Multi-day trip suggestions?

I would welcome suggestions for summertime canoe camping trips 3 to 7 days long in northern US or Canada. Here’s the thing: we’re in our 60s and don’t want to/can’t portage. We’re short, rather ordinary women except that we love living outdoors. We’re not fond of fast-moving water, so would prefer nothing above Class 1. I would say big, wide-open lakes would not be our first choice either. (I suggested Great Slave Lake but was overruled!). Lest we sound dreary, no, we’re not! We love canoe camping, and we’re good at it. But we have come close to our limits on a couple of trips: Bowron Lakes (BC), pushing a canoe cart over portages totaling 6 miles and wearing portage packs, and Shoshone Lake (Yellowstone) with big winds. We really need to relax in a beautiful place and, ideally, escape July temperatures at home in NC. (I’d rather go in Sept but that is out of the question till my canoe partner retires.) we almost gave the upper Missouri a whirl this summer while out west but decided it would be too hot and we’d save it for a future Sept.

So what say you northern paddlers? Any suggestions for quiet lakes or rivers for me? Thank you!


– Last Updated: Sep-24-14 11:23 AM EST –

Your best bet would be big slow rivers.
I like the upper Missouri in Montana, 151 miles from Ft Benton to Kipp Bridge.
Maybe the upper Mississippi.
Ontario might be the obvious answer for people living in the Midwest as others have suggested.

sooo many…
start in the go paddling section here and look over water trails,or the launch site maps.just off the top of my head… delaware river , conneticut, allagash,Sacco, the adirondaks, the thousand islands, algonquin park, boundry waters,an on…

Maine and New York have a LOT

– Last Updated: Sep-23-14 2:43 PM EST –

of choices without a lot of driving for you.

West Branch of the Penobscot above Ripogenus Dam including a side trip to Lobster Lake. No portages and 45 miles. Does have a two mile wide 20 mile long lake but if you have time you can wait for it to be in a good mood.

Flagstaff Lake Maine is another
Umbagog Lake NH.
Allagash River has moving water perhaps a little quicker than you would like. But it has a lovely lake section too.. A round trip would be 75 miles. One portage and some lining.. the portage is only 100 feet long

Lows Lake in the Adirondacks loop.. one short level cartable portage 200 feet long. Lows is some 15 miles long Then move a short distance by car to Second Pond and put in on Lower Saranac Lake.. Many islands LSL is about eight miles long.. connected to Middle Saranac by a human powered lock.

The nice thing about Northern NY and Maine is that July temperatures rarely top 80.

There are plenty of top notch destinations in southern Ontario..

Voyageurs National Park
Like the BWCAW but without the portages.

PA and Ontario suggestions

– Last Updated: Sep-23-14 2:00 PM EST –

It's a little different from the usual wilderness river, but the Rideau Canal between Ottawa and Kingston is a fascinating float, a little like a "Rails to Trails" bikeway only on the water. There are quite a few locks on it, some of the small ones still operating with their 19th century hand cranked gates -- no portaging, you just float through. It is a fairly narrow stream with a mix of rural and semi-urban scenery along the shore. I've paddled parts of it with the Kingston based Cataraqui Canoe Club, most of whose active members are in their 50's through 70's (they welcome non-members on their trips, by the way, and are a great bunch of folks and top notch paddlers). A bit north of Kingston, in Frontenac Provincial Park, are some lakes with campsites only available to paddlers.

The Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania is a lovely long river with many nice stretches. You can get the excellent West Branch Susquehanna River Water Trail map from the Lumber Heritage Foundation. There are 228 miles to choose from on the West Branch, which winds through deep wooded canyons, with lots of camping options along it. There are outfitters with whom you could arrange shuttles, if needed.

Actually, Pennsylvania is said to have more miles of navigable rivers and streams than any state other than Alaska. The Paddling Pennsylvania guidebook has information on many of the major ones, with maps to put ins, recommended gauge levels and descriptions of routes. Here in Western Pa we have big slow rivers like the Allegheny and Monongahela and smaller, faster streams with very mild rapids like the lower Youghiogheny, the Beaver River, the Conemaugh and Red Mahoning and Tionesta Creeks.

