Northern Forest Canoe Trail Boat?

Considering a long NFCT adventure with a pal next year and wondering if my Wen Vag Kevlar Ultralight would survive the trip. This old dog would love its light weight for the portages and don’t mind banging it up a bit more and even patching it along the way, but worry about the potential of serious, irreparable, damage in the I-II rapids. Would line/portage around any III+. Have a great old 15’ RX Dagger Legend river runner but bit big & broad for solo work and much heavier to portage. Appreciate thoughts of those who have done one or more sections of the NFCT. Tks, Rick

Depends on water levels
The Allagash can get bony…A wrap of a UL most definitely would call for a repair kit (which would be a good idea to bring anyway)

You can avoid Chase Rapids either by walking or Ranger shuttle but the bony parts do not have a portage… Walking ought to be ok.

We have done the Allagash a couple of times in a Wenonah UL at which the outfitter just shook his head and said “You break zee boat”. Water levels were high enough we rode over all rocks… we ran at 1500 cfs.

NFCT boat

Do you know what sections you are thinking about paddling and at what time of year?

I have done lots of sections in a Wenonah ultralite but bought a royalex boat for some of the river sections. Given normal water sections there are some long stretches you could do in your canoe If you are planning on including the lower Saranac River, Missisquoi, Clyde, Lower Nulhegan, or Upper Ammonoosuc you should seriously consider royalex. The section from Old Forge to Union Falls, Errol to Rangeley, or Jackman to Chamberlain Lake and possibly to Fort Kent are do-able in a ultralite.

Buddy and I looking at late May next
year. Hoping to do about a months worth this trip. He’ll probably have a Pungo14 yak and I could borrow his wife’s. Could both use my RX 15’ Dagger Legend if we think we could “communicate” nicely :-). Worry about the weight of the Legend if I solo it when I have to tumpline or wheel it. Will have the ladies escorting and connecting with us every 4-6 days where nice lodgings avail for them :-). With limited WW experience we’ll probably be lining/portaging the II+ and bigger. Hoping to do the as much of the least populated & most attractive parts as practical. Wading through the book now and maps next. Really appreciate the guidance and ideas as this our first big adventure. Rick

a month on the NFCT
With a month you could do a huge section of the trail. Since you have support you might consider using your wives as a shuttle service and doing lots of the river sections going downstream. The Androscoggin, Missisquoi,Clyde,Connecticut,are all really nice and even more so if you can paddle with the current.

I have a Mohawk Royalite boat .
It has proven to be very tough and is about the weight of expedition kevlar.

Would a sailing rig be practical for
our boats for this adventure? A simple downwind rig or something more? Tks for the continued advice. Rick

Depends on how much you want to carry
If you happen to have the wind at your back, it is probably worth it. Otherwise, it is extra weight. Several of us have taken sail rigging on out NFCT adventures, but so far have only been able to use them once. Usually the wind is in our face.

If you are paddling tandem, use a sturdy golf umbrella. Doesn’t take much room, and has other uses on rainy days, and they usually are pretty good for downstream sailing while held by the bowman.


boat choice
I agree on the Mohawk UL royalex. 44 lbs and very tough. I have a 14’ Challenger (now the Odyssee) and it is a very good boat for tripping, up to class IIs. The 15’ Odyssee might be even better if you want more capacity and will be paddling lakes. It will not carry the speed of a WenUL, but I installed a foot brace, and on flat water sit-and-switch with bent shaft, and speed is not bad.

Downwind rig for tripping
An upwind rig has too much wieght and complexity.

Canoes and kayaks can almost always paddle into the wind faster than they can sail.

A lightweight downwind rig that goes up and down quick and easy could be useful on the lakes and larger rivers.

David Yost is rigging his StarFire
for sailing and travel on the NFCT( He is well aware of regs on the AWW).

Its been done in a Swifty. Attitude more than a specific piece of equipment will get you through.

Sounds like a simple DW sail would
be helpful, or maybe just a big umbrella rigged to the fwd thwart :-). Pics on link helped with outfitting ideas too. Not aware of any AWW “regs” though. No ref n the NFCT book I could find? Thanks for the continued guidance. Love all you can share :-). R

Thru-paddled in a kevlar wenonah Minn II
The water levels on the rivers were bony and I punched a hole in it on the Class 2 ledges in Plattsburg. (I can send you a photo, if interested.) Got it fixed in Burlington, VT at Canoe Imports and it lasted the rest of the trip. I really scuffed up the bottom and need to get the whole thing back in shape this spring. I had installed skid plates which I’m sure, saved me a lot more damage. Fast flowing, rocky rivers constantly kept me on edge–but it’s weight was totally worth it. I avoided anything over Class 2. Will depend on your water levels. The Allagash was running at spring levels (1700 cfs) when I passed through in August and it was a dream to run, although I did not run the Chase Rapids when the ranger said “I wouldn’t do it in a kevlar.” In hindsight, I don’t think it would have been much different than some of the other rapids you run farther downstream. Be prepared for your canoe to have more “character” afterwards.

Kayak vs. Canoe
I also have a 12’ Pungo Kayak and there’s no way I would have wanted to lug that thing over the portages. The canoe was superior in that regard.

Thanks for sharing the Kev experience,
repair source,and suggs. She already has “character” so more won’t hurt :-), and her much lighter weight should be a big plus for this old dog on the portages (than my optional old Rx Dagger Legend - that I could sleep in though :slight_smile: R

Sailing and the AWW
Yeah, the NFCT guidebook doesn’t mention it, but no sailing is permitted on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Your options would be just bringing it along in the boat (and hopefully it is not too heavy or cumbersome) or make arrangements for someone to retrieve it at Chesuncook, which is probably the last place you could use it.


The ports arent too arduous
to bar bringing a sail rig in AWW.

Going over Lock Dam is a short port. So is Long Lake Dam…(sometimes lineable) and Allagash Falls is cartable.

Just reef the thing. BTW I was talking to a friend Monday who sailed his rig on Allagash Lake. The ranger was cool with it. Seems that there is variance in ranger responses.

NFCT boat
I was present at the dedication of the Long Lake NFCT kiosk where a man that did the trail end to end solo spoke -I think he wrote a book-quite a story. He later,when he saw my roylex wildfire he said that was his first choice,but they wouldn’t donate one to him. He also said he would take a cart next time. He was speaking on one boat for the entire trip,a compromise choice.