I know there is already a boat load of information on here (no pun intended) about the Allagash but I just want to filter it down some.
Some friends and I (all Carolina boys) are really wanting to experience this great place but we are completely lost. We don’t want to get a guide and we are using our own gear.
Here is the situation:
Long Lake Round Pond 10
Round Pond Michaud Farm 15
Michaud Farm Allagash Falls 3
Allagash Falls Twin Brook 8
Twin Brook Allagash Village 6
Arrival- Check in at Waterway Ranger Camp. Camp at Pine campsite.
Day 1- Long lake to Round Pond (10mi). Camp at Tower Trail. Hike to Round Pond Tower (4.8 total miles)
Day 2- Round Pond to Michaud Farm (15mi). Camp at Ramsay Ledge. Check out Ramsay Brook
Day 3- Michaud Farm through Allagash Falls to Twin Brook (11mi) Camp at East Twin Brook.
Day 4- Twin Brook to Allagash Village (6mi). Maybe check out the town of Allagash and head home.
I got all this info from http://www.katahdinoutfitters.com/allagash-wilderness-waterway-rv1996.pdf
Does anybody know if this is a good trip? Any better ideas?
I know there is already a boat load of information on here (no pun intended) about the Allagash but I just want to filter it down some.
some mileages may be a little short
on that old map... believe it is around 53 miles from the Umsaskis Thoroughfare (access point before Long Lake) to the town of Allagash.
17 miles from there to Round Pond... then about 18 to Michaud Farm... and another 17 to Allagash plus the portage around the falls.
Be prepared for a loooong drive to get there... get a good rest on "Day 0" before you start paddling.
IMO you should extend it another night if you can, and put in at Churchill Dam instead -- running Chase Rapids is one of the best parts of the trip!!
The fire tower hike is a great choice, I missed the opportunity. Also look for the giant elm tree right before Round Pond, a survivor of Dutch elm disease. Poke into some of the side brooks if there's time. Fishing permit is expensive, I didn't think it was worth the expense.
After the takeout, don't miss the opportunity to eat at the "Two Rivers Lunch" diner in Allagash!
If you can possible get the time
think about doing the full trip - Chamberlain Bridge to Allagash Village. One of the wonderful things about the Allagash is the variety it offers. Chamberlain Lake, Eagle Lake, Little Eagle, etc. - wonderful part of the trip. It is the mixture of lake and river travel that makes it such a great trip. If you time things right you can sleep on the lakes and ponds almost every night which is nice - loons ever present. The trip after Allagash Falls is not as interesting imho - civilization start to creep back in. I always feel as though the trip is over the morning we depart from the falls. We generally paddle out from the falls to Allagash Village in one day. But all in all this is my personal favorite canoe trip. I never grow tired of the Allagash. You are in for a real treat. Savor ever moment.
You might consider working it out so that you camp at the portages - makes things easier. So you could camp at Long Lake Dam which is a nice site and you could camp at Allagash Falls. Also, as you come into Round Pond rather than camp at the trail site consider the site immediately on your left as you enter the pond. It is a lovely site. Its just a 5 minute paddle over to the trail - you don't need to camp there and that site is on a pretty steep angle, not much in the way of level tent sites. I think the site I am referring to is called "Inlet" but I'm might be confusing locations.
Bring a nice big tarp. All the sites have tables with ridge pole you can through your tarp over.
Also, if you have not paddled white water you might consider using the portage service offered by the rangers at the dam. They will give you and your gear a ride around Chase Rapids if you are not comfortable paddling Chase so don't let that stop you from putting in further upstream.
There is a fellow up near Allagash Village - or maybe St. Francis, Norm L'Italienne,(sp?), who provides shuttle and canoe rental service. I have always had great luck with him, real nice guy and he knows the area extremely well.
what time of year are you planning to do this? Are you going to rent canoes?
I like camping on the river, away from roads. Another option for you:
Churchill -> Long Lake - Pine,Grey Brook
Long Lake -> Round Pond
Round Pond -> Five Fingers
Five Fingers -> Allagash Falls
Allagash Falls -> Twin Brook
Twin Brook -> Allagash (or Norm’s place - longer paddle)
Camping at the falls is spectacular and splits the portage into a non-event.
