The Allagash and St. John watersheds are our spring and summer playgrounds. These two rivers are famous for the paddling they offer. There are also lesser know streams, such as Chemqusabamticook (a.k.a. Ross Stream) which offer many day kayaking/canoeing trips, as well as several overnight trips. If you can handle Class II whitewater, you should be able to handle any of these streams and rivers. Beginners have plenty of good paddling available.


McNally's is located in dead center of some of the best kayaking and canoeing in the East. Paddling season runs from May 15th through November. October is a beautiful month for paddling.henderson_bridge_trip_august_30_2010.jpg_002
canoers on ross stream

Chemquasabamticook Stream, on which McNally's Ross Stream Camps are located, has a ten mile stretch from Clayton Lake to the camps that has one of the greatest vertical drops of any stream or river in Northern Maine.  This stretch of stream is rapids most of the way from Clayton Lake to the boundary of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.  In high water, such as in the spring or after a day of heavy rain, this stream becomes very fast, yet the rapids are probably no tougher than Class II due to the fact that there are few obstacles in the way.   As water levels drop, it becomes more technical and takes more time.  Usually, I do it in a kayak; I just prefer it to a canoe but I expect it is also easier in a kayak.  This makes a nice short day trip.  Leave your cabin at 10:00 a.m. and you will be back sitting on your porch for happy hour.  

Another very nice day trip starts at Churchill Dam, located within Maine's Allagash Wilderness Waterway, and runs down the Allagash River.  The first six or so miles are the toughest of the entire Allagash Wilderness Waterway.  This section is called Chase Rapids and is Class II and sometimes Class III whitewater.  Yes, I have gone swimming in this stretch and it does have a pair of Rayban sunglasses that I offered to the River Gods in exchange for my canoe!  Once you get to the site of what was Bissonette Bridge the river slows significantly as it meanders towards Umsaskis Lake.   Should you choose to skip the rapids, you can put in at Bissonette Bridge  but there is no parking allowed at the bridge.  Remember you are in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, the first federally designated wild and scenic river and a State of Maine park, which has rules.  Check with the Maine Department of Conservation regarding rules on watercraft in particular.  We can either pick you up at Umsaskis Bridge or you can continue paddling right back to camp.  The Allagash Wilderness Waterway has three day trips on it that can be done by an average paddler either in canoes or kayaks.  

The St. John River is also in our backyard. People come from all parts of the world to paddle the St. John as well as the Allagash River.  It is our great fortune to live so close to both.  The St. John River is mostly used by people canoeing or kayaking the entire length of the river in high water, mainly in early spring.  It is quite a trip and should be taken only by experienced paddlers who are in good to excellent health.  It is a very big river and should not be taken lightly.  Many paddlers have suffered from hypothermia or worse.   During the summer time, the St John River takes on a much more user friendly attitude.  What were life threatening rapids in the spring become rips that the average paddler can easily handle in a canoe or kayak.  We offer a couple of day trips on the St. John that can be done in relatively low water.  It is a very scenic river that reminds me of the rivers in the west.  I have yet to lose a pair of sunglasses in this river but I have managed to go swimming in one set of rips.  

Suffice it so say that I personally believe that the Allagash River and the St. John River are two of the best trips by canoe or kayak that can be found in Northern Maine, or, for that matter, the eastern United States.    

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