canoecopia, in Madison, Wisconsin. She’s gearing up for her through paddle this summer, and you can watch her pack on her blog kdaanen-nfct.
Team Moxie began their through paddle on Memorial Day. Moxie is a 4 lb Yorkshire terrier with more canoe experience than most humans. Read Moxie’s Great Adventures blog.
The Rough Water Gypsies are on the NFCT this May and June. Four college friends with titles Navigator & Chandler/”Sue”-Chef, Head Scribe & Medical Officer, Expedition Therapist & System’s Dialer, and Chief Petty Officer & Admiral of Woodsmenship. Follow them on the Rough Water Gypsies blog.
Laurie Chandler will paddle the 350-mile Maine Section of NFCT this summer and raise $10,000 and awareness for childhood cancer in Maine. Follow her story on her blog Paddle for Hope.
Team Black Cat paddled the NFCT this spring. They left Old Forge, NY at 3:30 pm on April 29th and arrived in Fort Kent, ME at 10:30 am on May 22. But their trip is far from over. Next: a paddle on the St. John River and hike on the Appalachian Trail north to south. Follow the journey on their Trail Journals blog.
Cathy Mumford celebrated her 50th birthday while through paddling NFCT. Her blog One Woman’s Solo Kayak Adventure shares her journey on becoming the first woman kayaker to solo through paddle the 740-mile Trail.
Ryan and Catherine Thompson (Hit and Miss) completed the NFCT and the AT in 2010. Read their adventures by checking out their Blog!
Section Paddler, Chuck Horbert has developed a blog called Canoe Tales. Join him as he chronicles his adventures across the NFCT!
Brian and Whitny (aka Ahab and Starbuck) completed the NFCT end of June 2010. Check out Ahab and Starbuck here!
Mike Stavola through paddled the Trail in a kayak in 33 days during the summer of 2009. Check out his web page describing his journey, Kayakathon.
Excellent photos and engaging writing make Rick Beaty’s blog a must read. And for the inquisitive, it’s a chance to explore just what is the Crooked Blue Line
Gil Whitney, a 67 year-old kayak through paddler, completed the trail in 2009. Read his fascinating experience of kayaking and witnessing a bear swimming across the same lake on his blog Gils Bucket List.
Looks like there’s an interesting through paddle afoot for 2009, beginning with the construction of a cedar strip canoe. Check out the blog site for Noah, Don, and Argy.
Morrigan and Mahsa are slated to begin their journey on July 18th. Follow their adventures as they guide the Floraburn over the NFCT. They will be updating their blog regularly with Twitter-feeds.
Adam and Andy Boone (finished through paddle August 27, 2008)
Link to an article about Adam and Andy Boone.
Eileen McCue and William Hafford (finished through paddle July 10)
Link to an article about Eileen McCue and William Hafford.
Luke Shorty and Brett Townsend (finished through paddle July 10)
Debbie Chapin and Alan Christman, Jr. (AKA “JR”) (section paddling)
Chris Gill (section paddling)
Zand Martin and Ben Reilly
Link to an article about through paddlers Zand Martin and Ben Reilly.
Jason Bivin (attempted AT and NFCT in one summer!)
NFCT Paddlers List
The following is a list of paddlers who have either section-paddled or thru-paddled the trail.
