1. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is ancient and, yet, it’s quite young. Its rivers, lakes, and portages carried America’s native peoples from summer fishing camps to winter hunting grounds since times now lost in history. When the voyageurs and settlers arrived, they, too, knew the same fir-clad banks and steep portages. Thoreau did, too.
2. Now the NFCT is both a recreational paddling trail and a non-profit organization, headquartered in VT. There you will find wonderful maps, tons of paddling resources, and your membership will support everything from building new campsites to negotiating new portage routes to amazing paddling adventures that introduce kids to paddling. This coming weekend I am going to the NFCT Freshet Fest in Burlington, VT, to paddle the LaPlatte River, attend a panel discussion on through-paddling and more.
3. Moxie, a 4-lb. Yorkshire terrier, was the first (and so far only) dog to brave the entire trail, sleeping in her own adorable little tent, and finishing in Fort Kent on the same day as me! The photo above with Justine Jarvis and T.K. Kiernan, the rest of Team Moxie, was taken at the Northern Door Inn in Fort Kent, Maine.
4. The NFCT travels through 4 states and one province: New York, Vermont, Quebec, back to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
5. Follow the entire route and you will go through locks (as in the Erie Canal), paddle under a hotel, discover relics of logging history, and maybe even see an Alligator.
6. Although the NFCT is widely described as a 740-mile-long trail, those who through-paddle go only about 710 miles. The difference comes from some short areas of the trail where two possible routes are maintained, such as the Northeast and Northwest Carries at the north end of Moosehead Lake. The through-paddler chooses just one, but the mileage of both are counted. My spreadsheet plan (which I’m sure will be accurate to the tenth of a mile) totals 710.8 miles.
7. The fastest anyone has ever solo paddled the entire trail was 25 days.
8. The ghosts of the past will speak to you. One day, on a rocky bluff, forested and remote, you will find a metal ring imbedded in a mighty boulder and sit for a time, pondering how and why it got there. The answer will forever remain a mystery…