St John's in Maine

Hello everyone,

I am planning a river trip with a friend in late June and we were exploring the option of the St. Johns. We did the Allagash a few years back at the end of June and loved the area. We have 4 nights so we were planning on leaving from Moody Bridge and finishing up in Allagash Village.

I have the Delorme Allagash and St. John map as well as the AMC maine river guide. I was hoping for some firsthand experience or accounts of the river. My main concern is going to be water level at this time of year (late June) I did a thread search and have read all the info that the archives had to offer.

If this isn’t a reality due to water levels, does anyone have any other suggestions along the NFCT that would fit our bill of night 1 at the riverhead and then 3 days on the water with limited portage and fairly remote?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or advice.

Another good source
If you haven’t already checked it out, the Northeast Paddlers Message Board has many paddlers familiar with that river (unfortunately I’m not one of them), and are a great source of info.


St. Johns in June calls for Plan B
We run it right after ice out. After the first week in June its iffy. I have lots of snow tales.

Sometimes if you are very lucky it can be run after lots of rain…that did happen last August.

Has to be a river? Lobster Lake is good for a night and then a night on the West Branch of the Penobscot…you could also start higher up toward Sebomook. Then two on Chesuncook with a takeout at Ripogenus Dam. Allagash Campground runs a shuttle back to the put in.

Thats mix lake and moving water. No real whitewater.

St. Croix is another possibility. I wish I had done the Machias. I believe it fills your needs but its a ledgy one to class 3.

Moose River Bow trip is good for three nights though you can do an extension east of Rt 201 on the Moose River.

The NFCT site has lots of blogs from through paddlers and links to shuttle services.

Thanks for the advice. I was thinking the same thing about the water level. Unfortunately for this trip, I am a teacher so I can’t get that time until late June. I’m going to look into the penobscot trip that you mentioned.

We did the Moose River Bow Trip last summer. That was a fun trip, but that portage was no real fun at all.

Also, thanks for the new website. I’m down in CT so it was very helpful.

Moose river portage
"We did the Moose River Bow Trip last summer. That was a fun trip, but that portage was no real fun at all"

Bet you took the low one. There are two portages…next trip try the woods road that leaves from the SW corner of that bay(there is a beach and primitive campsite there). It ascends gradually to a height of land and is nowhere wet. Then descends almost exactly where your boardwalked swamp intersected the road. The only disadvantage is that you have to cross five or six washed out culverts.

Did that carry in one hour single carrying a solo boat I only had about 30 lbs of gear. The official portage was flooded and I knew that would take all day.

go earlier
you aren’t likely to have enough water in late june to do the St John

not sure about that this year
If this snow pack sticks around it could be interesting!

What you said is true on the average but that river always has surprises.

it can suprise you
but I suspect on June 30 barring lots of rain snow etc you would be doing more carrying than paddling.

What about the St. Croix?
Ditto the others on West Branch. In parts, it looks very much like the St. Johns. It’s a short run but between there, Lobster, and Chesuncook, you can easily spend three nights and there are no portages. The West Branch is dam controlled, so water is assured.

What about the St. Croix. Isn’t that supposed to be similar to the St. John? Less the rapids? Is it as water finicky as the St. John.

Agree with others that water in the St. John is unlikely, but not out of the question. But I’d make that the Plan B. You run it if its available, otherwise, plan on being somewhere else.

If you don’t mind driving your butt off, or maybe you are from up that way anyway, look at some of the Canadian Rivers. June is supposed to be the time for the Bonaventure, n’cest pas?

Hey Thanks for some other rivers to investigate.

Where exactly is the St. Croix? I don’t think that we would be totally opposed to exploring some canadian rivers. Do you have any suggestions that are “closer to the border” than others.

We have toyed with the connecticut lakes as well, but haven’t found much great literature on them. I paddle the other end of the connecticut river quite often living down here in CT and I think that it would be pretty cool to see where it all begins!

Thanks again for the help.

Upon further reading…St. Croix

– Last Updated: Mar-02-09 10:32 PM EST –

Dad works in a used book store and every so often runs across something he thinks will interest me. One such book is titled "No horns blowing", published in 1973, authored by Eben, iirc. It offers ten great canoe trips in Maine. I had just mentioned the St. Croix on vague recollection that somebody once told me it was nice. Both the St. Croix and St. John make Eben's list.

Eben says the St. Croix always has water, and describes a leisurely three-day trip with time spent fishing. Sounds almost tailor made for your wants. I'd offer to copy and send you Eben's description, but his info is so dated and his descriptions not that good, I think you can dig up plenty on the WWW that will be as good or better and lots more up to date.

The St. Croix sits on the border with Canada. Funny, doesn't the St. John sit on the border after Ft. Kent? Eben didn't have a map in his book showing the location, so you'll have to dig that up on your own. But I think it will be worth your while to investigate.


p.s. - there's no description of the St. Croix in Places 2 Paddle. Please remedy that when you come back.

day-after edit: damn, I hate almost remembering, which, for all practical purposes, is the same as forgetting. The author of above mentioned book is Eben Thomas.

st croix
The AMC canoe guide to Maine rivers has a very good description of the St Croix—the river is dam controlled at Vanceboro–call Domtar Paper Company to find out how much water is being released.

St. John
absconds to Canada after leaving Ft.Kent…where it flows southeast to the city of St. John.

I have a really good map of the St. Croix that I got from the Canadian Heritage Rivers Association ten years ago (and its on Tyvek.) Darn if I can tell you where to go to find it now.


– Last Updated: Apr-22-09 11:28 PM EST –

c&c canoe in vanceboro that will be your best bet. the st.john is draining fast this year.i just looked at the st.croix and the gate keeper has the gates wide opened for a bit. late summer and fall are really pretty up there.

St. Croix
The Saint Croix is a very easy paddle. I took my wife and boys on it when the boys were about 12 and 14. They had no issues with paddling their own canoe. You will have an option to camp on either the US or Canadian side of the river. The Canadian sites are accessible by ATV so don’t be surprised if you have guests. There is only one real nice run where you need to worry about dumping. You’ll know when you get there. It’s a quick drop with a very short carry. We unloaded the canoes and then ran it over and over again just for fun.

I do recommend this river as a nice easy 3 day trip for a family. It’s not the St. John but it’s worth doing at least once. We were able to get a local to move our car for us.

just starting to get boney
and the bugs are vicious.

turner bogan as a put in?
anyone ever tried this part of the river?

anybody going up this spring?
iced out early.

Sometimes it comes up with substantial

– Last Updated: Apr-27-10 9:39 PM EST –


Its going to snow big time tonight.

No plans to go.

As of right now the river is very low.

thanks med
i have run the last 6 years but she is going low so soon. 5 years ago i pulled from 5th pond to allagash. that was before i learned to pole. after watching the levels go up and down last summer i think it would be worth the gamble to do a summer trip on the st.john. i have been down last week of june after a big rain and seeing it in lush bloom was fantastic. i did pay the bugs a toll of red blood. over the winter i sold off all my discovery canoes and got a tripper17 and an appalachian16 for bigger water. looks like the appy will have to wait till next year as i will be poling the river at these levels. have you done the aroostic?