Backcountry Paddling and Camping in Maine

View from the Moose River Bow Trip in Jackman.

Maine is home to some of the most beautiful and remote backcountry paddling and camping adventures.  Maine’s parks and public lands offer scenic campsites in a number of beautiful settings including coastal islands, mountains and remote lakes.

What you should know before you go

Before heading off the beaten path there are some things you need to know.  Almost all campsites on state-maintained lands are on a first-come, first-serve basis.  This is why most paddlers and boaters head out early and end the day in the early afternoon.  Getting that choice sunset-facing campsite depends on getting there before anyone else does.  Don’t bring your own wood unless it came from the local area where you are camping.  “Buy it where you burn it,” as they say, and help keep our woods healthy and beautiful.  Most sites have a fire ring, rustic picnic table (some with a pole above the table and fire pit area for a rain fly), and access to a pit toilet or outhouse.  Some locations require a burn permit for the fire ring, so do your research before you head out.

Where to go backcountry camping by boat

Allagash Wilderness Waterway – Part of the National Wild and Scenic River System, the Allagash offers 92 miles of the most pristine and remote backcountry camping in the state.  The river includes class I and class II whitewater adventure.

Penobscot River Corridor – While a few sections of the Corridor can be accessed by vehicle, most of the 67 miles of river provide the remote escape you’ve been looking for.  Fishing, canoeing and whitewater rafting are popular activities in this region.

Moose River Bow Trip – Leave your vehicle in one place for this trip, as it stars and stops in the same place.  The 34 mile loop crosses Attean and Holeb Ponds then through Moose River back to Attean Pond.  The loop requires one major portage, but it’s worth it for the chance for mountain views and wildlife sightings.

Northern Forest Canoe Trail – This ancient network of ponds, lakes, rivers and streams officially begins in New York and ends in Fort Kent, Maine, but you can experience over half of the trip in Maine alone.  The Maine portion of the trail encompasses Richardson Lake Public Lands, Bigelow Preserve, Moosehead Shoreline Public Lands, the Penobscot River Corridor, and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

Maine Island Trail – This network of almost 200 wild ocean islands and coastal sites along the Maine coast is America’s first water trail.  Many sites can only be used by members of the Maine Island Trail Association, who maintains the trail.  It is worth the yearly membership fee, which helps support the preservation of Maine’s remote ocean islands.

Machias River Corridor – A more challenging water trail, the Machias River Corridor spans 76 miles including Class I to Class III whitewater.  The Corridor starts at Fifth Machias Lake and ends at the tidewater in Machias.

The Backcountry is calling

So grab your paddles, pack your backpack and enjoy some of the most exciting and scenic backcountry paddling and camping in Maine!

Bread cooked in a reflector oven with a campfire.

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