Allagash - where to put in for a 3-5 day overnight trip in a fiberglass boat

I will be picking up a new boat this spring and spending a few months driving back home with it. I am thinking about doing a few days in the Allagash but not sure if it is suitable for fiberglass boats and, if so, where I should put in (and take out) so as to avoid rocks and hull scrapes and anything more than flat water. This is very preliminary planning. I am not married to the idea of the Allagash but would definitely like to get out into the north woods wilderness and have a chance to see moose, loons, etc…stuff I don’t see down in Georgia where I currently live. I’ve also considered the BWCA. Honestly, there’s so much water up in that part of the country, I barely no where to begin (there’s not a single natural lake in GA btw). I would prefer a destination that has a more intimate cozy feel (i.e., narrow vs wide river sections; coming around bends [e.g., where you might surprise/be surprised by a moose] vs long straightaway stretches). In that regard, the pictures I see on the web make the BWCA look more inviting that the Allagash but not sure if I could get a good multi-day trip in in the BWCA without portaging (which I don’t want to do). Perhaps with that in mind, there are other options I should consider. Anyway, I think I’ve hijacked my own thread. I look forward to any of your thoughts about ANY of this!!

Given your timing and fiberglass boat I would recommend that you paddle somewhere on the lakes portion of the trip, not the river.

We have run the Allagash in ultralite Kevlar. However we live close enough to watch the water levels and did do the ranger assisted portage around Chase Rapids. The water level was 1500 cfs. enough to cover all but the biggest rocks and we could maneuver around those. If you can get here in the spring your chief obstacle is stopping… Eddy turns to get to campsites are essential at high water.
Anything under 1500 isnt going to kill your boat but you might have mental anguish.
May is usually ice out time… could be a little earlier. May and June are good moose months.
I am going to suggest another trip. Down the West Branch of the Penobscot. It is just a moving river… some rips at Big Island… I take composites through there always.
Put in at Lobster Trip on the Lobster Rd… Paddle south to Lobster Lake… Take a couple of days exploring the many beaches and wetlands and do some hiking
Retrace… to the Penobscot River… Go north to Chesuncook Village. You could arrange for a shuttle pick up there but my preferences have always been to get Allagash Gateway Campground to take me to Lobster Trip Parking lot and drive my truck back to their campground They are at Chesuncook Lake Road in the lower right… Chesuncook is a large dangerous incredibly beautiful lake right under Mt Katahdin. There is also public parking at Chesuncook Ranger station should you do two private vehicle shuttle. However I have found Allagash Gateway Campground shuttle and parking reasonable
The whole trip takes from 4 -6 days at a reasonable pace. You can extend it by going up to Caucomogoc Lake where there is camping at the north end… Total mileage would be around 80 miles.

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Great, thanks for the info. Kayakmedic, is that map order-able from somewhere as a paper map? Also, why do you say that Lake Chesuncook is dangerous? Do you mean that with the fetch, the waves can whip up a bit and the water is typically very cold?

yeah, chesuncook can be windy and-when the wind is present the waves tend to build as they travel the length of the lake, The wind typically funnels from the northwest to southeast- the way the lake is naturally aligned- not a lot of shelter provided by the shoreline.

It’s been over thirty years since I’ve paddled there but it is my understanding that access may have improved- perhaps you can take out now at Chesuncook village.? You wouldn’t have far to travel on the lake if that was the case.

West branch is a good place to see Moose, Lobster lake nice place to paddle as well

another place you might want to check out canada falls lake- you can make a base at the campground and explore from there and while the south branch of the penobscot is to rough ( class III and Iv flows out of canada falls) the north branch early in the season is a pleasant trip from snake pit to pittston farm. Pittston farm might be worth checking out as well for a shuttle since they are a vacation b and b of sorts (located on seboomook lake).

But If you really want to see moose the westbranch is hard to beat.

All of these options require permits and fees

I’m not sure any of those options above really have the twists and turns you ultimately like- its hard to find that without rocks or portaging involved in Maine… Haybrook can provide some twist and turns and provides access to the Allagash .I’m not sure the put in there is a place I would want to leave a car. From caucomogomic Lake you can take Ciss Stream into round and poland and dagget ponds- good moose country as well. Loon Stream is runnable into caucomogomic lake if there is enough water but as I remeber it was kind of rocky at low flows into caucomogomic lake. i wouldn’t consider ciss stream as being all that pretty but it is definately twisty- the ponds are what are special.

My suggestion is buy a Maine Delorme Guide and also utilize the Northeast Paddlers Forum-

@Monkeyhead said:
Great, thanks for the info. Kayakmedic, is that map order-able from somewhere as a paper map? Also, why do you say that Lake Chesuncook is dangerous? Do you mean that with the fetch, the waves can whip up a bit and the water is typically very cold?
That map I cited is printable… I have done the trip so many times I dont need a map! Allagash for a three to five day trip is considerably more expensive. The shuttle alone takes three hours over logging roads. Put in at Churchill Dam for 62 mile trip… You could also put in at Umsaskis lake. for a shorter trip.
Chesuncook usually whips up three foot waves because it along with Black Pond is 27 miles long and the wind funnels down it.

Yes you can now take out at the public landing on Chesuncook. I am not sure of the condition of the road though . It may be best for trucks. I have not seen a car in that parking lot. Nor have I personally ended a trip there as I do enjoy a couple of the sites on Chesuncook farther down.

The Delorme Gazeteer is still printed… Very useful for running around the North Maine Woods.

The Allagash is a great trip. I’ve done a 4 and a 5 day trip da on it and it was a awesome experience. But water levels can be an issue at times. One year we found ourselves needing to drag in some places. Not a lot but enough to probably scratch the hell out of your new boat. That was in August. Our previous trip in June had higher water and I don’t recall too many spots where it was really shallow.

Another option could be the Adirondacks. The Oswegatchie River can be a 3+ day paddle up river from Inlet, with a carry past High Falls, then then double back to your start. Water levels are very consistent there and I’ve always had plenty of water even in late summer. There are a several beaver dams along the way, but they are pretty easy to drag the boat over and wet wood is a lot easier on a hull than rocks. It is a beautiful place to paddle.

The Raquette River would be another option. I’ve never paddled it, but I know people who have and enjoyed the trip. There may be a few carries depending on the section you choose.

First of all and #1 scratches happen, get past that. #2 If you have a glass canoe and you aren’t the Hulk I don’t think you want to try BWCA. #3 “Eddy turns to get to campsites?” I can only think of two sites on the river you would need that, McKeen Brk, Five Finger Brk West and I’ll be generous and throw in Ramsey’s Ledge. The 1st time we ran it we had 6 people with no to limited canoe experience with no problems.

At 3700 cfs the river changes… Yah be prepared for eddy turns. At 1500 not so much.
Funny we did Quetico twice in a glass canoe and there were lots of portages. But it was just 62 lbs and not much more than some glass/kev blends today.
We did find that Chase Rapids benefits from eddy turns when someone has a yard sale. But there should be no such sale with the shuttle available for gear.

Yes it does and it changes when it’s 800 and also @+7000 also.

I find Chase overrated even tho that the hardest one I’ve done, it’s just not that tough to get thorough, kneel down and paddle. The worst part is running it empty sitting on the water like a cork.