You can contact me via my profile here if you ever want to talk about options for visiting/paddling PA. I also sent you an email via your profile with contact info.

Manistee River in Northern MI

– Last Updated: Sep-23-14 2:19 PM EST –

Here's a trip report from a mere segment of the river:

Two or three dam portages from this trip, and you can be in Manistee on Lake MI.

Crowsnest Pass, Alberta
We have summered in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta to escape from north Florida’s summer heat and humidity. In the last 3 years we have traveled to and from there with our Yakima trailer with 2 kayaks (our river kayaks are kept in Canada). If you like to tent camp, there are Alberta Provincial camp sites, but I would recommend rather that you consider a summer rental for 1 week or 2 (try googling summer house rentals with location and you will get a number of privately rentable homes for 1 week or more). The Lost Lemon Campground in Blairmore has cabins. From the municipality of Crowsnest Pass (towns of Coleman, Blairmore, Frank, Hillcrest and Bellevue) you can paddle the following locations: 1) Summit Lake just at the BC border (2 mile lovely little lake, protected from winds which come through the Pass), Crowsnest Lake (a more strenuous lake, about 10 minutes from Coleman – about 5 miles plus around the lake – with whitecaps when the winds are blowing, but a beautiful lake to paddle), Crowsnest River (from the Lundbreck to first take out class 1 and 2 rapids, about 15 minutes from the municipality), Lee Lake (about the same distance, another small lake with homes around one side of the lake, about 3 miles and usually protected). Within a half an hour drive you have two very lovely provincial lakes, Beauvais and Beaver Mines Lake. Both are about 3-5 miles around depending on how closely you adhere to the shore-line. Both are located on the lee side of the Rockies, as are the other lakes mentioned and usually have stronger winds in the afternoons coming off the mountains. Beauvais is a nesting ground for waterfowl and a section is closed until July 10 – you will see swans, loons, ducks, geese, osprey and bald and golden eagles depending on month and may be fortunate to see beavers, muskrats and other creatures. You cannot miss Cameron Lake in Waterton, the only lake which requires a fee ($6.50 for seniors to get into the Canadian extension of Glacier National Park). Cameron Lake is protected on all sides by mountains and there are usually glaciers and/or waterfalls on the far end. You will see marmots and if fortunate pikas. Lower Waterton Lake may be more challenging when the wind is blowing, but lovely. The other larger lakes in Waterton have too many motorized craft for us to recommend (we prefer more pristine paddling locations). Maskinonge is right next to Waterton, just cross the bridge to the south and turn right – no fee – is another area which is protected by the winds, shallow.In that area are two other lakes which, if you have time, you may wish to explore: Police Outpost Lake (once a RCMP outpost to prevent American smugglers of spirits into the Canadian territories – with only 2 mounted police to guard the Montana/eastern Alberta border)and Payne Lake, perhaps the longest of the lakes mentioned with squalls possible, but a reward at the end of the lake past the rushes where a lovely creek descends from the mountains. Except for Waterton all paddling venues are free, Alberta does not charge a provincial park fee. The weather is dry and cool and the communities have summer festivals. Flumerfelt Park in Coleman has a 1 mile hike to cooling falls – beautiful place to lunch. If you need more paddling ideas – we like Slocan Lake are in New Denver,BC, but it is a 32 mile lake subject to squalls.

We’re returning home, after paddling the North Platte and a lake in the Medicine Bow National Forest and headed to the Current for additional days of tent camping and paddling. E-mail for more information, but won’t have access to wi-fi there. We’ve done Voyageurs, Superior National Forest and other places mentioned, if you’d like our evaluation of these places.

We did Superior in June – 1 week, but without the portages. We camped at East Bearskin (their sleeping cabin with the screened porch – the mosquitoes were terrible this year) and paddled the lakes along the Flintlock Trail from Grand Marais. We much prefer (for paddles without portages) this area to Ely where we paddled last year. There are lakes which are part of the BWCA (day permits necessary)and depending on high water, some portages may not be necessary. We would not recommend some of the lakes off Flintlock Trail because of motor boat traffic, but there are so many choices, we have a list of lakes we would like to paddle if we return.

