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Thread: Kayaking near North Conway

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    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    Kayaking near North Conway

    I'm usually thinking about hikes when visiting New Hampshire but this time around we are inviting friends and they asked about kayaking near North Conway. We have done Saco River trips several times, but what are other good spots for kayaking? Any lakes that you could recommend? Should we be looking at the map of Maine? Thanks for any suggestions!

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    If you have done the Saco and dont want crowds, the Androscoggin River up the road has lots of flat water paddling. Due to its industrial past there is little development on its shores outside of the Berlin Gorham area. Lots of wildlife, There are quite a few bald eagles and its pretty rare to see other folks out paddling. Note the stretch of river from Berlin to Gorham has multiple hydro dams and is less scenic and PITA to portage. The water has a lot of natural tannins in it from Lake Umbagog, its clean and managed as NH trophy fishing waters but it definitely has more color than the Saco. The easiest to get to is the Shelburne NH to Bethel Maine stretch if makes a nice daytrip. There is public boat ramp at both ends and a couple of places to rent boats. It has a year round flow due to upstream hydro electric storage lakes.

    If you want remote lakes with little or no development Lake Umbagog or Richardson Lake are hard to beat but a longer drive. The problem with lakes in Conway and south of there with the exception of Squam Lake, power boats tend to be a major impact to paddlers.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 05-17-2019 at 05:22 AM.

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    Magalloway from Errol into Umbagog should be your first trip. However, you will be spoiled and never be able to go south again. Richardson and Aziscohos are unmatched for large lakes in western Maine. They are about 30 minutes north from Errol. Errol is about 1:30 from North Conway. Make sure you check out the wind forecast before heading out on the large lakes.

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    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    Thanks very much for the suggestions - I will do more research on them. We have kayaked quite a bit in Adirondacks often on lakes that require carry, so indeed we are looking for places free of crowds, noise, and ideally with plenty of wildlife to observe

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    Richardson gets less power boat traffic than Umbagog. If you have two cars a popular paddle is put in at the wildlife refuge on the Magalloway River and then out on Umbagog and then down the river to the takeout near the dam. Both lakes can get significant white caps in the afternoon when the wind comes up. The boat launch on Richardson is on the NW corner of the lake, its real easy to paddle across to Upper Dam and down the lake in the morning and then run into a headwind on the way back.

    FYI RT 16 north of Berlin is loaded with moose especially in the early AM and at and after dusk. Keep an eye out for them.

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    Can also paddle up or down Rapid River between Richardson and Umbagog. The boat ramp for Aziscohos is off 16 just before you get to the ramp for Richardson. Aziscohos has the least development and the least boating traffic of any of the big lakes. While the whole lake is beautiful, the northern part has beaches and other than a few cabins on the northeast tip and the Bosebuck camp on the northwest tip, there is nothing around and plenty of little islands to explore. The ME DeLorme map shows another boat ramp at the northeast tip of the lake, but I’m not sure it still exists. A good book describing the area before the River was dammed is Hunting and Trapping on the Upper Magalloway River and Parmachenee Lake: First Winter in the Wilderness (1882). I’ve never been to Parmachenee (above Aziscohos) but would like to check it out someday.

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    Be aware the Rapid River, is class 4 white water river. Definitely not a recreational paddle!. There is an outfitter in Gorham NH that does whitewater rafting on the Rapid and the Upper Magalloway. There is a dam controlled white water stretch of the Androscoggin River in Dummer that is popular with recreational kayakers and a local rafting firm. Its easy in easy out but has to be run during dam releases.

    Aziscohos is a hydroelectric dam reservoir. The water level varies greatly over the summer. The west shore is almost totally undeveloped with sparse development on the east shore. The drive up to the put in on the North end, east side is very long drive in on confusing logging roads. The shore line recedes quite a bit as the impoundment is drained over the course of the summer whihc yield lots of gravel beaches. Its loaded with loons and wildlife but a major effort. For someone new to the area I expect Umbagog would be a good introduction.

    If you are looking for a small totally undeveloped pond that few even know about is Pond of Safety in Jefferson. Its a recent addition to the WMNF. It has a handcarry boat ramp and parking lot. The other totally undeveloped pond is Mountain Pond in Bartlett. Note mountain ponds in northern NH tend to have leaches in them so be careful where you swim.

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    The Umbagog side of Rapid River is a peaceful paddle for canoe and kayak.

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    I guess the further you are willing to drive, the more remote and less crowded you'll find it. I've been in the Eustis Me. area (Bigelow Preserve) Labor day Weekend twice in the past 3 years and found it quite peaceful. I paddled maybe a quarter of Flagstaff Lake from the west end last year and found it a lot lass crowded than I'd thought. Because of it being very shallow the power boats are more pontoon. Pretty awesome looking camping along it's northern shore. Which I myself am going to have to find out more about.



    Joe

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    Flagstaff is a real long drive from North Conway.

    That said, its a paddlers paradise once you get your boat in the water. Public The north bay is even more remote than the rest of the lake. The one caveat is the USGS map shows two ways of accessing it. Only the easterly channel actually exists during normal paddling season. The water level would need to be quite high to have any hope of the west channel being open.

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    Grand Falls on the Dead River!

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    Senior Member una_dogger's Avatar
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    The Dead River from Cathedral Pines Campground in Eustis into Flagstaff Lake is one of my favorite paddles in the north country.(Maine)
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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by una_dogger View Post
    The Dead River from Cathedral Pines Campground in Eustis into Flagstaff Lake is one of my favorite paddles in the north country.(Maine)
    The Dead from the put-in just below Grand Falls (below Flagstaff Lake) to the Forks (junction with the Kennebec) is one of my favorite paddles in the north country. (Class 2-3 whitewater depending on the water level.)

    Doug

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    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    Looking at the map I guess Magalloway River seems to look similar to Raquette River from Axton Landing to Rt 3 in Adirondacks (we have done it twice and I highly recommend it, but we never encountered any moose in water - something I would love to see.) I will explore Richardson Lake. I think class 4 rapids are beyond our skills range. Flagstaff Lake is probably a bit too far if we stay in North Conway but maybe we will do another trip that will be centered in Maine next year, so I certainly appreciate these ideas too!

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    Senior Member Brambor's Avatar
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    Sea kayaks I assume...squam lake is spectacular and winnipesauke is great too.

    There are a couple island camp sites managed by squam lake association that are fun to stay at and the launch from their center is kayak friendly. In Maine, all the lakes mentioned have great paddling.

    ...umbagog’s cedar stump campsite destination gets you a decent lake distance and access to walk the rapid river corridor to some nice picnic ledges.

    Mooselookmeguntic has a few neat campsites at Student island

    Richardson has spectacular sandy beaches near Metallaj island with great camp sites

    Sebago lake state park launch and following the shore to the left will lead you through a few fun islands...otherwise I find Senago quite boring.

    And there is more ..like Moose pond in Bridgto in the shadow of Shawnee peak or Conway lake etc...
    Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

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