?s for anyone who's done the Allagash...

Ok, I have questions…Many many questions…Because Lord knows I love to be not just prepared, but overly prepared and have to know what to expect! I figure rather than type out a jumbled novel as I often do, it’d be easier for anyone who’s nice enough to reply if I just put my questions one by one…Maybe with a comment or two after each, heehee…So here goes…

My first question is…When is a better time to go…I at first wanted Aug. when the kids, mainly Boyscouts, would be going back to school as to make my chances for a site easier…Then I heard that the water gets low, so low that I may be doing some walking and no thanks to that one…So I then asked a shuttle guy I found what he thought and he said, mid July believe it or not is less busy as everyone is on vaca the week before and the week after, as in first week of July and last week of July and then not so much in the middle…So I pretty much decided on then…But now I’m hearing beginning of Aug., will of course be less busy and actually the water isn’t that low at that time…Not to mention, it’s warmer in Aug., the days, the nights, the water temp, correct? Aug., usually warmer? And how about rainwise…Does anyone have an opinion on, I mean yeah ok, weather is weather and anything can happen at any time but does anyone notice if it rains more mid July or the beginning of Aug.? Or how about the waves on Eagle Lake…Is there more wind and bigger waves in mid July over the beginning of Aug.? Or Aug. worse? Or about the same really? So my question, really how much of a difference is there between mid July and the beginning of Aug.?

Second…Chase Rapids…They close the dam at Noon everyday…Just what does that mean? It’s not so rapidy after Noon? So if I come by about 1ish, I should be able to run them no prob at all? And now even more importantly…And I ask this because I’m a bit scared about the rapids…What time does the ranger station close because I may want to make sure I get there in time as to not have to run those rapids?

And what is this about the Telos put in that I am hearing about? I thought there was a 92 mile trip with a put in at Telos but on here I was informed that the put in is actually Chamberlin Bridge and something about “backtracking” to then make it a 98 mile trip…What’s that consist of actually and is it difficult/worth it?

Also…Floats…What’s the point of them and do I need one? I’m seeing a lot of lists that say I should have a float in the front of my kayak…Then I Googled and read something about floats are moreso needed when you are carrying nothing and your gearbags will act as floats, odd cuz I’d think just the op, that you’d need a float if you were packed all heavy but I don’t know anything about them and I otherwise have no intentions of getting one and I do need that room down in my kayak for my bear canister…So I would love any advice on that as well.

And one last thing…Money! I was a bit taken back with all the fees when I did my Penobscot trip and want to be ready for this one…I had like road fees and water fees every which way…I plan on making this a 9 day trip…So what’s that about? I’m seeing something about $5 a night to camp, Penobscot was $15 a night…So this one will be $5 a night then? And what are my other fees?

Which actually brings me to…I was planning this trip to be 9 days as I was hoping to also do the side trip into Allagash Lake…Now anybody been there? AND does that now mean that say, Aug., is warmer and you’d recommend doing then…But now that I said I’d like to add in Allagash Lake…Well does that mean that my trip now def needs to be done in July as I’m wondering if the water that I hear goes down come Aug., would then be too low on Allagash Stream to then do my side trip into Allagash Lake? OR would Aug. be better as maybe the current would be a little less difficult on my just over average girly arms?

Please don’t be afraid to overly explain…I love that and whereas most people follow along better to fewer words, as you can clearly see, I do not. Which always puzzled me as to how I can confuse people when I feel what I’m asking is so obvious, when I type and type and pretty much ask it 3 times over, heehee! So the more detailed explanation, as in wordy, the better!

Btw, if anyone has any pictures of their trip or even better, video…I would love a link!

And thank you so much in advance for any help!

dated info, but…
It has been 25 years since I paddled the Allagash, so my info about fees and ranfer stations is way out of date. I cand tell you it was a memorable trip and you shoulg definitely go.

Water levels vary from year to year, and in some years late season paddling is fine and others you wll have to drag your boat over some sections. Just call ahead well before you go so you know what to expect.

We had lots of wind on the big lakes, and it was a bit of a slog for a few days. We got a little behiind schedule here, but it was easy to make it up on the river section with a nice flow pushing us along.

I elected to have the ranger carry our gear and my girlfriend and I ran the rapids in an empty boat. It was no problem. We did portage aroung one small dam and of course around the falls.