Last September we did Voyageur’s Kabetogama Lake - the camp sites were beautiful, but it was probably the most challenging lake conditions we have ever experienced with winds blowing 15-20 mph the fetch and cross waves (in kayaks, skirts on) challenged our equanimity and balance. We were told that July is an easier paddle.

missouri breaks montana most scenic
Arguably the most scenic 150-mile section of flat water in the country… Missouri Breaks National Monument from Ft. Benton to Kipp Bridge…7-10 days…scenic, historic, geologic wonder and more.

Here is a video…(Not mine) but shows you the area.

Upper Missouri Breaks
Yes, keep the Upper Missouri Breaks on your after retirement list. We did it two years ago – Coalbanks to Judith Landing in 1 1/2 days the last day the host was present at Coalbanks, September 14. It’s on our rivers to return to list – but we would do that section in 3 days and double the miles to Kip Recreation Area, further south. The map which the BLM produces is a bargain and gem – get it before you go. Plasticized – very good information. In a canoe you won’t have the problem with water we had – there is no potable water source along the route and we did not want to filter the Missouri’s water – hence the fast trip.

Last May it was 100 degrees

– Last Updated: Sep-23-14 7:04 PM EST –

with high water. Coal Banks to Kipp is 108 miles. It was a three day trip..partly because it was too hot..partly because of damage caused by last winters floods. The last day we covered 46 miles in 7 hours or so.

Pretty.. You have to do it once. But for us once was enough.

Cooler weather for us would have encouraged more hiking and exploring which is the real strength of this trip.

Thanks, all, for GREAT ideas!
I love it that spme suggestions are easily drivable from NC and others farther away. We need both kinds. Thanks so much!

My canoe partner asked me this summer on Shoshone Lake why my planned trips always brought us to the very edge of our abilities. We need slightly more relaxing trips! Lots of possibilities here.

PNetters are great. I’m in your debt.

G in NC

We usually try to stay helpful!
all the destinations are worthwhile. Sometimes driving time is the determining factor. If you have a short trip you might not want to spend more time on the road than in the canoe.

Budget. Its free in the Adirondacks to paddle and camp. Here are the North Maine Woods fees

If you go to Canada ( and I am not saying you should not) fees escalate. For Americans there is no free camping and Ontario Provincial Parks run upwards of $40 a night for car camping ( which you might need for one or more nigts) Backcountry fees will run you $10-16 a person a night.

biting insects

A factor. Filtering all suggestions for least insect activity and highest scenic level/flow…where do you go ?

The operative word in the North is not
to avoid but wear appropriate clothing. July is not the height of bug season anyway. If its rainy you can have skeeters . If that is a problem for you ask away here …we have lots of tips to share. Some of us live here year round and we aren’t masochists.

skeeters ?

– Last Updated: Sep-23-14 9:14 PM EST –

awww what's a few skeeters ? Well no, I lived in an area up north where skeeters were few and far..and no ticks.

Once in a blue moon a few black flies. But not 4 Gigabillion like on the Dewhurst.

O heck yes
we have a few now even. They have to breed you know and they have had a hard time with the cold wet summer.

The ladies are manageable. They are the only ones who seek blood.

horse flies
we have fish eating horse flies.

Silver with big green eyes about the size of a small bird.

The squadron, flies fly in formation, spots your picnic table, forms up then peels off, like a WW2 film, and dives onto the table, if you’re lucky, sit there and stare at you.

before jumping on your back sucking the spinal fluid out of your body.

Now, are you recommending paddling there to granny and friend ?

I second the Manistee
Also, there is the Pere Marquette near by. You can get three days on the AuSable with out a portage then do the South Branch for another 2 or three days. Also on the Ausable, the Damn portages are pretty easy. I recommend the Mio to Five Channels section as well. The Pine can also be done as a three day trip.