Seeking Destination for Extended Canoe Trip July 2022

Thanks in advance.

We are in central Indiana and had planned a trip down the White River to the Wabash and on to the Ohio. We are now rethinking this plan due to the heavy industry/pollution along this route. Worst case, we will continue with this original plan and be stopping in towns to refill on clean water.

We have 18 days to do a trip and are considering spending time traveling to find cleaner water/more of a wilderness experience. We will be in 17-foot tripping canoes and are hoping for around 200 miles of river travel. Primary goals are clean water, good scenery, and riverside camping.

Anyone have a favorite east/northest/midwest river or water trail that you would recommend? Any/all suggestions are welcomed.

Best Regards,


suggest the buffalo river in arkansas and then continue on white river to get your desired mileage

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Have not been for many years but The Boundary Waters and Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario would be pretty high on my list for a extended canoe adventure. Not sure what permits are required now and how long it takes to get them.


It’s generally not river travel, but I would love to spend 18 days in the BWCA. You could also do a good portion of the NFCT in 18 days.

Northern Forest Canoe Trail is 740 miles long… 200 miles of it will take about 15 days in Maine. Put in at Jackman , down the Moose River , up Moosehead. Two mile long Northeast Carry down the West Branch of the Penobscot cross Chesuncook Lake and Umbazooksus lake… two mile long Mud Pond Carry . On to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Lots of history and no towns to speak of though Jackman has a small grocery store. Take out at Allagash Village or St Francis.

Its all wilderness and reservation free. There are some nominal fees for camping. We live near and do bits and pieces of it each year.

Water is all drinkable though there are lots of moose that crap so a filter is a good idea.


Boundary Waters/ Algonquin for lake country.
I would consider upper Michigan or Wisconsin for some good paddling rivers. I have only paddled the AuSable River in MI.
The Buffalo River in Ark is hard to beat at the right flows.

If you could put on the Buffalo National River in Arkansas at Ponca and paddle it to Buffalo City where it joins the White it would be about 126 miles. But the chances of having enough water in July to put in at Ponca are very poor. More likely you would need to put in at Gilbert or below and from Gilbert to Buffalo City is only about 55 miles.

The Current River in Missouri on the other hand has pretty reliable water year round from Cedargrove down. From Cedargrove to the confluence of the Current River with the Black River at Pocahontas is about 178 miles. If the water level was high enough to put on at Baptist Camp it would add another 6 1/2 miles or so.

The Current River isn’t what I would consider a wilderness experience, especially farther downstream, but it does offer abundant riverside camping opportunities and clean water, especially the upper and middle portions. But the Current does see a lot of rental traffic on July weekend days.

You really aren’t going to find much of a wilderness experience in the middle Midwest. If you are looking for that instead of limiting yourself to one river system you might consider paddling two or three different rivers in relatively close proximity over 18 days to get in 200 miles. You could for instance paddle some 82 miles of the Current River from Cedargrove to Big Spring over maybe 6 to 7 days, then paddle 31 miles on the nearby Eleven Point River from Greer Crossing to Myrtle access over several days, and finally relocate to the Buffalo National River to paddle whatever portion of it has sufficient water in July.

Another thought is the St Croix River in the northern Midwest. Some 155 miles of the St Croix below Gordon, Wisconsin are protected. But the very upper section of the St Croix has some pretty shallow stretches and some rapids which might be challenging in loaded 17 foot canoes. The lower St Croix can also have wide, shallow areas with significant headwinds in the Summer months.

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If you want a true wilderness experience, you want to get up to the Canadian Shield. And from Indiana, you are not that far from some pretty amazing Canadian Shield territory in northern Ontario (which is not really all that crazily far north).

If you were closer to my neck of the woods, I’d be recommending some of the paddling in northern Saskatchewan (e.g. Churchill River). Some of the routes up there are bucket list routes.

Thank you all for the thoughtful replies.

Canadian Canoe Routes has loads of trip suggestions.


For Michigan, I’d suggest the Manistee over the AuSable as it has fewer dams/ponds and the National Forest sections are pick your camp spot while the AuSable has specific sites the need reservations. Get Dennis & Date’s ‘Canoeing Michigan’s Rivers’

Farther north, there is the Missinaibi. Shuttle is a part of the equation. Get Hap Wilson’s book for that. Another option is Ontario’s White River. That will also give you a paddle out on Lake Superior to Hattie Cove. That is not to be taken lightly.

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I can’t think of any two week trips in Michigan unless you want to paddle a Great Lake shoreline. I could easily spend two weeks in Isle Royale. If you can meet the border requirements there are lots of possibilities on Ontario rivers. Lower Missinaibi Mattice to Moosonee is 200 miles, train back to Cochrane and bus back to Mattice. Boundary Waters and Quetico are a shorter drive from Indiana.

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I would highly recommend the BWCA as the only place I have found where you can paddle for extended trips with camping, fishing and wilderness all in one place. NO PRIVATE LAND to worry about. You could find an entry point that takes you to the border, western side, then all along the border, Basswod, Crooked Lake, lac la croix and work your way back down. Lots of portages but very private on the border. Need a permit if any are still available. Once you’re in, it’s heaven. No other place like it.

Look at the West Branch of the Susquehanna River Water Trail that runs through north central Pennsylvania. Over 200 miles of mostly forested canyons of flat water and a few easily negotiated mild rapids (class 1 and short open class 2). Goes through state forests, farm land and some small towns with lots of camping options. Excellent set of guide maps if you can still find it published by the Lumber Heritage organization. Here is a link to a site with information. My ex lived along the river near the Shawville dam and we often paddled sections of it. In fact he maintains a mowed meadow on his property along the shore with a campfire ring and a pump with spring water and welcomes paddling groups to use it. The Susquehanna has been proposed as a National Wild and Scenic River and is quite a lovely meandering mature river.

If you have 3 weeks consider the Green River in Utah, the upper Missouri R in Montana, the Willamette R in Oregon, the Sacramento R in CA, and many others. You can go hundreds of miles without a dam.