The biggest expense I remember was the cost to have an outfitter drive out car and leave it for us.

Float baga do give you flotation, but that is not their primary purpse. They fill up the interior volume so that if you ship water, you get less in the boat. You will not need them on the Allagash.

Well that was some more that I did not already know, so thanks!

July or August…

– Last Updated: Mar-07-10 12:09 AM EST –

Both months can be fickle. Know this won't answer many questions, but I'd try to remain flexible as long as you can, IF you can...
and keep checking water levels/reports...etc.


Nope, I have to book it soonish…
…due to friends work schedules, ugh. And I’m very indecisive and just want to choose the best! And I just don’t know…Mid July…Beginning of Aug., it’s really tough!

August may be low, but I have also seen them close the river due to flooding in August. Watch the gauge at the end of the Allagash. I seem to recall a level of about 1500 cfs is minimum level to avoid a drag, but can’t find my notes.

You can encounter wind on the lakes any time.

How do you intend to get to Allagash lake - long carry of kayak or upstream paddle, drag, carry on Allagash Stream?

Telos put in is at Chamberlain Bridge, nice parking here and Ranger Station. Then paddle up Chamberlain, carry to Eagle, paddle to Churchill and dam at Chase Rapids. Watch for trains.

dont over think this
just pick a time that is convenient to you.

I live in Maine and run the Allagash every year. Last year it rained all June and July.

The year before in August the water level was at record high. 22000 cfs. Not runnable. Its very hard to stop after 3500 cfs. You can overshoot your campsite.

Eagle Lake is irregular.While its large it has islands for some shelter. Chamberlain does not. Thats going to be your bigger challenge.

Due to construction at Lock Dam, no water is going down the creek. Usually LD is a virtual liftover with a port 0f 30 yards. At the end of Oct we camped at the dam and noticed huge hoses dropping Chamberlain to expose the dam. While some work may have been done in the winter it might not be finished and Chamberlain still be low.

We have had some strange weather this year and are in a snow drought. Perhaps this will be another interminable summer of rain and rain.

good envelope to go…
Your MID-July to August is fine…imho. Don’t worry…for any summer of close to normal water levels you’ll be fine anywhere in there.

August 2008
was certainly not dry when I was there… it rained hard every night but weather during the day was pretty good. attached is a chart we made of the gauge readings. we did overshoot one intended campsite, ended up at Five Fingers then got flooded out at 4 in the morning. we ended up spending 2 nights at Michaud Farm because the river was too crazy to let paddlers down to the portage at the falls, and the road in was flooded.

Have you done any mild whitewater? I would suggest running Chase Rapids in the morning during the release, it was a lot of fun, and preferable to scraping over rocks in low water. We hit it about 8:30 in the morning and had the ranger drive our packs down.

We did encounter some challenging wind, fog and waves on Churchill lake, but that turned out to be fun too.

Bugs weren’t bad at all… mosquitoes and noseeums pesky in spots, but overall much better than I had expected.

as far as fees I thought they were pretty reasonable.

it was a helluva trip and we plan to go again… at the end of the river, make sure to stop at the Two Rivers Lunch diner in Allagash for a victory meal. :slight_smile:

First off find and couple books Allagash and The Allagash Guide by Gil Gilpatrick. Both have a lot of info and history in them. Google Gil, he has a site that you can buy the books.

We’ve been on the lower Allagash the past three years. We go the last week in June, not a lot of people there at that time and only once not got the campsite we planned to stay at

Churchill Dam opens at 0800 and we were told to wait an hour for the river to fill. Tip: don’t send all your gear down to Bissonette Bridge with the Ranger. Save the most water proof gear as ballast. An empty canoe paddles a WHOLE lot different then one with some weight in it. You don’t need no stink’n Floats.

‘Line’ Long Lake Dam on the left, don’t carry to the right

The Best Maps are “The Northern Forest Canoe Trail” maps # 12 & 13.

If you want to do Telos AND Allagash Lake it’s going to be tough to get down the full length in 9 days.

I’m headed back up to do the upper Allagash and Allagash Lake in Aug. I’m hoping to start at Longley bridge and drop down into Chesuncook Lake, up to Caucomgomuc Lake and carry north into Allagash Lake, down Allagash Stream and back up Chamberlain to Mud Pond and Umazooksus.

