I really want to take an Allagash trip but paddle mostly flat water and slow rivers. I have never seen even class I water. Are there any places in eastern Massachusetts where I could safely teach myself how to paddle moving water? I paddle a 12ft fiberglass Old Town Stillwater. Not ideal for moving water but it’s what I got.

Ipswich River
The ipswich is a very nice slow moving and very winding river- a great place to paddle.

its in the north shore and can be paddled without any problems from middleton thru ipswich.

We go out there quite often this time of year- and we will be out this saturday if anyone would like to join us.


despite its reputation, the Allagash does NOT have very much significant white water—the only rapid to speak of is Chase Rips between Churchill Dam and Umsaskis Lake–and that is Class II±-III depending on the water level-also the Ranger Service will, for a small fee, transport you, your equipment and your boat around the rapid—its about 3 miles or so. If you would rather run it but don’t have much experience just have your gear transported around and run it with an empty boat. That way the worst thing that could happen is that you will get wet—but you will have dry clothes to change into when you finish the rapid at Bisonnette Bridge.

You should note that Allagash falls is the only other significant white water on the trip—it is about a 25–30 foot drop and despite a famous photograph of a paddler going over it in a canoe nobody ever runs it. You would have to be either crazy or very very drunk. The portage is only 1/3 of a mile over relativly easy ground and the entrance to it is marked by large signs visible from the river bank.

going to the Allagash in August!
and I cant wait.

The fee to get around chase rapids is $10-

What about the open water?
I will check out Ipswich.

I take a fishing trip up to that area every spring. In about three weeks we will be staying near Churchill Lake. I wouldn’t want to take an Allagash trip in early spring. The whether is just too unpredictable. I’m going to look into a trip later in the season. Just curious, excluding the two rough sections at the Chase rips and Allagash falls how would you rate the open water compared to the actual river? On the lakes the wind can get tough at times.

winds on the lakes
can be rough—your best bet is to get an early start on the day when the winds are likely to be calm—by mid afternoon, in the summer anyway, they are likly to pick up and make paddling a chore and in some cases dangerous—also you should stay off the lakes if it looks a thunderstrom is likly

Yeah we learned about those storms two summers ago on Indian Pond/West Outlet of the Kennebec. But I’m still wondering about Allagash. Except for those two rough spots would you say that the river is generally an easier paddle than the lakes? Or at least more tame than when the wind picks up on the big lakes?

The outlet of Round Pond
and Twin Brook Rips and the approach to Long Lake Dam can have whitewater that is sufficient to trip the unwary at water levels around 1500 feet.

There is no shuttle around those.

Some whitewater experience by one of a tandem crew is recommended. The other of the crew can be six as I did the river with my daughter.

So moving water experience is really beneficial when doing the Allagash…plus Chase is alot of fun. Yes it is possible to wrap a boat in Chase…have seen it done several times so think carefully if you decide to run it. You should have the skills to unstick yourself.

Bigger Boat…

– Last Updated: Apr-25-08 6:46 AM EST –

I think you need a longer boat. Longer canoes paddle easier and will perform better on the open water. A 12 foot boat will be a chore.

Water levels are suddenly low, but if the water comes up some, the Charles, and the Assabet have easy sections of rips you can try.

What part
of the Charles or Assabet. Both are large rivers. Unfortunately a 12 foot is all I have. And its a wide one too. 41 inches. Do you think I have to worry about paddling a fiberglass boat on one of these sections? As long as it is safe I will have to make due with the boat I have.

I’ve been down through Round Pond

– Last Updated: Apr-25-08 11:26 AM EST –

outlet at least 10 times and it has never been more than really easy class I--in all water levels. The only danger there is from fisherman who anchor their canoes in the middle of the stream to cast. I saw my brother collide with one once---my bro went over. The other guy, in a twenty foot canoe, tossed him a towel so he could dry off.

Long lake dam is a very short, but rather steep portage---Have gone through the chute of the abondanoned dam on extreme river right a number of times but you might prefer not to, particularly in low water, as there are supposedly spikes projecting from the timbers forming the chute that could wreck your canoe---the easiest and safest way to get through Long Lake dam is to line your canoe through on river left---you stand on the river bank, attach lines to the bow and stern and you and your paddling partner walk it through---easy to do there.

Twin brook rapids are hardly worth the title rapids--maybe a Class 1/2---The Allagash was my first major trip in 1981 when I was a complete tyro---made it though fine although I would suggest going with at least one person in your party who has done it before. The AMC Canoe Guide to Maine contains an excellent blow by blow desciption of the trip. Have fun

If you paddle
the Allagash you might considered renting a longer canoe—I did most of my trips with an OT Tripper—there are outfitters in Allagash, St. Francis and elsewhere where you can rent one.

you can have a blast
with a little canoe… Unless of course you are carrying beach chairs and grills. I have seen alot of what I consider extraneous stuff on the river.

Including Europeans who have no shame…

If you are soloing stick with 15 foot or less…I use a 13 foot boat. But I travel light.

I Think
I would end up having to rent since I would not solo. But all these responses about the Allagash have got me wondering. Is an Allagash really a wilderness trip. Its seems like everyone from the Northeast has made it up there at least once. My idea of the wilderness is where you don’t see anyone except for maybe a ranger and 1 or 2 paddlers.

Wilderness theme park
The Allagash comes under the heading of what I call a wilderness theme park. Not true wilderness. Campsites are all designated, tables and fire pits included. Anywhere along the trip you may hear logging trucks along with the call of the loons. Go in July-August and you will see other paddlers but unlikely it will be ‘crowded’ as it has been in years past. Go late September or October and you’ll at least seem to have the place to yourself.

That being said, it’s a great place to break into wilderness trekking. It has a nice wilderness feel to it. As a bonus, you can screw up pretty badly there and still make it out, you’re rarely more than a mile or two from a logging road and there are rangers that patrol the waterway. So if you forget to tie up your boat one night and find in the morning the wind blew it into the river and it’s gone you’ll still make it out. Gives you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Same thing can’t be said of a true wilderness trek, like running the Thelon up in the Canadian barrens. Make a mistake up there and there you’ll stay. Forever.

If you rent a boat (probably a good idea) and will also need your vehicle shuttled, (shuttle is about $200) then add cost of food, etc you’re looking at pretty close to what a guided trip would cost. If you’re unsure of your skills you might want to look into that for your first thru paddle. There are guides that offer various runs from the whole waterway to just running the river.

it is and it isn’t
River use on the allagash has gone down from 15000 paddlers a year to 5000 so there are a lot less people using it—also access to the river and lakes is very limited so you won’t see many if any day trippers—finally there are only about three cottages(called camps here in Maine) and three ranger stations in the approx 100 miles of the lakes and river etc—but it is a patrolled water way and a popular trip so you may see others. I think it is probably all the wilderness that you would care to see at this stage of your paddling carreer.

The Assabet River has some quickwater in West Concord and some easy class II in downtown Maynard.

The Nashua River between Leominster and Lancaster has quickwater to class I. There’s more quick water from Pepperel to Hollis NH.

The Charles River in Dover has quickwater.

The Squanacook in Groton has a class I rapid.

The Quabog in Warren has a nice class II section. Take out before the Mouse Hole Rapid (cl III).

The Deerfield in Charlemont has lots of easy class II. Gets pretty busy when the weather is nice.