solo canoe on NFCT

Opinions on Wenonah Argosy solo canoe for Northern Forest Canoe Trail?

Covered deck or unnecessary?

Also…how about a small collapsible portage cart?

NFCT Argosy
What part of the trail or the whole thing?

Depends on the section you are paddling

– Last Updated: Apr-26-12 4:05 PM EST –

As I'm section paddling the NFCT I've found that while one boat may work great for a part of the trail it may not be the best choice for other sections. As far as carries (portages) weight is going to be an issue and some of them like the one around Raquette Falls are not cart friendly. In other sections you wouldn't want to take anything but a tough royalex or plastic boat. Having said that the argosy would work on the NFCT but in some areas you are going to love the boat while in others you'll be dreaming of something else. I'd be willing to take the Argosy if I were through paddling knowing somedays it's the best choice and others I'd have to compromise.

The advantage of being a section paddler is that I can switch boats depending on where I'm paddling. A plastic kayak for shallow rocky areas, the Rapidfire for sections where rocks aren't an issue if there are carries (portages) and my seakayak for the larger lake sections.

No matter what boat you chose paddling the NFCT is great.

Almost forgot to mention - get the best cart you can find. Some of the portages are long and cart friendly. The trick if you are section paddling is to read the material put out by the NFCT and anything else you can before paddling that section to get a good idea of whether it's cart friendly and how long the carries are; if the carries are short you may want to just do two trips one carrying the boat and a second with you gear.

I own a Royalex Argosy as well as a Ultralite Wenonah Wilderness. As a section paddler I agree with what Waterspyder said. If I had to purchase a canoe for the trail I think I would get a Wenonah Wilderness in Tuf-Weave. It’s a bit longer and much stiffer than the Royalex. It would do better on the big lakes and still do pretty well on rivers. The Tuf-Weave is a very durable material and I think it can handle the trail unless something really bad happened.It’s a bit lighter than Royalex which will help on those portages you can’t use wheels on.

There is no perfect boat for the whole trail, everything is a compromise, If you can get an Argosy at a good price it will be adequate. There are other models by other manufactures that are comparable and would also do well.

Concerning carts, get a good one like RiverSpyder says. I don’t like to bad mouth any product but stay away from the C-Tug or anything else with plastic axles and bushings. The ATC cart with bicycle wheels is good but keep and eye on the bearings. You want something with good ground clearance for the rough but wheelable portages.

Find local advice
I can tell you that the Mud Pond Carry enroute to Chamberlain(ME) is not cart friendly.

You have some big lakes out there. Argosy is not a great hull shape for big rolly waters as the water tends to ride up the sides and not get knocked down. Chesuncook, Chamberlain and Champlain of course are concerns.

You can partly get by the big water problem by paddling very early before the winds come up.

I have a very nice center mounted cart but after fitting all my gear in my Argosy there was no room for the cart. And that was just for a week on the Allagash.

You will probably be happier with a longer boat. The Argosy is pretty small.

That said there was a gal who did the NFCT in a Swifty and got pulled over on the Allagash because her craft was too fat for its short length and hence illegal. Otherwise she did fine.

Mud Pond Carry
Yellow Canoe is correct, except for about 200 feet the 2 mile Mud Pond Carry is not wheelable. If you are paddling sections you should check ahead and find out if you need a cart.

If you are through-paddling you’ll find a cart invaluable. In Maine the 3+ mile Rapid River Carry is mostly cartable but rough. The short carry form Upper Richardson to Mooslookmeguntic is on a dirt road and the 1.25 mile carry to Rangeley Lake is on a paved road. The 3+ mile carry from Rangeley to the the Dead river is on a road and wheelable, the 1 mile portage from the Flagstaff Dam past the falls is wheelabe as is the the 1 mile carry past Grand Falls on the Dead River. The 5+ mile Spencer Rips portage is definitely wheelable along with the 3 mile Demo Road carry and the 2 mile Northeast Carry. After the Northeast Carry you really don 't need a cart for the rest of the trail. If you have one you might use it on the trail past Allagash Falls.

not really necessary at Allagash Falls
Now as to getting rid of the cart. You might be able to make arrangements at Raymonds Store on the NE Carry to stow the thing… Rather than have it another piece of impedimentia.

Thinking of Richardson today… it must be howling. Long Lake is throwing up some incredible waves. No canoe would be safe.

The unanswered question
There is some good advice on the Argosy here. It is a very versatile boat with limitations (mainly for upstream work or big lakes). But if you’re smart about knowing when to go or when to stay off the water, it should do you well.

No one addressed a spray cover though. I don’t happen to have one, but I think with the Argosy it is a good idea. It will be safer and easier to manage on big lakes with a spray cover. It will also help out on the river segments to keep water out. If you can afford it, get one.


NFCT carts
If you have the cart with you at Allagash Falls you might as well use it.

As for leaving it at Raymond’s store on the NE Carry; First you’ll have to arrange for the store owners to retrieve from the end of the carry at the West Branch put-in and then you’ll have to figure out how to get back to the store to retrieve it. Raymond’s Store isn’t an easy place to get to.