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 Mahoosuc range looking upstream. Depending on water levels, it can provide some fun Class 1 rapids. Again, local outfitters can provide equipment, shuttle service, and plenty of expert advice. The Crooked River to the south also offers some fine paddling, with more whitewater options and solitude along its endless oxbows. For a fairly easy paddle that starts
off with some pesky rapids (I once went down them backwards!), then mellows out, put in at Twin Bridges on Route 117 between Norway and Harrison, and take out at Ede’s Falls to the south. The stretch above that point has some Class III rapids accessible from Route 118 in Waterford, and definitely not for the novice navigator. Expect to encounter blowdowns, and be prepared to scout some steep drops that vary dramatically depending on flow. Give yourself plenty of time for this section, as it is definitely off the beaten path and can be slow going.
While these rivers can provide for some extraordinary views, some of the most remote and majestic paddling in Maine is in our High Peaks Region, where big lakes bump up against rugged 4,000-foot mountains. The storied Northern Forest Canoe Trail runs through this region on its 740-mile journey from New York’s Adirondacks to Fort Kent. It enters Maine at Lake Umbagog southwest of Rangeley, followed by a long carry up to Lower Richardson Lake along the Rapid River, known for its world-class trout fishing and
whitewater. Both Richardson Lake and Mooselook- meguntic to the north provide some awe-inspiring open water paddling, with access to remote campsites along the shores and islands. The South Arm Camp- ground in Andover, and the Stephen Phillips Preserve in Rangeley, offer canoe rentals, camping access, and sound advice. As the campsites are few and far be- tween, it is recommended to reserve well in advance. The trail also traverses the breathtakingly beautiful Rangeley and Flagstaff lakes, with access to the towns of Rangeley and Stratton, both great places to gear up, but also find accommodations and fine dining if roughing it isn’t your thing.
These are, of course, just a few of the spectacular waters that western Maine has to offer. The aptly named “Lakes Region” to the south is anchored by the great Sebago, the second largest and deepest lake in the state. Sebago Lake State Park provides easy access at the northern end, where small islands and coves provide cover from open water, wind, and waves. Other notable lakes in this area include Kezar Lake to the north, Panther Pond, and Long Lake, to name a few.
Essentially, anywhere you find yourself along Maine’s West Coast, there will be water nearby to float your boat. Whether it’s an epic lake-to-lake adventure, a swift run down a scenic river, or an intimate investigation of a boggy backwater, you will undoubtedly leave wanting more ... and there will always be plenty of that! ✬
Heading south on calm waters after a windy solo camping trip on Mooselookmeguntic Lake, where remote campsites are managed as part of the Stephen Phillips Preserve.
Scott Vlaun

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