One last tip: Aroostook County holds the record for the most orchids species in a single county in the NE, and 2 are found nowhere else in NE, so keep an eye out for them. That the reason I’m going in Aug, the lower Allagash Stream supposedly has Large Purple Fringe Orchid on it.

I can’t believe I didn’t even notice that you guys were responding, heehee I thought the “Pharaohess” was the last person who posted, hahaha, oh I’m crazy. Anyhoo…All great info and I appreciate it!

Now questions and comments I still have…

First, I have Gil’s book and map…AND I even e-mailed him and found out a few things from him, love Gil!

Second…Getting into Allagash Lake…Just how many options do I have there and what are they? And I keep thinking, damn that it’s not right on my way as I can see on the map that I have to kayak over a bit, not sure on just how much that is for distance, just to see if I can get into the stream or not. But I also read something about a portage…What’s that consist of?

Third…I’ve decided, esp if I only have 9 days not to do this “backtracking” to Telos, unless, well just what am I missing out on if I don’t? Is Telos really that awesome that it’s worth, what is it 6 miles of backtracking?

Also, I am hearing that Chamberlain Lake is going to be very scary and that you can even get stuck on it at the beginning before even setting out for 2 days! I even heard the word, “ocean” in there when describing that lake and well, I don’t think I’d like that…Esp when yeah it doesn’t have those islands and I read some guys blog about the shore all of a sudden disappearing and then he was stuck in the middle of that enormous lake and with major winds and ocean like waves and that would not be good at all! So now my question…If I put in at Indian Stream or Chamberlain Bridge, both bypass Chamberlain Lake right? And just which one takes less out of my trip? I’d still like to make it as long as I can. So bypassing Chamberlain Lake removes how many miles of my trip? And putting in at Chamberlain Bridge, I am doing the lake or not doing the lake? So if that is still doing the lake, then to bypass the lake, my put in option is then Indian Stream? And if I do bypass Chamberlain Lake, well same question as with Telos, am I missing out on anything fantastic? I’m not sure, cuz I feel obviously the prettiest most scenic bits of my trip will be on the river.

I’m trying to answer these in order, so I see that now, Chamberlain Bridge put in and I am doing Chamberlain Lake…Again, I’d love advice on that if I should take it on or not bother, again if it’s too scary AND there’s really no nice scenery and what not, then it’s def not worth the scariness of it. So guess that’s my question, is Chamberlain Lake a site to see…Is it scenic? And I don’t just mean in the, everything is scenic kind of way, but if there’s much to be seen on it, major wildlife and beautiful coves, stuff like that, I’d like to know if I’d be missing out on anything or if it’s just a boring huge lake where all I see is water and ugh, more water?!

Also, the only experience I have with white water, is last year I did the Penobscot and since it had rained so much there were rapids on it, whatever class they were, but I did them and I lived…But they were like, 2 minutes here, 3 there…Not a full 9 miles in a row, that I know I would not like at all. I’m not going to do Chase Rapids…I’m not a big risk taker, yeah I prbly could do it no prob…But given the op to take a truck around them AND with it only being 10 bucks, yeah I am def doing that instead!

And that’s my experience with major waves too…After the Penobscot I went into the Chesuncook and I also survived that…I was scared though and put my feet out and off to the sides of my kayak and that really helped ease my mind!

And what’s this about trains? I’ll be hauling my kayak over active railroad tracks? Or did you mean the old ones to see? Which brings me to, just which part of Eagle Lake are those things on? Like say, there’s major waves on Eagle Lake and I cannot get out to one of the islands, is that where the trains are so I’d really have to fight waves if I want to see them bad enough? Seriously, I do not know why I cannot find this stuff online, where exactly things are, like ok, I enter Eagle Lake, now where are the trains? How do I get to the trains? And IF I decided to make my put in Indian Stream, well that goes right into Eagle Lake so not like I’d then, by using that put in, miss out on the trains then, correct?

And ok so when I get to Long Lake Dam, take out and walk the kayaks down on the LEFT?! But to get out of the rapids before Allagash Falls as to not go over said falls, I go to the RIGHT? Correct? Writing all this down!

I hope I see orchids!

Btw, we’re doing kayaks.

And Two Rivers Diner…Got it! And def going to stop there! Thanks!

