Canoeist Begins Stand Up Paddling Trip on Northern Forest Canoe Trail

OLD FORGE, N.Y. – An experienced canoe and kayak instructor with a 500-mile paddling expedition under his belt set out Sunday on a two-week stand up canoeing trip along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT).
Jon “Shaggy” McLaughlin, 32, launched from the trail’s western terminus at Old Forge Pond before spectators attending the annual Adirondack Paddlefest. The Dalton, Mass., native is the marketing director for Sawyer Paddles and Oars in Talent, Ore., and has taught kayaking, canoeing and backpacking courses for the National Outdoor Leadership School in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.

“I grew up along the Appalachian Trail corridor doing lots of two and four-day backpacking trips, so I’ve always been intrigued with the idea of a water thru-trail paddle,” said McLaughlin. “I love the landscape of the Adirondacks and New England, and the NFCT is the best way to see the region by canoe.”

In an effort to bring attention to the sport of stand up canoeing, McLaughlin will stand up paddle as much of the route as possible, testing himself on the windy northern end of Raquette Lake, Class III and IV rapids in the Saranac River and the unpredictable conditions of Lake Champlain.

He is believed to be the first person to attempt a long-distance stand up trip on the NFCT. In 2005, he and five other paddlers completed a 30-day, 500-mile canoe expedition in the Canadian Arctic.
McLaughlin hopes to travel about 17 miles each day, a pace that would cover the 147-mile New York section of the 740-mile trail in nine days. He’ll then have to cross Lake Champlain and attempt to paddle upstream on the Missisquoi River in the northwest corner of Vermont. Portage trails connect the lakes, rivers and streams that make up the waterway, and allow paddlers to bypass dangerous waterfalls and dams.

“The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is the quintessential paddling experience in the northeastern United States,” said John Nemjo, owner of Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company and director of Adirondack Paddlefest. “It embodies a plethora of paddling opportunities and symbolizes one of the great recreational opportunities that abounds in the North Country.”

The NFCT opened to the public in 2006 and follows traditional American Indian travel routes over the major watersheds of northern New York, Vermont, southern Quebec, Canada; New Hampshire and Maine. The portage trails, waterside campsites and public and private campgrounds on the NFCT allow canoeists, kayakers and fishermen to spend a weekend, week or longer exploring the waterway and the communities it flows through.

Details of the 13 mapped sections of the trail can be found on the interactive Map Planner tool on More information can also be obtained by calling the NFCT at 802-496-2285.


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