I have searched the net for as much as I could find. Anybody have any pointers for a trip to the Allagash ( or inside info ).We are going the first week of Aug and just trying to plan. We are starting at Indian river and going to Allagash town. Thanks
What kind of information do you want?
I am not writing a book if not needed.
As a matter of fact most info is well presented in this book by the Allagash guru Gil Gilpatrick
In August get on the water early. The beginning of the month still sees summer camp trips.
Here is another useful link. Don't know if you found it already
Don't forget to click on Download Brochure.
Consider adding in the lakes
Chamberlain Bridge to Allagash Village is a special canoe trip. I think it is my favorite trip. 8 days is a good amount of time. I agree Gil’s book is very helpful. Be prepared for low water levels that time of year.
Put in at Indian Stream only
bypasses Chamberlain. If one wanted to include Round Pond and Telos you would have to backtrack a bit from the put in at Chamberlain Bridge. Telos Landing is no longer open.
There may be good reason to avoid Chamberlain. There is nowhere to hide if the wind is up. At least on Eagle you have a “sporting chance”
Don’t forget to include stopping at the Tramway and railroad to visit the old engines, rotting lumber cars and railroad equipment.
The biggest safety issue may be at Long Lake Dam. Line on the left or portage on the right. The dam has spikes that can rip your boat up if you choose to run; and seldom does anyone want to try for that reason…the dam itself is not that impressive anymore for rapids.
Indian Stream is a popular put in as you still get a healthy dose of lakes without too much risk of getting really stuck for days. That said I spent one extra day at Scofield Point once. Luckily its a really neat campsite as is Scofield Cove.
And of course for the most fun, take advantage of the Ranger shuttle service for gear around Chase Rapids. Its far more enjoyable to run with an empty boat and find your gear safe and dry when you arrive at Bissonette Bridge. (no more bridge…just a big pool)
I’ve had some wonderful times all over
those lakes including Chamberlain. Personally I would never bypass that majestic lake. Just build a day or two into your schedule. The trip is long enough that you can make up time if need be. I recall long ago before the roads changed everything we would open up the small Locke Dam to give ourselves a bit of water to float down from Chamberlain into Eagle. Its rare that the wind will blow all night - it does happen - but not often. Generally a bit of night paddling under a full moon will do the trick and it is good for the soul. I agree don't miss the locomotives. I remember some wonderful times at a site called Chisholm Brook on the right just before Chase empties into Umsaskis. On Memorial day we had fiddle heads, scotch on the rocks (ice from the brook) and a mess of brook trout for dinner there one year. In the spring the Snipe will be very active. And there is often a pack of Coyotes across the way in the hills. Lots of Moose, Deer and birds. Teaming with life in that area.
There is a promo video that he state of maine put out maybe 7-8 years ago. They filmed it when we were there on a fall trip. I think our group and the film crew were the only people on the trip at the time. Lots of footage of my fat a** standing and floating down river. They cut one shot they had of one of our party bathing in the buck at Long Lake Dam. That is another nice spot to sleep if it fits your schedule. Plus, since you are sleeping on the short carry trail you avoid all that spike stuff. If you can find that promo video it would be fun to see before you go to get a feel for the place. The people of the State of Maine have a very special resource in the Allagash and St. John River waterways. Very special. Its too bad there has been so much controversy. The river has many access points now - too many for my taste. But still it is gorgeous. You will have a wonderful trip no doubt about that. The flies will be gone and the weather will likely be calm and warm. I envy you.
I've had great luck with Norm L'Italiene for shuttles and advice. Very nice guy. I believe he lives in St. Francis. Not 100% sure. He is low key and reliable.
I have had good times on Chamberlain
I think one of my favorite spots is the north end where you can see the remnants of the trestle that crossed Chamberlain.
Lock Dam was rehabbed two years ago in the winter of 2010-11. Don’t know if you still can manually open it.
We did a fall trip in horrid snowy rainy windy weather and base camped at Lock Dam in Oct 2010. Iknow, shame that I did not go in 2011 as its less than half day drive from home. Last week I just finished reading Dorothy Kidney’s book about life at Lock Dam. The cottage is still there.
Not only is the trip about scenery but also history.
Certainly allow time to investigate the restored buildings at Churchill Dam and to poke around. Its all too easy to pass two weeks on this river.
You will find the waterway adequately patrolled by rangers. They are very good company to share history with and great lunchtime companions. Many have been there a long time and live there year round. I happen to be fond of Ranger Tom Coon at Chamberlain Bridge. On a miserable day he invited my husband and I for lunch in the ranger cabin. Seems we looked really cold!
The DVD is Northrunner
seems you can still buy it at
This gives a great history of the area and give you a good feel for the area.
thanks for the link
I am so sorry you are an exile..I am an escapee..from Connecticut.
Some folks from Away are good...
