Canoeing Maine's Saint John River
Canoeing in Maine with Wilds of Maine
- The longest free flowing river this side of the Mississippi
- A good mix of easy open rapids, a little flatwater and quick water for the majority of the trip
- Clear water river and well maintained campsites
Maine’s historic logging river flowing through rolling hills & open valley; now preserved by The Nature Conservancy.
The Saint John is the granddaddy of Maine's rivers and our favorite wilderness trip in Maine. On Saint John the Baptist's Day in 1604, French explorer Samuel de Champlain sailed into the mouth of this river at the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, giving the river its name.
The St. John is the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi. It winds its way through several headwater lakes and on for 100+ miles of forests, beautiful rolling hills and open valleys. (Large tracts of the land are owned by The Nature Conservancy.) It parallels the Maine/Quebec border then turns east and forms the northern border of Maine, continuing on through New Brunswick to the ocean. This free flowing river is generally canoeable from ice-out in late April or early May through June, all depending on snow melt and spring rains.
The Wilds of Maine offers a eight-day/seven-night canoe camping trip on the historic St. John from Baker Lake to Allagash Village. We meet our guests and drive the Golden Road to Baker Lake. Camping that night at the lake, on Day 1 we begin our 125-mile northward journey on a narrow river lined with fir and spruce. The gradient is exceptionally steady, from 1200 feet elevation at the lake to 600 feet at Allagash Village. There are no portages, and the shallow, clear water affords an excellent opportunity to learn the art of canoe poling. The rapids are primarily Class 1 and ll.
All of the campsites are well maintained by the North Maine Woods Association and University of Maine volunteers. In some places we explore the fields for historical remains of logging camps and their supporting farms. On Day 7 we take out at Allagash Village where our vehicles will be waiting.
- A fully guided and outfitted expedition
- All transportation to the river from the group meeting point
- All park entrance and camping fees
- Paddling and poling instruction as desired
- All equipment available (canoes, PFDs, paddles, and tents)
- All group camping gear (cooking gear, tarps, etc)
- All transportation to and from the river from the group meeting location
- Travel to and from the trip's meeting location
- Pre- and post-trip hotel accommodation
- Any food or snacks desired prior to lunch at the put-in, and after lunch at the take-out
Day by Day Itinerary
About The Operator:
Wilds of Maine
Mike Patterson is the owner, head guide, and chief cook and bottle washer of the "Wilds of Maine Guide Service." An avid outdoor enthusiast, Mike's love of paddling started with earning his 'canoe merit' badge on the way to becoming an Eagle Scout. A native Mainer of Belfast, Maine, he worked in the shipbuilding industry following graduation from the Maine Maritime Academy in Marine Engineering. After 23 years of spending all his vacation and weekends on the water, he turned his real passion into his full-time profession. It's been fifteen years and millions of strokes since.
Mike is past president of the Professional Maine Guides Association and a 17-year veteran Boy Scouts of America leader. He is featured in Canoe & Kayak's Special Anniversary Issue, and his articles have appeared in National Geographic Adventure and Paddler Magazine. Over the years he has been a whitewater canoeing instructor for the Appalachian Mountain Club, and winner of the Northeast Divisional Championship for canoe poling. He continues to offer instruction in poling - see our Schedule. His other pursuits have included mountaineering, ice climbing and cross-country and downhill skiing, including instructing for Maine's ski resorts.
He's usually found paddling somewhere nine months of the year with guests and friends, and wife, Shauna. In November and December he's helping folks make their Christmas merrier by operating a Christmas tree and wreath lot. January finds him in the office and barn getting ready for the next paddling season, but he still finds time to participate in his winter pleasures of skiing and snowshoeing. Course he's always ready to talk about rivers, or his favorite haunts in Maine. Call anytime!