Peter Kick, 2003-04
Robert Hughes, 2005-06
Bruce Gallop, 2014
Russ Ford, 1995-2015
Will Jefferies, 2015
Chris Gill, 2008-2015
Donnie Mullen, 2000
Nicole Grohoski**, 2006
Tom Perkins**, 2006
Bill DePersis, 2006
Bill Yarosh, 2006
Alexander Bailey Martin, 2007
Benjamin Reilly, 2007
Curtis Cratty, 2007
Steve Cratty, 2007
Brad Kohler, 2007
Sara Maits, 2007
Mariana Du Brul**, 2007
Peter Du Brul**, 2007
Darrin Kimbler, 2007
Bill Nedderman, 2008
Eileen McCue, 2008
William Hafford, 2008
Luke Shorty, 2008
Brett Townsend, 2008
Paul Heintz, 2008
Jonathan Hancock, 2008
Andy Boone, 2008
Adam Boone, 2008
Sam Brakeley, 2009
Andy Rougeot, 2009
Mike Stavola, 2009
Ryan Thompson, 2010
Catherine Thompson, 2010
Alexander Niemela, 2010
Brian Hart, 2010
Whitny Hart, 2010
Nicholas Farrell, 2010
Arthur Wilke, 2010
David Porter, 2010
Kevin Porter, 2010
Jeff Delorme, 2010
Mike Delorme, 2010
Cathy Mumford, 2010
Evan Tear Haynes, 2011
Wesley Norton, 2011
Silas Streeter, 2011
Alex Comeau, 2011
Justine Jarvis, 2011
Tom Kiernan, 2011
Judi Jacobi, 2011
Walter Jacobi, 2011
Katina Daanen, 2011
Russ Collett, 2011
Jeremy Collett, 2011
Elspeth Ronnander, 2012
Erik Pieh, 2012
Emily Johnson, 2012
Sherry Olsen, 2012
Arden Olsen, 2012
Mark Fromm**, 2012
Bob Tremblay*, 2013
James Townsend*, 2014
Don Potter**, 2014
Marilyn McEwan**, 2014
Geoffrey Welch*, 2014
Valerie Welch*, 2014
Beth Whalon**, 2014
Paul Whalon**, 2014
Abby Rockefeller*, 2014
Jordan Cerna*, 2014
Dan Brown, 2014
Jeff Loustaunau, 2014
Patrick McCauley**, 2015
Julie McCauley**, 2015
Gabrielle Bognet**, 2015
Brice Bognet**, 2015
Malo Bognet**, 2015
Michael Frederick*, 2015
Robert DiMaio*, 2015
Chris Burnham**, 2015
Jim Sausville**, 2015
Nick Gowens**, 2015
John Mautner**, 2015
Laurie Chandler**, 2015
Mack Truax**, 2015, 2016
Paul Kitchen**, 2016
Andrew Aderman**, 2016
Collin Blunk**, 2016
Emily Rosser**, 2016
Lyell Read**, 2016
Mary Duk*, 2016
Susan Storch*, 2016
John Donnelly**, 2016
Definitions of Categories
Paddle the entire trail as one expedition, during a single season. Thru-paddlers will be designated into one of the following three categories:
Those who complete the entire 740 miles in one direction using their own power to paddle, pole, and portage. Leaving the trail via other means of travel for lodging, shopping, or other reasons will not count against the self-propelled paddler as long as they return to the same spot to continue the journey on the trail. Consideration for deviations to this definition will be given to safety, inclement weather, and extreme low water. Self-Propelled Paddlers are designated with a double asterisk (**) on the Thru-paddlers List.
Those who paddle the NFCT as one expedition during a single season in one direction and use a shuttle for one or more of the carries, not to exceed 10% of the total trail distance (74 miles). Integrated Paddlers are designated with a single asterisk (*).
Integrated “Downstream” Paddlers
Those who paddle the NFCT as one expedition, during a single season, reversing direction on one or more rivers to increase downstream miles. There will be no mark to designate this category.
Paddle the entire NFCT as a series of two or more expeditions, over the course of multiple paddle seasons. Please note that while we happily cheer section paddlers along the way and over the years, we do not confer recognition until completion of the entire Trail.
We hope you’ll feel that the challenge was in the paddling, not in the process of gaining recognition! Applications are reviewed on an annual cycle and are due by November. Names are added to the NFCT List, and certificates mailed by the end of January.
The above categories went into effect for the 2013 paddle season. Apply for recognition using the “NFCT Recognition Application and Feedback Form”. The form is available in a two formats:
If you need extra NFCT Travel Logs, follow this link.
All paddlers on the “NFCT List” prior to 2013 will remain on the list without category designation. Paddlers designated as NFCT Thru-paddlers prior to 2013 can fill out and return the current “NFCT Paddler Recognition Application” to be considered as either a Self-propelled Thru-paddler or Integrated Thru-paddler.
Questions? Call 802-496-2285 or e-mail us.