Here’s something I’m very curious about
Just about how long does it take to get from Chamberlain Bridge to Lock Dam? Just trying to see if I could do that all in one day. I read that you can cover about 4 miles every 2 hours, so with that, the 4 miles every 2 hours, if that’s correct and I honestly don’t even know what I have done but I do know I have done 20 something miles in one day and it was like 6 hours or so of paddling…So with strong winds and waves aside, lets say it’s not a bad day on Chamberlain Lake, about how many hours does it take the average person to go from the bridge to Lock Dam? And in viewing the map, I see if I stay right, then I do not end up in the middle of the huge lake like that other guy blogged about.

And I’ve been looking over the map, so Lock Dam is where I stop and walk my kayak over to get into Eagle Lake, correct? And Indian Stream, even though it’s not on my map, is prbly the little blue squiggly line that goes from Indian Pond to Eagle Lake? And I see where the trains are, off to the left there so I’ll be able to make those. But I did note, that if I were to start at Indian Stream, then my trip into Allagash Lake is then def a no go, unless I go over Lock Dam the other way, but well I’d hate to do that only to find that the Stream is impossible to get through. I’m hoping and assuming that I can just ask my shuttle guy and anyone else I find, like a ranger at the check in, how the stream is and if I can add it to my trip or not…So I guess, if that’s an option, then that’s how I’ll leave that…As just see how they say it is when I get there. And see how Chamberlain Lake is as well, when I get there and then decide if I should be put in there or not…And if not, then the next one up is Indian Stream, correct? Or if Allagash Stream is passable but Chamberlain Lake looks too scary and I’d prefer to not do that one…Well then, I don’t want my put in to be Indian Stream or I’ll miss out on Allagash Lake, correct? So as to still be able to do Allagash Lake but bypass Chamberlain Lake, what is then my put in option? Is there another on this side of Lock Dam?

Indian Stream
is an awesome place to put in, but it takes quite a while to get there on a bumpy road (if you could call it a road). yes it’s the squiggly line between Indian Pond & Eagle Lake.

the abandoned locomotives aren’t visible from the water, so make sure you know a couple clues to finding them. if you have a good chart, taking a bearing off the nearby island will tell you where to look.

I didn’t find Chase Rapids to be much of a risk; we took our teenage boys through there and they handled it fine. a nice change of pace after paddling the lakes. the waves on the big lakes were more of a challenge than the rapids.

we used the campsite on the right of Long Lake Dam where the portage trail is, it was a great spot to enjoy the sound and sight of the rushing water. there’s a swimming hole/eddy below it, wear your PFD and you’ll float around in a big circle.

the whole trip is beautiful but the most scenic spot IMO was Round Pond (which isn’t round at all??), the last wide part of the river section. there’s a firetower there on the Eastern bank, I hear the panorama is worth the hike and I regret we didn’t go up there.

Right now…
I’m trying to figure out a plan b if needed…I figure I’ll get there and then decide on Chamberlain Lake with how the weather is. I have def decided not to backtrack into Telos, I hate backtracking. And I have decided, IF Allagash Stream is a def and correct me if I am wrong, but I am hoping that I will be able to find out if it’s doable or not the day I arrive along with when I find out about Chamberlain Lake…Cuz I would much rather spend 2 days hanging around and exploring the overly worth it Allagash Lake than waiting on Chamberlain Lake for waves and wind to subside, esp if I only have 9 days to do this, then I def would rather spend those days on Allagash Lake. And btw, what are the details of Chamberlain? As in, what’s to be expected and moreso seen on it…Is it moreso worth the aggravation and chance you take to paddle it? Or just forget about Chamberlain esp since I only have 9 days and would much rather spend time in Allagash Lake anyways? And I def need to know more about my getting into Allagash Lake options…I have a dolly, but just what does this portage into it consist of if the stream is not doable? Which brings me to, if I do put in at Indian Stream, well I can still do Allagash Lake, just head over the op way on Long Lake Dam? Or is there another put in somewhere inbetween Chamberlain Lake and Indian Stream, preferrably on the same side of the dam that Allagash Lake is on…Or just how close can I be shuttled to Allagash Lake…There’s still no road to it right? Or if so, can I just be shuttled now right to Allagash Lake and just start my trip there? I think I’d love that if that or anything close to it is an option!

