Look at any map of northern Maine and maritime Canada and you’ll see that lakes, ponds, rivers and streams dominate the landscape. These waterways have played a central part in the rich history of the region, from native tribes and fur traders paddling to make their way through the rugged forest, to industrious Maine woodsmen driving logs downriver to the mills.
With much wilderness left untouched, today’s outdoor enthusiasts can largely recreate many of these historic routes. Whether you prefer to paddle a canoe or kayak, you can spend a half a day to half a month or more exploring these northern waters. Classic trips such as the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and the St. John River will bring paddlers through the heart of the North Maine Woods and into the habitat of Maine’s spectacular wildlife. Trips out on the Aroostook or Fish Rivers offer shorter trips with no shortage of wilderness experience.
Northern Maine also provides many opportunities for the thrill-seeking paddler. Those without much experience may choose to jump in a raft with the knowledgeable and experienced guides to charge the rapids of rivers like the West Branch of the Penobscot. Those capable of paddling their own canoe or kayak in whitewater will be pleased by the various options throughout the spring, summer and fall.
In the spring, the Aroostook River below the Tinker Dam offers a quality “park and play” option only 30 minutes from Presque Isle, ME. There are a plethora of challenges amongst northern Maine and maritime Canada’s seasonal runs and dam release classics. Autumn rains, spring run-off and the occasional damp summer will bring up steeper gradient runs full of class V action. In western Aroostook County the Machias River, a tributary of the Aroostook River, provides miles of excellent whitewater for those looking for incredible scenery and straightforward rapids. Meanwhile, virtually every day of the summer one can find everything from class II to class IV dam release fun. There is something for every level of paddler in the heart of the northern forest.