Maine’s Top 6 Wildest Canoe & Kayak Trips

Allagash Wilderness Waterway

If you love peace, quiet, and incredible wild beauty, you’ll love the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.  This ancient canoe route runs from south to north through 92 miles of untamed beauty.  We had the opportunity to experience this wild adventure in 2016.  We planned on making it a 7-10 day trip but finished the 98.5 miles in 5 days (we used a GPS to track our mileage).  Our adventure started in Allagash Stream, just before Allagash Lake, and gained a few extra miles.  If you love paddling, incredible scenery and Class I-III whitewater (depending on rainfall), this is the trip for you!  Check out the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

St. John River

Exclusive and for a limited time only- that describes the St. John River.  You can only paddle this river from May through mid-June, cfs permitting, and we’re talking about 3,000 cfs or more.  This wild and remote fast water river stretches 154 miles from 5th St. John Dam to the town of St. Francis.  This incredible river includes class I-III rapids, and no portages.  Check out the St. John River.

Moose River Bow Trip Loop/Bow Trip

This adventure is a two-for-one deal:  two adventures in one beautiful location.  The Moose River Loop trip begins and ends at the same exact spot: Attean Pond or Holeb Pond.  I recommend ending at Attean Pond landing, as the portage between the two ponds is a rough and tough one at 1.25 miles one way.  Don’t bother bringing your kayak cart!  The Bow Trip begins at the Holeb Pond landing and ends at the Attean Pond landing.  Hire a local guide to bring your vehicle around for you.  This is a nice, short trip which offers many chances to see wildlife.  It’s also a great opportunity to teach new paddlers how to maneuver through rapids, as the run has short class I-II rapids.  While this is a very popular trip, most of the time you will find yourself alone on the river, with nothing more than wildlife for company.  Just the same, plan your days ahead and pick your campsite by early afternoon to avoid sleeping in your canoe.  Check out the Moose River Bow Trip Loop/Bow Loop.

Kennebec River

The Kennebec River is not for the faint of heart, nor the inexperienced paddler.  The river is most frequented by whitewater rafting outfitters and experienced whitewater kayakers.  It is a perfect river for those who love challenging whitewater, from class II to V.  The water trail begins with incredible steep rock walls lined with evergreen trees then heads straight into 3.5 miles of class II-V whitewater rapids.  Experience the exhilaration of huge waves and holes from rapids like Big Mama and Magic Falls where waves can reach 6-8 feet high.  The Kennebec River is dam controlled for daily whitewater all summer and fall.  Check out the Kennebec River.

Penobscot River- Lower West Branch

The Penobscot River has three sections: East Branch, Upper West Branch, and Lower West Branch.  The Lower West Branch section of the Penobscot River is 17 miles of Class III – V whitewater including rapids with names like Exterminator, Staircase, Cribworks, Big A Falls and Troublemaker Hole.  This is another river that is best paddled by experienced boaters.  This section of the Penobscot River offers incredibly scenic views.  It stars at Ripogenus Gorge and passes by the base of Mount Katahdin.  Whitewater rafting outfitters frequent 12-14 mile sections of the river.  Check out the Penobscot River- Lower West Branch.

Dead River

The Dead River is well named.  Most of the time it is just that- dead, until a dam release, that is.  This wild river offers class II to IV rapids, but only 8 times each year.  This river has one of the longest continuous sections of whitewater in the Northeast.  Paddlers experience around thirty rapids in just a 13-mile stretch of river!  The Dead River is home to rapids including Spencer Rips, Quatro Wave Train, The Mine Field, and the appropriately named Evil Nasty Hole.  This is another river that should only be paddled by experienced whitewater paddlers.  Plan for lots of boating traffic since everyone and their brother heads out to catch one of the 8 releases on this incredible river.  Check out the Dead River.

Enjoy the wild beauty of Maine and

Stay Untamed!

Angela Quintal-Snowman
Stay Untamed

Angela Quintal-Snowman

Adventurer at Untamed Mainer
Angela enjoys exploring the many beautiful and unique natural places in Maine and sharing her outdoor experiences with others.When not out exploring Maine woods, trails, mountains and waterways Angela can be found plotting and planning her next adventure or buying another backpack.(Because you can never have too many).
Angela Quintal-Snowman
Stay Untamed

Leave a Reply