Be prepared for the use fees
I brought my entire family (5) in once years ago for 10 days. The use fees were around 250 or so total for 5 non-residents. I think the info on the current fees is available on the north maine woods web site.
We usually drive to the put in and then have norm shuttle the cars out to Allagash Village then stop and pay him and have a short visit at his house on the way home.
The proposed trip is a little short
unless you want to do other things than simply paddle.
Here is Norms website. He is in St Francis but will do just about any arrangement you can think of.
I frankly don't care for your itinerary. I believe you are shortchanging yourself in a huge way by not starting at Churchill Dam.As others have indicated Chase is optional.
Where the river spills into Umsaskis at Chisholm Brook has wonderful moose viewing. I have never failed to see several moose there.
Even from the dam its a good four night trip.
I really don't care for camping at the falls. Depending on your four neighbors behavior it can be noisy and disrupted. Too many cells for my liking there.
"Where the river spills into Umsaskis at Chisholm Brook has wonderful moose viewing. I have never failed to see several moose there."
There is a camp site on the right called Chisholm Brook about 1/4 mile before you are in Umsaskis. I would not miss that spot. Snipe will be calling in the evening in spring. Peepers. Often you hear a pack of coyotes across the way at night. The fishing used to be very good there but I suspect that man not be the case today. Brook trout back in the day. Lots of Moose. Deer. Sharp Shinned hawks. Teeming with life. Including insects in June. But well worth it.
I usually stay at the falls just for convenience sake but yes I agree it can be crowded. We usually do this trip in the shoulder seasons so not so many people. Also that is always our last night out so we feel a bit like we’ve begun the re-entry phase anyway.
This is a wonderful place. You are going to love it. But, again, what time of year are you planning to head up there?
Only have a week?
Assuming you Carolina Boys start from somewhere close to where I-95 crosses the Virgina line, you are looking at 18 hours driving just to get into the Allagash neighborhood. Then things will slow down on the MNW roads. So, it is pretty much a full 24 hours or so to get you up there to a put-in. Be aware of the hours of the MNW checkpoints and time your trip so you don’t get there and find it closed.
I point out the drive time because you make a heck of an investment to get there, and I agree with the others that you should plan more days. We often like to package trips so that it fits cleanly into a week off of work. If that’s all the time you have, I guess you have to compress the schedule, but you will really be cheating yourself.
Previous posters alluded to the fees. I don’t know if this is still true, but in years past they did not accept credit or debit cards. So, make sure your party has cash to pay the fees.
Try to avoid black fly season.
Very useful info! That’s why I asked. I’m an avid fisherman and some guys are photographers so assuming we do a 7-10 day trip as described from all the posts above, what parts will be te best for fishing? I’m guessing the whole trip is a great photography adventure!
Trolling in the lakes? Umbrella rigs? Panther martins? Fly fishing?
I’m not used to trout and northern fishing so any advice here would be nice!
you have immunity after years of subjecting yourself to the hoards in June. In which event it is a great time because the water levels are good and there aren’t many other red necked bipeds crazy enough to venture into the woods at that time of year.
I’ll help best I can -
but - need to know, what time of year?
We haven’t decided on a time yet. Just trying to find the best possible scenario. We will be using our own canoes. I would really love to paddle the Chase Rapids so we will probably check that out too! Thanks for the help!
Time of year
Still deciding. Looking for the best possible scenario!
on the telephone. He is not the best e mail guy. Talk to him about best dates. But here are my thoughts.
The big issue with the Allagash - the river sections especially from Michaud Farm on downriver - is that the river gets low in summer. Sometimes it gets so low you have to either take out at Michaud Farm (this has happened to me) or you are literally dragging your loaded boats for mile upon mile across gravel with a trickle of water. (good reason for royalex here). So #1 you might want to pick a time where you are most likely to have good water levels. So this tends to mean avoid the dry summer weeks in late July and August - unless you are prepared to take a chance. Fall can be fine but not always.