Pick a route
You are not held to Lock Dam. You can proceed up Chamberlain and carry to Eagle at the Tram/Trains. You can also do Indian Stream or Lock Dam to Eagle and then carry at the Tram over to Allagash Stream.

Indian Stream can also be a drag that time of year or a quickly moving, tightly turning, torrent. It is a short run though.

There is a gated road carry into Allagash Lake from the other Round Pond(Ciss Stream Area). An outfitter could leave you there too.

Decide on a route. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Johnson Pond Put-in and Allagash tips
and the Upper Allagash Stream into Allagash Lake. I don’t know anything about it but heard they use it.

Then you can skip most of Chamberlain be there for the for the locomotives. Once you drop into Eagle Lake if you have the time paddle east and on the peninsula below the Smith Brk Campsite there’s supposed to be 130’ White Pines.

Don’t forget to stop at the museum at Churchill Dam Potable water available.

Chase isn’t bad just take some ballast with you.

If your running late after Chase, stay at Chisholm Brk Site. At dusk you can paddle the back water there Moose hunting. We saw 6 there the night we did it.

You can Line over Long Lake Dam on the right or Carry to the left. There’s an old Wagon like the on at Churchill is up in the woods.

The “water” at Round Pond isn’t. We’re looking at feeder streams above the pond this year for our water.

Cunliffe Depot the two Lombard Loghaulers are worth a stop, Look for a put-in above the campsite on the left and follow the path.

Water there is good.

Michuad Farm is a Ranger checkin point, with potable water.

Allagash Falls a great place to stay but arrive early it’s also a favorite. At your check in the ranger should know if there’s going to be room.

If your ahead of schedule consider spending the last night at Twin Brk and Paddling the St John down to St Francis to Pelletier’s Camp ground. Norm is a great guy and an excellent outfitter. He also can get you into Johnson Pond.



Part one of three videos of Chase rapids.

Get the NFCT maps as well as thier new guidebook, it has lots of information about logistics as well as fairly detailed descriptions of the trip. The NFCT has a lot of information on the trip planner on thier site.

This is all great stuff!!!
And again thank you all! I was sad earlier today as my hopes of that back way into Allagash Lake are not looking good, something about a 3 mile portage and not sure if it’ll take a long time but a friend kinda poo poo’d it. Then I keep hearing about “poling” and ugh I just cannot get into this lake! And I def want to do Allagash Lake…ESP if I’m not doing Chamberlain…And then I won’t feel bad about losing Chamberlain. So now tell me about this new portage route from the tram area? How far of a walk is that? It’s got to be better than the 3 miles of the back way…PLUS this sounds easier and better and like it won’t kill too much time as the back way in would…So I’m thinking and let me know if this plan will not work…But how about, I get dropped off at Indian Stream, cuz there’s no other place correct? So my only option is really Indian Stream, then I go left and go over that dam, and Allagash Stream is there but if it’s not doable then the portage is there…OR do I need to decide right off as if I go through all that work just to find out the stream is not doable, then I need to backtrack to that portage cuz the portage is actually on Eagle Lake through there? So maybe, I could ask when I get there, hey how’s Allagash Stream and if they say, doable, then I head over that dam from Indian Stream…If they say, not doable, I then do that portage which is where exactly, behind the trains on Eagle Lake? And is it easy to find? It’d be nice if the portage and the stream were side by side so I could decide on either in the same spot…But it’ll be kinda nice too if I can at the least find out ahead of time if the stream is doable…And if you think that doesn’t happen, let me know…As in, if they won’t know ahead of time about the stream to let me know…So then if they can’t tip me off to if that stream is runnable or not…Then what’s your advice, not go out of my way to chance it jsut to find I can’t get through that stream way and just do that portage then? I’m excited again as this may work, this may be a way in to that lake!

I say Indian Stream is my only option in order to be close to Allagash Lake and at the same time avoid Chamberlain…That’s why I’m under the impression that my only option really is Indian Stream. And again, please correct me if I am wrong.


– Last Updated: Mar-11-10 8:53 PM EST –

According to my map...There's a road that goes right over Allagash Stream...Why can I not just take this road and be dropped off there? And then if I have to walk it, I walk as was prbly my plan anyways...Well it's my plan if the portage from the trains/tram, wherever it is, way is too far.