NFCT lakes vs slow rivers vs rapids

I’m getting no bites on reddit so asking here:

Does anyone have an estimate the number of miles (or percentage) the NFCT is of Lakes vs. Slow/flat rivers vs. Class I or greater rapids? Can’t find anything that hints to it.

I’m thinking of doing parts in a 14ft generalist touring kayak and curious as to the water make-up.


I don’t have the numbers you are after, but I think the reason few use kayaks on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail is the portages. Canoes are easier to portage.

There are some videos out there of the trail that may help you with your answer, such as:

Gotcha. Ill be sectioning it…or really more “picking out a section and doing that one weekend. Then picking out another random section and doing that another weekend”. So i can make it so i end at the big portages.

Honestly i like the idea of canoing it too… just seems right. But i likely am buying kayaks instead and i hate canoes in wind anyway.

I have only done some sections and studied the rest. Just off the top of my head I would say that at least 85% is either flat or slow moving water. The maps sold by NFCT clearly show the rapids and much more useful info. Well worth the price.


Thanks! I’ll likely be getting the maps. But boats first :wink:

the make up of the NFCT varies with each section. I guess if I were going to characterize it based on what I’ve done thus far (parts of NY and ME) I’d say 10% ww. On the Old Forge to Racquette Lake section I used my poly madriver adventurer canoe and two sets of portage wheels. The tandem canoe seemed to work well for section 1.

from Racquette Lake I paddled in a different madriver canoe- a courier I think (buddy’s boat)

no portage wheels- Racquette Falls was a workout and would be hard to do going up with wheels.
A year or two later my nephew and I paddled old school ww kayaks (perception mirage) and crossover kayak (LL XP). that was a bit tedious but skipped several portages.
I guess I’ve done about 3/4 of the route in Maine. All done many years ago with the boyscouts. We used aluminum and abs boats (old town trippers, discovery).

It was all good. WW boats aren’t my first choice for the NFCT but on that trip I was paddling other stuff as well so we made the ww boats work…and I don’t remember portaging much.

Thanks for that info, and awesome pics!