My buddy and I have a couple of days off this summer and are trying to plan a kayak trip in the northern northeast. Two summers ago we had 5 days and 4 nights and kayaked the Allagash from Churchill Dam north to the St. Lawrence. This time, we will have 4 days and 3 nights. We were thinking about lake champlain and doing some island hopping. Or possibly, northern New Hampshire and looking into the Connecticut lakes.
We would like to paddle about 45 - 50 miles over the whole trip and have it be as remote or wild as possible.
We would also consider a seacoast trip up the maine coast, but we would want to be using our tents, and the mileage might decrease slightly.
Anybody with previous trip experience or just some general ideas about the region would be great. If anyone has specific knowledge of Lake Champlain, (put in’s, campable islands, regulations, so on) that would be great. I have yet to discover a guide for that region.
Some useful links re Champlain paddling
In general you’ll likely find the most options for island camping in the northern half. The southern portion has campsites, more often on the Vermont side than the NY side, and there are some unpublicized low-intensity spots that people have gotten away with on public land. But you would probably prefer to have a decent landing site and use a campfire.
I happen to think that the northern portion has better views too, but others may disagree.
You will want to look for a route with good sheltered alternatives should the wind blow - it produces a heck of a fetch coming out of the south or north.
The only critter warning is that the lake is afflicted with zebra mussels too, most noticeable in the southernmost portion. You can inadverdently cut the heck out of your hands or feet on these things, so shoes and gloves are a good idea in that part of the lake.
do you mean
you paddled the Allagash from Churchill Dam to the St John? The Allagash doesn’t flow into the St. Lawerence–it joins the St John at Allagash Village and from there flows east and south into the Bay of Fundy at St John New Brunswick.
is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
Watch out for Champy!
Why do you want to drive past the Adirondacks to go kayaking in a really big lake? Whatever paddling experience you want - rivers, winding streams, little lakes, big lakes, fast water, slow water - you can find somewhere in that huge park. Another nice feature is that an Adirondack trip can be as ‘back’ or ‘front’ country as you want.
You could plan a trip that allow you a couple of stops for food and beverage replenishment, as well as minimizing portages (Excuse my ‘Canoer’s Assumption’ about kayakers limitations on portaging and carrying QofL items).
I’ve been on Champlain in an open boat when the wind blew up. That is wind!
I just bought a drysuit on line from a company out that way. www.kayak-shack.com They can probably help you.
Consider joining Maine Island Trail Association (MITA.org), which will provide you with innumerable overnite paddling opportunities on the ME coast, from day trips to multi-day excursions.
If you looking for wilderness…
you won’t find it on Lake Champlain. I’ve spent some time on the lake and it’s nice enough but it can be a little disappointing. For example, the water quality is not so great and it would be worse without the zebra mussels. If you’re looking for a “wilderness like” experience, you might try Lake Umbagog on the Maine/NH border or Moosehead Lake which is in Maine northeast of Umbagog. Moosehead is HUGE and COLD so be prepared. One of the reasons you might want to try Moosehead is that a company called Plum Creek has bought most of the land around the lake from the lumber companies and has plans to develope parts of the lake front. There’s a battle going on right now about this but you might want to see it before it starts to change too much. I think the north end is still completely undeveloped. There are tons of other lakes and rivers in Maine that would fit the bill but others would have to give you specifics. The Maine coast is a great idea and joining MITA is the way to do it. With your membership fee you get a book listing and describing the islands and campsites you will have access to. The farther east you go the fewer people you will see but it’s all good. Just keep in mind that in Downeast Maine the water doesn’t get above 55 degrees even in August and the fog is world famous.The water’s not much warmer in southern Maine either. Good luck and have a great time wherever you wind up.—Rich
A point worth mentioning if your vacation time is limited. In addition to needing decent navigation skills as well as familiarity with the area to handle those fogs with comfort, they can be around every afternoon and evening for a few days on end in the Gulf of Maine in the summer. In fact two years ago we were there for three weeks in July, and the fog didn’t give us a break until the end of the second week.
They are wet and drippy to camp in of course. And unless you have unusual vacation goals spending the bulk of a few days only being able to see 20 feet could kinda mess things up.
That said, waking up on a MITA island, especially the less-populated private ones, is an indescribable treat. For us, since we only have to paddle a moderate distance from our regular rented cabin to an island, it’s worth risking the fog. If you are on a short vacation though, you may want to consider the early fall for that trip.
if you want to avoid the fog
go to Moosehead---ocean like conditions without the tides and fog---also lots of FREE campgrounds with picnic tables and outhouses(unlike MITA campsites where you have to pack out your s***t.) I wrote an article for Atlantic Coastal Kayaker in the May 2006 issue(Volume 15 No.3) about circumnavigating the lake. And right now the lake is still a wilderness experience(more so than most of the Maine coast where you can't seem to avoid all the lobster and pleasure boats in the summer months.) But don't wait long---even though Plumb Creek has significantly scaled down its development, change is coming. ps--the Delorme Company publishes a waterproof chart of Moosehead showing all the campsites---its about 6 or 7 $---I highly recommend it---It can be purchased at the Map Store in Old Town or LL Beans in Freeport or the Delorme store in Yarmouth.
Hey everyone, thanks for all of the thoughts and advice. I have been looking at maps of Champlain and get the feeling that the remoteness that I am looking for is not to be had there. Seems like a wonderful spot if you are there, but not necessarily a place to seek out for solitude.
As for the Maine Coast, We have toyed with doing something like that for a while now, and although our time is limited it was great to come across such an excellent resource as MITA. We are defintely going to pursue that as an option. A decision will have to be made as far as fog goes.
We have looked at an Umbagog - Rangeley trip, or vice versa, I guess, I think it is map 8 or 9 on the NFCT maps. I am certainly going to pick up that Delorme Moosehead guide, if not for now, then perhaps in the future?
BTW, I live down here in Southern CT, with the closest spot to the Ocean (read long island sound) being Milford. I have already come across the Norwalk Islands Canoe/Kayak Trail out of Calf Pasture Beach, but I was wondering if there were anything else similar to the MITA for CT. Do any of the islands up near the Thimble Islands allow camping?
Thanks for the great thoughts and ideas, and you were correct jonsprag1, it was the St. John. I always confuse all of the Saints. And, I would suggest that trip to anyone!!
No, there is no public camping on any of the Thimble Islands. Almost all of them are private but you can visit Outer Island which is National Wildlife Refuge land. If you’re interested google Friends of Outer Island for more info. You can camp on Grassy and Shea Islands in the Norwalk group from April til Oct. I think. You"ll need a permit from the town. I also paddle out of Calf Pasture during the off season. The islands are beautiful during the winter. One suggestion, you might want to join ConnYak. They’re a great group of paddlers with a lot of outings in the area. The website is www.connyak.org.