Another issue with the Allagash (and all of the north maine woods really)is blackflies, midges (noseeums) and mosquitoes. You won't hear too much talk about it from the outfitters or Maine Tourism Publicity folks. Folks up here get used to the blackflies - most of us anyway - but it is nothing to be trifled with for people going into the NMW for the fist time in their lives who are not seasoned to bugs from some other experiences in their lives. I have had days on the Allagash when the bugs were the worst I ever seen and my experience includes trips in the arctic and subarctic regions of Canada. I hate bug dope so I always carry an Original Bug Shirt for the really bad days. So, if you are not experienced with bugs - meaning mostly but not only blackflies - you want to take that into account.
There is a period of time in early May through the first week of June where generally, but not always, there are no bugs and the water levels are consistently good. I've paddled that time of year up there quite a bit. I remember celebrating memorial day up there several times. Right after ice out on the lakes. You need to understand though that you are taking a chance because if the flies come out early you will be in the thick of it so be prepared. This time has the secondary benefit of good fishing on the lakes trolling near the surface for togue (lake trout) and brook trout. If you skip the lake portion of the trip (Chamberlain, Eagle etc) you might be able to get on even earlier but I would listen to others about that because I always paddle the lakes when I do this trip - Norman will give good advice on this. Also, the fall (September and early October) are bug free generally and the fishing starts to improve as the weather worsens and the cold winds start to come up. You might wake up to some snow especially in October. The foliage is nice in late September.
One nice thing to know about Black flies is that they almost always disappear or diminish after dark. So you get a break from them in the evening.
So taking all this into account my personal favorite times are Memorial Day and late September. I have paddled it in the summer (4th of July is good and usually quiet up there) and lucked out with water levels. That was a wonderful trip because there were no people (everyone is going to family gatherings back home) and the weather was delightful. Fishing ok.
I should also say that I have had numerous trips in this country when I did not see a single blackfly (early spring, mid summer, and fall). June is the worst month for bugs, usually. But then again I often paddle in June up there to avoid people so if you are a seasoned bug traveler it can be a fine time to go - fishing is good.
If you want to go in the nice weather of summer and risk the water levels you can ALWAYS paddle the lakes portion of the trip on down to Michaud Farm - if you are lucky with water you can head up to Allagash Village.
So those are some of my initial thoughts. Happy New Year!
I am one of those natives
and since I live three hours away the no seeums and blackflies and mosquitos are just a fact of life. Would rather be there being bitten than here being bitten.
Do not try and camp in the black spruc thickets. If there are bugs they are far worse in the woods. So beware hammock hangers.
I favor June for moose viewing with the new calves. But June is the height of bug season.
I don’t trip with low water levels but then again do not have to plan ahead really.
We have had very good luck…and I mean luck…in September with flows over 1500 cfs…but don’t count on it.
It really depends on the snowpack of the winter how early season goes. And so far this year there has hardly been any.
Here is the gauge site.
Below 800 walking below Michaud is entirely possible.
My perfect trip
We used to run this trip every year.
10 days, lakes and river, first two weeks of June. Put in was either Chamberlain thoroughfare or Indian Stream to Eagle(the shuttles will work with either).
Bugs can be bad. Can be cold, wet, windy, or spectacular.
Water levels usually pretty good.
Fishing on lakes and feeders is really good.
School is not out so the kids groups usually aren’t on the water.
I have run it later in the year with young paddlers (scouts, other groups), not the same experience. Water level is really important, like KM mentioned. We did a trip in August the year Churchill Dam was out of service, quite the hike and drag, not one of my smartest moves . .
how was the rain this summer?
looks like water levels were really good throughout September (that's as far back as the online gauge can be read)
In Aug. 08 we had to take out at Michaud Farm for the opposite reason and got stuck there for awhile... the river was in flood at 25K CFS. Despite the midges and the heavy nighttime rains it was still a fantastic trip. We ran Chase Rapids at about 8:30-9:00 AM I think they started the dam release at 8:00. My favorite campsite on that trip was Pillsbury Island, so I agree the mix of river & lake experience is one of the aspects that makes this trip special.
fees and weather
Fees for non-residents are $10.00 per day + $10.00 per night for camping.
