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On the Water

Canoeing on a Lake in Maine's Lakes and Mountains Region.

Canoeing on a Lake in Maine's Lakes and Mountains Region.

Photo Credit: Dan Tobyne, Thoreau's Maine Woods


Canoeing is a traditional method of recreational travel in Maine, connecting paddlers to the rich history and culture found among the multitude of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams across the state. Henry David Thoreau paddled a canoe on his famous sojourns into the Maine woods in the 1800s, and today you can paddle the state's inland waters in the same simple way.

Maine canoe trips have as much variety as the nature and wildlife you’ll experience while canoeing. Flatwater river canoeing allows you time to observe Maine’s forests and mountains while you keep an eye out for eagles, ospreys, loons, kingfishers, moose, deer or beavers. You can also cast for brook trout and other native species. If you'd like a whitewater adventure, you can head to the Penobscot, Kennebec or Dead Rivers.

Maine’s Allagash River was the first river to be permanently protected in the United States. You can plan a week-long trip of canoeing and camping along the Allagash Wilderness Waterway—a 70-mile chain of lakes, ponds and rivers that runs through the heart of the North Woods. You can also canoe and camp along the St. John River nearby. Additional canoeing destinations include the St. Croix, Machias, Sheepscot, Moose, Androscoggin and Saco Rivers. You can also choose from among countless lakes and ponds, ranging from Grand Lake Stream, to the Moosehead Lake Region, to Aroostook County to southern Maine.

Primitive campsites with a picnic table and fire ring are common along popular Maine canoe routes. If you'd like a less primitive lodging experience, you can stay at a lakeside cabin or lodge, where you can return each day to hearty meals and a fireplace.

Maine canoeing is definitely and adventure to add to your bucket list. Numerous outfitters offer guided canoeing trips that range from half-day excursions to extended journeys of up to a week. An expert guide can equip you with the necessary gear, help you with paddling techniques, provide shuttle services, and make sure your canoeing and camping experience is safe and enjoyable.