I’m a novice paddler. Looking to take a trip with a friend who is pretty experienced. We’ve taken a trip (7-10 days) every year for the past five years, mainly backpacking and rock climbing. We’ve always taken off to remote areas to accomplish our goals, but it’s sometimes nice to enter the realm of civilization for a variety of reasons.
Anyways, my thought was that there has to be a river paddle that would include the best of both worlds. Ideally, there would be a paddle that where a long day of paddling in peaceful solitude would end with a beer and a burger.
If nothing else, we’ll head to the boundary waters, but this idea has entered my head and will only leave when someone tells me this idyllic adventure doesn’t exist.
So, if any of you has experienced such a river, then I’d love to hear about.
Susquehanna Water Trail
You might want to check into the West Branch Susquehanna River Water Trail in the mountains of north central Pennsylvania. Beautiful country -- 228 miles through deep wooded canyons, but there are little towns and crossroads along the way where you can haul out and hit a country bar.
The Lumbermans' Heritage Assocation makes a set of waterproof maps for $20 with all aspects of the route identified (launch areas, dam portages, places to camp, etc.)
There are a few outfitters who will help you with shuttles, or, with two vehicles (if you want to keep your car near camp every night), you can leap-frog relay the second car from the put-in to the next destination every night, since there are roads that follow the route all the way.
Along the route if you keep the cars with you, you could also drive up to the head of Red Moshannon Creek, a 57 mile feeder to the West Branch which has a fun fast-flowing run with open class 1 and 2 rapids to the big river. As long as the gauges are high enough it can be done with a regular canoe or touring kayaks. I've done about a third of the West Branch (my ex-boyfriend lives along it near Clearfield) and the lower half of the Red Mo -- two of my favorite paddles in that region.
The Green. You bring the beer and the burger and a fire pan.
An MTB loop road runs W-E over the mtn north of the river then down the Dolores packrafting to the MTB starting point.
With beer both ends.
There would be a description herein somewhere…
Come to Michigan
You can find lots of opportunities for day paddles with a good bar for a beer & burger near the end. You can put together multi-days as well. Check out some of Doc Fletcher’s books:
(The Rivers, the Towns The Taverns)
If you are in range, come up for the Quiet Water Symposium on March 1st. Doc will be speaking there along with many other speakers and exhibitors.
They are all over the place
One of our favorites is the Suwannee from Fargo, Georgia to White Springs Florida.
As much as I like the “fat burger” at the end, I’ll pass on the beer
Mention the section of the country you want to paddle in, and I’ll bet you get a lot of good responses.
Where do live and how far do you want to go? Lots of nice little rivers that might fit the bill. The Big Fork river in Northern MN comes to mind. Nice paddle with some light whitewater and only a couple portages. You’ll go through two small towns a few days apart (pop. 500 or less) where you can stop for a burger and beer. Take out anywhere along the line or all the way to the Canadian border.
Big Fork ?
Don’t have a specific place in mind.
Just an idea. I suppose if I were driving, I’d say somewhere in the 800-1000 mile range max, that’s from Minneapolis.
If I were flying, well just about anywhere.
I’ve paddled in the boundary waters, and of course that’s an amazing place, but it’s always fun to see another part of the country.
I once hiked 80 miles in the back country of Smoky Mountain National park, then left to the tune of thousands of people lined up the road waiting to take a short jaunt. Thousands and thousands more back in Gatlinburg. Great to see so many people coming to nature, and in contrast, seeing so few for the 80 miles we walked.
Nature is closer than we think, yet we only see a glimpse of what it really is.
More importantly, I would need to figure out the best way to outfit a trip, regardless of where we go.
The Raquette River in the Adirondacks flows through wilderness areas, as well as some built up areas where you can stop for a burger and beer.
the French Broad River in Asheville, NC
and the Lumber River from Lumberton, NC to Nichols, SC
A river you can do a week long trip on, with each day spent paddling in wilderness solitude, and each day ending at an access point within easy walking distance of a pub serving great burgers and cold craft beer.
Sounds good. Let me know when you find it.
Of the places I have paddled maybe the Adirondacks would come closest.
Personally, I would bring the beer and plan to cook the burgers. Check out the Buffalo National River in the Arkansas Ozarks. You are unlikely to experience solitude in the upper stretches if there is sufficient water there, but the access points on the lower river become fewer and more widely spaced and you will see fewer people (probably).
The river is incredibly scenic and requires only basic water reading and moving water boat control experience. If one member of a tandem team is experienced I would not expect any great difficulty.
Henderson, Arkansas (a convenient river access town) is about 12 hrs and 725 miles more or less due south of the Twin Cities.
Distance from Minneapolis to the start of the West Branch Susquehanna Water Trail is 942 miles. Some other paddles in Eastern PA on the way there would be French Creek, the Clarion River and Redbank Creek (this one only navigable in a season with decent rain.)
Some videos of the WBSWT if you want a sense of what it's like: