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Thread: At Large Kayak Camping - Is There Such A Thing?

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    At Large Kayak Camping - Is There Such A Thing?

    Now that I finally have a kayak I've been trying to figure out good off-the beaten path places to take it out for day trips amd hopefully some overnights. While researching some possible hikes in Maine this Summer I noticed that many of the lakes showed campgrounds on the shores of lakes and islands that don't appear to have road access (specifically it was in the Rangeley area - Mooselookmeguntic, Upper and Lower Richard, Aziscohos,etc). Are there bodies of water in the Northeast where you can put in a canoe or kayak and camp "at large" on the shore or nearby woods? Most areas around my house and Southern New England are definitely private property and definitely off limits. Was curious if any of the more remote lakes and water bodies in New England or NY offer that option. Most of the places I've researched to date are established campgrounds you pay to stay at.

    Anyway, any suggestions anyone may have for good places to do some "floating backpacking" away from the masses would be appreciated. Thanks in advance. (I should also point out that my wife and I have recreational kayaks, not touring set ups of any sort. Not looking for seacoast trips, lengthy paddles or extensive portages. Just remote scenic freshwater areas to paddle with flexibility to camp.)
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

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    Senior Member JustJoe's Avatar
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    First, if you don't have it, get the "Go Paddling" for your phone. Wouldn't suggest checking this out because it a cruise, but since you mentioned Rangeley, Flagstaff Lake. I paddles about 1/4 of it on a Labor day Weekend. Put in, in Eustis. Large lot. I saw awesome lakeshore campsites that were most occupied by people with kayaks. This was Labor Day Weekend and by no means did it seem so up there. No crowded. There was even a couple small islands I stopped to check out that had signs of camping. I have no idea where you would inquire about this but it looked pretty awesome to me. I've also read, I believe here, that that's done on Umbagog Lake in Errol, NH.

    This is a spot you could camp as far as I could tell. There were people just around the corner. My pictures have been able to be seen for some reason but will give it a shot anyway.
    Joe

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    They have a few in the ADK's including smaller islands on Lake George and I believe 13th Lake. (Lake George has other large boat traffic that makes navigating around them important. if you were set on Lake George, I wouldn't pick a holiday weekend) There are a few hikes where you can only access them from lake shores.

    You can check the CT DEEP site if interested in the CT River. There are sites in Crowmell, at Hurd Park and Selden Island where we have stayed as scouts. I don't believe the waterfront ones are just for Youth Camping like some other State Parks and State Forest Sites. (I could be wrong though). On the Shetucket, Salt Rock State Park has a campground, IDK what the reservation requirements are. If there is more than 2.6 feet at the river gauge at Willimantic, it is navigable. I've been down twice this Spring with 3.2 and 3.6 feet of water and it's been good. The put in at Lauter Park in Willimantic on the Natchaug and one easy portage at the Scotland Dam.

    The CT River has also some sites up north also, I believe in VT, but I believe one was in NH and one was on an island in the river, unsure which side that was located. There is a commercial entity offering sites and even catering where you can put in above White River or even on the White near the CT Confluence.

    This site may help also in your planning: https://www.northernforestcanoetrail.org/
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustJoe View Post
    First, if you don't have it, get the "Go Paddling" for your phone. Wouldn't suggest checking this out because it a cruise, but since you mentioned Rangeley, Flagstaff Lake. I paddles about 1/4 of it on a Labor day Weekend. Put in, in Eustis. Large lot. I saw awesome lakeshore campsites that were most occupied by people with kayaks. This was Labor Day Weekend and by no means did it seem so up there. No crowded. There was even a couple small islands I stopped to check out that had signs of camping. I have no idea where you would inquire about this but it looked pretty awesome to me. I've also read, I believe here, that that's done on Umbagog Lake in Errol, NH.

    This is a spot you could camp as far as I could tell. There were people just around the corner. My pictures have been able to be seen for some reason but will give it a shot anyway.
    Thanks. I'll check out that app. Umbagog Lake has an established pay for use campground with on lake spots you have to reserve and is definitely on the radar although I'd like to try out a more flexible, stop where I feel like it scenario. I've heard really good things about the Eustis Campground on Flagstaff Lake. I just figured in prime paddling months securing a campsite would be tough. I have a friend who "set up shop" there last Fall and did a lot of nice day trips from the campground. In a "perfect" world I'd love to find a good put in/parking spot and paddle around and camp where ever it was practical. I'm rapidly finding out in my first few trips out that just paddling around on open water is not a whole lot of fun and I'd rather explore areas with nooks and crannies, marshes, slow moving rivers, wildlife, etc.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

  5. #5
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    They have a few in the ADK's including smaller islands on Lake George and I believe 13th Lake. (Lake George has other large boat traffic that makes navigating around them important. if you were set on Lake George, I wouldn't pick a holiday weekend) There are a few hikes where you can only access them from lake shores.

    You can check the CT DEEP site if interested in the CT River. There are sites in Crowmell, at Hurd Park and Selden Island where we have stayed as scouts. I don't believe the waterfront ones are just for Youth Camping like some other State Parks and State Forest Sites. (I could be wrong though). On the Shetucket, Salt Rock State Park has a campground, IDK what the reservation requirements are. If there is more than 2.6 feet at the river gauge at Willimantic, it is navigable. I've been down twice this Spring with 3.2 and 3.6 feet of water and it's been good. The put in at Lauter Park in Willimantic on the Natchaug and one easy portage at the Scotland Dam.

    The CT River has also some sites up north also, I believe in VT, but I believe one was in NH and one was on an island in the river, unsure which side that was located. There is a commercial entity offering sites and even catering where you can put in above White River or even on the White near the CT Confluence.

    This site may help also in your planning: https://www.northernforestcanoetrail.org/
    I'm finding the water levels pretty low already around my house. I live about 8 minutes from Thompson Reservoir (NE CT) so I've done two trips there. Water is down from "normal" by 2-3' it looks like. There were many surprisingly shallow spots even out on what seemed like open water. There were spots out in the middle that maybe had 18 inches of water. It apparently has a very narrow channel from the river outlet to the dam. The Quinebaug River that feeds it from the North is a really nice 5 mile or so paddle but it already has spots with no more than a foot of water so I'm not sure how long that route will last.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

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    There are tons of tent sites on Umbagog, Richardson and Aziscohos. I’ve always assumed they require advance reservation. I have friends that have canoed down Magalloway from north of umbagog. They overnighted at Mollidgewock SP on the Androscoggin and did not need a reservation there as far as I know.

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    I'm finding the water levels pretty low already around my house. I live about 8 minutes from Thompson Reservoir (NE CT) so I've done two trips there. Water is down from "normal" by 2-3' it looks like. There were many surprisingly shallow spots even out on what seemed like open water. There were spots out in the middle that maybe had 18 inches of water. It apparently has a very narrow channel from the river outlet to the dam. The Quinebaug River that feeds it from the North is a really nice 5 mile or so paddle but it already has spots with no more than a foot of water so I'm not sure how long that route will last.
    The Natchaug from Lauter Park in Willimantic is good if the gauge for the Shetucket is above three feet. Anything lower and parts of the Natchaug above the Shetucket confluence may be bony (low). From what NH Climber said, I would also assume places need advance reservations. I think I have maps for Umbagog as another troop at Summer Camp had spent a week there the year before. (Scouts paddled and they had a support power boat) Large Lakes and wind can be problematic, especially in the afternoon. Early morning usually not as bad. Our troop does a week on the Allagash & there are trips on the St. John, however, logistics up there make outfitters a good way to go. If you're available during the week, PM me. I'd do the Natchaug/Shetucket day trip with you if you are interested.

    At the moment of my typing: (2nd graph has feet, slight uptick this AM) https://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/ct/n...te_no=01122500
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NHClimber View Post
    There are tons of tent sites on Umbagog, Richardson and Aziscohos. I’ve always assumed they require advance reservation. I have friends that have canoed down Magalloway from north of umbagog. They overnighted at Mollidgewock SP on the Androscoggin and did not need a reservation there as far as I know.
    Thanks. That is what I couldn't really figure out about the camp sites marked on my map, but it is a hiking trail map and these spots would have no use for that. Many were just the tent icon and at least half didn't even have names, which led me to believe they were a first-come, first-serve type of situation. I'm going to research some of the named ones to see what I can find out.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    The Natchaug from Lauter Park in Willimantic is good if the gauge for the Shetucket is above three feet. Anything lower and parts of the Natchaug above the Shetucket confluence may be bony (low). From what NH Climber said, I would also assume places need advance reservations. I think I have maps for Umbagog as another troop at Summer Camp had spent a week there the year before. (Scouts paddled and they had a support power boat) Large Lakes and wind can be problematic, especially in the afternoon. Early morning usually not as bad. Our troop does a week on the Allagash & there are trips on the St. John, however, logistics up there make outfitters a good way to go. If you're available during the week, PM me. I'd do the Natchaug/Shetucket day trip with you if you are interested.

    At the moment of my typing: (2nd graph has feet, slight uptick this AM) https://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/ct/n...te_no=01122500
    I'll start following that gauge and should probably research a few others that I can monitor more directly to get a sense of when the rivers are passable.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    They have a few in the ADK's including smaller islands on Lake George and I believe 13th Lake. (Lake George has other large boat traffic that makes navigating around them important. if you were set on Lake George, I wouldn't pick a holiday weekend) There are a few hikes where you can only access them from lake shores.

    You can check the CT DEEP site if interested in the CT River. There are sites in Crowmell, at Hurd Park and Selden Island where we have stayed as scouts. I don't believe the waterfront ones are just for Youth Camping like some other State Parks and State Forest Sites. (I could be wrong though). On the Shetucket, Salt Rock State Park has a campground, IDK what the reservation requirements are. If there is more than 2.6 feet at the river gauge at Willimantic, it is navigable. I've been down twice this Spring with 3.2 and 3.6 feet of water and it's been good. The put in at Lauter Park in Willimantic on the Natchaug and one easy portage at the Scotland Dam.

    The CT River has also some sites up north also, I believe in VT, but I believe one was in NH and one was on an island in the river, unsure which side that was located. There is a commercial entity offering sites and even catering where you can put in above White River or even on the White near the CT Confluence.

    This site may help also in your planning: https://www.northernforestcanoetrail.org/
    My GF and I went to see the lost trains last Summer and we met some interns mapping and documenting the campsites and privys along the route. The young lady had hiked the AT and the CDT and she told me "walking is for suckers". She much preferred the canoe.

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    There seems to be a pretty big split between the rules and actual experience in the field on much of the Maine undeveloped lakes. Folks with practical experience just camp where they want on undeveloped lakes and rivers. There are wardens assigned to the Allagash and possibly other high use spots but most are covered by very widely spread game wardens. I have heard some folks describing "zoos" at drive up state sites on wilderness lakes where folks jam in large campers and take over sites with the generators wailing and the tunes cranked up. I have seen that at the boat landing on Flagstaff near Eustis where we had to walk directly through an area taken over by yahoos to access the state dock. Many (but not all) of the large private holdings are managed by North Maine Woods and they have their own rules and fees but looking at their brochure they do not cover dispersed camping.

    Many but not all large Maine lakes controlled with hydro dams have handed over control to the state of Maine of a buffer from the edge of the water to some set distance in from the shore. These easements may be fee or just an easement. One thing that is enforced is fire permits, if you are out in the woods you need a fire permit to burn a fire and that require permission of the owner of the land. Many but not all of the state and some of the organized private campsites are do not require a permit at organized sites but it varies. Flagstaff Lake (a fine place to go out for few days) has several designated sites but many just pull up spot of beachfront and camp. Flagstaff is a hydro controlled storage lake so there are lots of beaches in summer as well as a lot of small islands. My guess is if someone sets up a multiday campsite they are going to be subject to far more scrutiny than someone pulled over for the night. In the past if in doubt we just pulled our boats into the woods and kept our site inconspicuous.

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    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    Maine is about 89% forested (highest of any state) but about 90% of that is in private hands. When you subtract the WMNF, Baxter and Acadia, there is really not much public land in Maine percentage wise. Certainly not when compared against the western states.

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    The Waterdata.usgs.gov site will work across the Northeast and likely since it's USGS, across the country. Lake Umbagog info can be found on the NH Parks and Rec site. I came across pictures of maps and info from a Troop I met at Summer Camp that had done the trip. They had lake topo maps, and campsite info. They also had info from Reserve America. Due to the Lake's popularity, reservations are likely required.

    All I could say about the walking is for suckers comment is that, "It depends" If I am away with a small group of scouts and parents, I agree, we carry a weeks worth of food, tents, a group tarp, personal gear, and when in the lakes, the lower the boat, the less wind it gets hit with but paddles about the same. It's only an issue in portages and if the river is low. If you are going solo, if in a canoe, you want probably a lightweight one if you are portaging. One of the Classic ADK routes (Maybe Fulton Lakes, IDR) has a 3.5 mile portage. if you have to make a separate trip with boat and then gear, that's a 10.5 mile hike in the middle of your paddle. (My thought is you failed to read the fine print in your trip planning )

    We've done long 60 miles on the Allagash and 31 miles on the CT River in CT. IMO, thirty miles in CT. (Wethersfield Cover to Hadlyme, I believe, without looking) begins to look to same although it changes a bit. Sixty miles in Maine, mostly of Boreal Forest and lower mountains in the distance stay similar also although, IMO it's better.) How many different things can I see on a 60 mile hike in the Whites. Sixty on the AT, gets me from Franconia, Notch above treeline, waterfalls, streams, rivers, ponds, etc
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    The Waterdata.usgs.gov site will work across the Northeast and likely since it's USGS, across the country. Lake Umbagog info can be found on the NH Parks and Rec site. I came across pictures of maps and info from a Troop I met at Summer Camp that had done the trip. They had lake topo maps, and campsite info. They also had info from Reserve America. Due to the Lake's popularity, reservations are likely required.

    All I could say about the walking is for suckers comment is that, "It depends" If I am away with a small group of scouts and parents, I agree, we carry a weeks worth of food, tents, a group tarp, personal gear, and when in the lakes, the lower the boat, the less wind it gets hit with but paddles about the same. It's only an issue in portages and if the river is low. If you are going solo, if in a canoe, you want probably a lightweight one if you are portaging. One of the Classic ADK routes (Maybe Fulton Lakes, IDR) has a 3.5 mile portage. if you have to make a separate trip with boat and then gear, that's a 10.5 mile hike in the middle of your paddle. (My thought is you failed to read the fine print in your trip planning )

    We've done long 60 miles on the Allagash and 31 miles on the CT River in CT. IMO, thirty miles in CT. (Wethersfield Cover to Hadlyme, I believe, without looking) begins to look to same although it changes a bit. Sixty miles in Maine, mostly of Boreal Forest and lower mountains in the distance stay similar also although, IMO it's better.) How many different things can I see on a 60 mile hike in the Whites. Sixty on the AT, gets me from Franconia, Notch above treeline, waterfalls, streams, rivers, ponds, etc
    Hey now! I didn't say I agreed with her...But it does make me laugh recalling it.

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    I went to presentation by someone who thru solo paddled the NFCT in both directions. He had his challenges west to east but east to west was quite difficult as he had to time his paddle for spring runoff to have enough water. He basically paddled upriver for the majority of the route in less than pleasant spring weather.

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