I made much of my life here in Vermont
and it is a wonderful state. I have always loved Maine. I’ve spent a lot of time there myself and I put three kids through school in Maine which was not a minor expense I can tell you. Might be one of the few States I would like to live in other than Vermont. Mainers are good folk. I think they feel the same about Vermonters. We have a lot in common. The Allagash and the St. John are treasures. The Machias is another nice trip. There are so many. I think this spring we will head up into Quebec somewhere for a week or so. I’ll try to gin up some interest in a trip way up north - maybe out west - for the summer of 2013. We aren’t getting any younger, are we?
Thanks for the insight. We really can’t wait to get up there. I have read the regulation on canoe sizes (length vs width) and I am a little concerned. I have a 14’ old town that I always solo but it is wider than their regulations. In fact most new canoes are wider than what they say.
Has this been a problem to anyone that you know of?
And yes, the book by Gil , I almost have it memorized already
In all due respect all of my 17 canoes fall within the width restriction, be they solos or tandems.
With a 14 footer that is wider than 34 inches, you are going to have some issues with the speed of the boat. When the wind comes up and it will things will go slow or stop.
That said I believe there is some discretion on the part of the Rangers. There was a through paddler on the NFCT that showed up in a nine foot Swifty and she did have to get another boat. But borderline cases, you are probably OK.
Never knew there were any
regulation regarding boat size. The classic boat for the trip is a 20' Old Town Tripper XL. 17' Tripper is what I generally use. I think frankly it will be a struggle for you with that boat- the lakes might be dangerous and you want a big flat bottom for the shallows in the river. Just my opinion but I honestly think you should think twice. I suggest you rent a Tripper from Norm. You'll have a lot more fun and be a lot safer. Unless you are paddling solo and traveling really light you are much better off with a more substantial boat. The Allagash can be very sweet at times - most of the time really. But there will be days that seem quite arduous - wind and rain. It is important to give the trip the healthy respect it deserves.
You might want to pick up that DVD - it gives you a really good feel for the place, and the history too. Lots of history. Look for the shots of the beat to heck patched old town tripper with the old fart standing up in the stern. That's yours truly! Other shots in there of our group and an interview of my paddling partner - the guy with the white beard. Then there are the interviews with the nice soft spoken young ranger on the lower part of the river. He spent some time with us telling stories about the UFOs in the area and the abduction. If you want to add some interest - run a google search for "Allagash abductions".
Paddling up in that area is a spiritual experience for many people. The loons are all over the place. Try to time it so you have a big moon while you are there. Lots of Mergansers and Geese. In the spring the warblers are amazing.
Can anyone let shed some light on how strict they are on beer or some cocktails?
I refuse to answer
on the gounds that my response might tend to incriminate me.
Never knew there was any issue. We have cocktail hour every evening after dishes are done. A cigar or two have been known to appear - especially in June when the flies are out.
This is pretty much a live and let live kind of situation. Keep the noise down but do what you want as long as you don't bother anyone else. It is no uncommon to paddle for 10 days and not see a ranger. The idea is to get out in the woods. It has a bit of a park feel to it because there are designated camp sites with tables and ridge poles and privies - but other than that it is pretty wild country. You need to be able to take care of yourself. There is no cell phone coverage unless that has changed recently. If someone needs help you have to send someone to a ranger station and that can be more than a day's paddle in places. When we used to bring our kids we had a rule - NO RADIOS or IPods. They grumbled. We kept them well fed and that made up for it. But it is important to immerse yourself in the wildness of the place and sever all but emergency communication with the real world.
there are several ranger stations
Chamberlain Bridge, Umsaskis Thorofare, Churchill Dam and Michaud Farm. The rangers do patrol a set beat and cover twenty miles or so a day with their Old Town XL’s with motor. They need the motor for upstream travel.
They know what is going on through the radio system. The gates advise them on what is going on. Leaving a dirty campsite will get you in a heap of trouble. Once at Scofield Point we found a trench had been made and left open with a pile of crap and TP. I reported it to the Churchill Dam ranger. Several days later at Michaud Farm the ranger told me the group had been halted and thrown off the river.
You can bring your adult recreational beverage of choice. That is not a problem.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail Maps number 12 and 13 are very good, they also have a description in thier guide book. The Delorme map is not quite as detailed but is well worth looking at. Gil Gilpatrick’s book is good background although I travel much lighter than he does and pack much differently.
If you have specific question I’m sure someone here can answer them.
When you go through the gate
you can pick up a simple and perfectly adequate map for small $. Its pretty hard to get lost. Just keep heading north.
Thanks for all the info. I really appreciate your help.
However it is not waterproof
so enroute you might pass a Hannaford Supermarket. They do sell up front a very nice waterproof map for $7.95 Its got more detail than the paper map and you can ferret out additional historic sites.
Its all downstream and the paper map will get you there…but it does tend to get wet and fall apart.
there is a Hanafords in Millinocket (sp) I believe - right after you exit I95.
If you need a nice clean hotel there is a good, clean, and cheap hotel just off I95 at the Medway exit (millinocket) on the right. Nice place.