If you have Google Earth you can follow your route and and look at the Panaramio pictures, this will give you a good idea of what to expect.
I recommend the Northern Forest Canoe Trail maps #12 and #13
I second the advise about trying to use campsite that have a breeze, stay out of the woods if you can. The sites on the Allagash are very well maintained, don’t forget to bring a tarp to put over the picnic table. Twin Brook is not my favorite site , it’s in the woods and because it is out of the AWW it is not nearly as well maintained as the other sites. It’s also near a road and you’ll probably hear the occasional truck.
A couple of notes, When I did the Allagash in 2010 we had a frost on June 16th. On the same trip we had to take a half day off because the wind was so strong. It took us three tries to paddle out of Round Pond, we kept getting blown back upstream into the pond, later that day we couldn’t paddle at all even though we were headed downstream, there were 3 foot wave being blown up river. I like to plan trips with at least one extra day in case of weather.
The Allagash is a classic American canoe route and in my opinion you really haven’t done it unless you do the whole 93 miles from Chamberlain Bridge. Having said that, If you don’t have the time for the whole thing a partial trip is better that nothing.
Options do exist in the same country
if you don’t have time to do the Chamberlain to Allagash Village trip (8 days commonly).
Lobster Lake trip (3-4 nights)
This is in the same country. Actually might be viewed as the first part of an extended old style Allagash trip. Easy short shuttle you can do yourself if you have two trucks. Put in at Lobster Stream which is a short flat river between Lobster Lake and the West Branch of the Penobscot. Leave a truck here. Paddle into Lobster Lake - beautiful spot with several very nice camp sites. View of Spruce if I’m not mistaken. Day 2 paddle back out Lobster Stream and down the Penobscot - camp at one of the nice spots along there. There can be very good fishing here (landlock salmon) if you hit it at the right time but there will also be hoards of fisherman potentially on the weekend. Otherwise it can be quiet. Next day paddle down to Chesuncook and spend one night (or two if you have the time) on Chesuncook. This is where you could carry into Chamberlain (start of what people now think of as the Allagash trip). It is not an easy carry but not too bad either. But if you only have 3 or 4 nights you can paddle day 3 or 4 out to the end of Chamberlain at the old Hotel where you will have left your other truck. The shuttle is only about half an hour or so. The trip makes a big U shape with the shuttle across the top of the U. This is a great long weekend type trip. I’ve enjoyed it many times. West Branch in that area is a lot like the Allagash.
Or - St. John River (4-5 nights)
This has a fair amount of moderate white water so you want to have some experience. Several good solid class 3 rapids near the end. But it is in exactly the same territory as the Allagash. In fact you often hear the same Coyote pack that makes a living near Chisholm brook on the Allagash we talked about earlier when you are on the St. John. It is 100% river if you start at Baker Lake so you can make very good time. 5 days is plenty. It is a spring run. May or first of June. I’ve beaten the bugs on that trip several times and it has been delightful. Lots of warblers etc. Moose.
More Allagash thoughts
I did the trip in mid August a couple of years ago. I used Norm to shuttle me from his campsite in St. Francis to Indian Stream. I put in there because the wind was blowing and I did not want to be on Chamberlin. Indian Creek takes you right into Eagle Lake.
There were NO bugs in mid August.
The water level was low (just above 400 CFS) which Gill Gilpatrick, in his very useful guide to the trip, lists as a minimum. Even at that, I rarely had to walk the canoe more than 50 feet or so to get it floating again.
I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Took a week to do it. The highlights were the old locomotives in the woods off Eagle lake and Allagash falls which were impressive in spite of the low water levels.
I would get a copy of Gilpatrick’s guide at:
I would also get NFCT maps nos. 12 and 13. And, because it shows the location of springs which the NFCT maps do not, the DeLorme map of the Allagash & St John Rivers.
I would use Norm L’Italien for the shuttle and his priceless advice. ph 207-398-3187.
Oh, yes, Norm said “whatever you do don’t bring one of those delicate boats”. I was planning to, but I brought a Royalex instead. The composite boat would have been pretty badly beaten up.
I think of this as a Mecca sort of trip for a canoeist. I hope to go back to the area this summer.