Maine: Canoeing the Saint Croix River

In Travel Guides, United States
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Spednic Lake by Felipe Lezama

One of the most incredible trips I ever had, so far, is leading a canoe trip in the Saint Croix River for 6 days. Set up camp, chose and carried the food, selected the gear and equipment, traced the route, organized fun activities and made smores.

General information

“The St. Croix forms the eastern boundary between Maine and Canada. It has been heavily developed for electric power, reducing once prolific runs of anadromous fish. However, the river still claims the second largest Atlantic salmon run in the state. From source to sea, Maine and New Brunswick share the St. Croix, the longest stretch of freshwater United States/Canada boundary east of the Great Lakes. It is a waterway full of the unexpected and the unspoiled, maintained by the good will of those on both shores”.

For more information please visit: http://www.mainerivers.org/st_croix.html

Gear and equipment

The best part of a canoe trip is that you can take whatever you want without the need of carrying it on your back. Here is a basic list I used on my trip and that I recommend to take with you.

  1. Canoe, paddle, personal PFD. One canoe can take 2 to 3 people top, everyone needs to have a PFD and a paddle.
  2. Tent, sleeping bag or hammock.
  3. Cooler.
  4. Kitchen stuff (frying pan, pot, knife, spatula, etc.).
  5. Lighter or matches.
  6. Saw or and axe.
  7. Backpack with 2 t-shirts, 1 set of pajamas, water shoes, swimming suit, 1 towel, 2 pairs of sock, underwear and a raincoat.
  8. Toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, bug spray and sun block.
  9. Boardgame, book, frisbee.

Organize your trip and trace the route

This helped me a lot. Before you leave, make a list of all the things you are taking with you and picture your trip day by day, how much food do I need, how much water, is it going to rain, do I need wood, where is the pick up point and the drop off point, how many people I am taking, do I need permissions, how many miles a day are you going to cover, where are the campsites, do you need a map, etc.

Here is how my trip went out:

Day #1. Got up at 6:45am. Had an early breakfast and packed lunch and left around 9am to Spednick Lake in North Washington, it’s a three and a half hours’ drive from Augusta (Maine capital). We got to the lake, unload the canoes, gear, and bags and ate lunch. Got on the water around 1pm. We had a thunderstorm behind us and the wind was in our favor so we tried making a sail with a tarp, after several attempts we got tired and kept paddling, at some point started to rain so we stopped in one camp site near the second island and collected wood before it got really wet. We got to the campsite by 6:30pm, it was a really nice place just before Dark Cove, we set up the tents, started the fire and made dinner (hot dogs and ramen, pudding) . It was raining so we decided to call out the day and went to bed. 9 miles covered.

Day #2. Woke up at 7:30am. Half of the tents were really wet because of the rain. We took a long time to make breakfast (Bacon omelet), started the fire and collected wood and put down the tents. We left at 11am and made it to the dam by 12:15pm, We stayed on the right side all the time (America side), the dam is a portage point, you need to take out the canoes and gear of the water and walk half a mile, once you pass the dam there is a put in point where you can get back to the river, there is a little port that you can use, is really big and is not that far from the put in point, after the dam you will find the rapids so I recommend that you load first the trip leader canoe and you should be the last one leaving. We had lunch in the dam (salami and cheese tortillas), put all the wet stuff out and hang there for about an hour. We got back in the water around 3pm, the rapids made the paddling really fast, we chilled and enjoyed the ride in the river, the first day is when you have the most rapids, enjoyed them. Got to American Cove (campsite) around 6pm. You are going to see a lot of houses if you are running out of water ask the people in the houses, we set up camp, started the fire and cooked dinner (Chicken with bacon and canned fruit) had s’mores and played a really good game of mafia. 13 miles covered.

Day #3. Woke up at 8:30am, started the fire, cooked breakfast (Oatmeal and corn beef hash). We were in the water by 11am. We took some more rapids and made it to Little falls, we didn’t portage there, stopped on the island after the falls and had a break, we kept paddling and found a really nice spot with some little rapids to had lunch. We stayed there for 2 hours playing in the water and drying wet stuff, keep track of the landmarks, there are a lot of islands. Made it to our campsite around 6pm, really nice day, the campsite is almost at the end of Loon Bay, there are two places, the first one has a beach where you can unload the canoes, the second is next to the first one, the kids had 1 hour of free time, and played cup, legends of catan, started the fire and set up camp. We had burgers and ramen, pudding and s’mores, played some mafia and took the canoes into the lake at night to see the stars. 16 miles covered.

Day #4. Up at 8am had a super relaxing morning and took down the tents, started the fire and had breakfast. The day was amazing, really sunny, we loaded the canoes and left at 11am, we had fun in the river, you can do the last miles in 1 hour, is really fast going. we had lunch at the end of the river in one campsite. The lake was really difficult and the kids were really tired so we took a bunch of breaks, drink a lot of water and had apples and oranges, we made it to the last campsite around 6pm, is on your right a few yards before the power lines, you are going to see a small dirty path, don’t miss it.The kids got a free time so they played, unloaded the canoes, started the fire, set up tents, really funny day, we had dinner, s’mores, played mafia and went to sleep. 12 miles covered.

Day #5. Up at 7am last day, the kids were really excited to go back to camp. We started the fire and made breakfast, the kids loaded the canoes really fast and at 8 we got in the water, they were really tired so the speed was slow, they took their time to get to the pickup point, and got there at 11, took us around 3 hours to do the last part of the lake, we went to the highway pickup point, is really easy to find and to unload everything. The van got there at 11:45am, we loaded the van really fast and left to Dizars to eat. 6 miles covered.

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