Canoe Maine: The Upper St. John River

Canoe Maine. Upper St. John River. Photo by Dave Conley
Paddling the Upper St. John in Maine. Photo by Dave Conley

The upper St. John is a true immersion in the deep woods of northern Maine, what the Allagash used to be: hinting at the legacy of Indian camps, logging booms, and the lingering culture of Acadia. It flirts with the Canadian border, flowing north through pine forests. Locals tout it as the longest wild and free-flowing river in the East. Access the river near its source to avoid crowds and motorized traffic, and enjoy moose, loons, ice-scarred riverbanks, fast current and quiet camps. With adequate water, you can add a day of brushy, technical, small-creek travel by starting at Fifth St. John Pond. In general, be sure to go early in the season or after rains, and come prepared with a Plan B in the event that the river is too boney. There are dozens of other trips in striking distance, from the Penobscot to the Machias.

-100 miles
-6-7 days
-Flatwater to Class II-III
-Numerous scenic, designated campsites
-Best run early season (May/June) with high flows.

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The article was originally published on Canoe & Kayak

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