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A Look At The Beauty of The Allagash Wilderness Waterway


The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is a 92-mile-long protected stretch of lake, shore, and river corridor established in 1966 by the Maine State Legislature and managed by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Recreation, Department of Conservation. Set in the middle of a working forest, the Waterway includes a 400- to 800- foot, state-owned, restricted zone within a privately owned forest extending one mile on either side of the watercourse. Managed to conserve the Allagash's natural beauty and undeveloped character, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway was the first state-administered component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. To help you enjoy and appreciate the natural history of the Allagash, Dean and Sheila Bennett worked as volunteers to prepare this guide book. We were fortunate to have naturalists and writers of their caliber undertake this project, and we appreciate their sharing their extensive knowledge and profound love of the Allagash with us all. No amount of interpretation by naturalists or management by professionals will succeed in preserving the Allagash experience without cooperation from you, the visitor. When you respect the rights of landowners, practice low-impact camping, and show consideration for other visitors and resident wildlife, you are the most important force protecting what makes this area special. Thank you for your help.

Herbert Hartman, Director

Maine Bureau of Parks and Recreation


From the top of Mt. Katahdin, you can see the Allagash Wilderness Waterway stretching northward as far as the eye can see This remote and isolated river corridor is perhaps the most diverse of our northeastern waterways. Brooks and streams wind through swampy forests of conifers and between ridges of northern hardwoods as they make their way to numerous lakes and ponds and eventually to the river that draws its life from them all. Swift currents freshen ledges of colorful volcanic rocks and wash dark gray slates containing fossils of organisms that lived hundreds of millions of years ago in warm tropical seas--a far cry from a region that is, today, one of the coldest in the northeastern United States. Annual temperatures average less than forty degrees Fahrenheit and the daily winter temperature, twenty degrees Fahrenheit. And it is wet here, too. Close to forty inches of precipitation fall each year, part of which produces an average of ten feet of snow in winter. Because of these conditions, the Allagash is a place that exhibits a variety of habitats for a myriad of plant and animal species. But perhaps more importantly, it is a place where you can still capture the essence of the great north woods and experience the feeling of an earlier, more primitive time.

NATURAL CHARACTER OF THE WATERWAY As you fall asleep to the cry of a loon or are awakened by the splashing of a feeding moose, please take a moment to appreciate the experience of the Allagash.

The Allagash offers not only adventure but also peace of mind.

The waterway has given itself to us and we must return the gift, not only to the river but to others who come to be comforted by it.

Our presence should be unfelt. Words should be spoken in soft tones so as not to bother others. Campsites should be left with limited sign of our activity.

Remember the wildlife, trees and other living things are at home and should be respected and undisturbed.

The continuance of its natural character is a gift we can return to the Allagash.

The thoughts of
David Milligan, Allagash Ranger, 1990


The pages contained here-in are an indispensable reference for those who wish to know more about the unusual and beautiful natural qualities of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and enjoy it from afar.

Bennett, Dean B. Allagash: Maine's Wild and Scenic River. Camden, Maine: Down East Books, 1994, 112p.

An exquisitely designed hard-cover book providing the most detailed and comprehensive description available of the waterway's unique natural history along its entire hundred-mile-long corridor. Describes common species of plants and animals and geologic features. Profusely illustrated by the author with color photographs, maps and detailed pen-and-ink drawings. Contains scientific names of species.


Sheila and Dean Bennett have canoed in the waterway together every year for over twenty years They have also made numerous trips into the Allagash in fall, winter and spring. Sheila has a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences and Dean a Ph.D. in Resource Planning and Conservation. Both are faculty members in the University of Maine System.


We thank Tim Caverly, former supervisor of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, for conceiving the idea for this booklet and for his guidance and encouragement.

Northern Aroostook County Region - This area includes the St John Valley area, covering Van Buren, Madawaska, Fort Kent and the Allagash area. Some of the best in Maine's wilderness.

Central Aroostook County Region - The Central Aroostook County region encompasses communities from Mars Hill to Limestone, and from Fort Fairfield to Ashland. There are some wonderful things to do and see in the Aroostook County region, some of which are listed below.

Southern Aroostook County Region - The Southern Aroostook County region consists of communities from Bridgewater to Danforth, and south to the Patten - Island Falls Area. Interstate 95 has it's start in Houlton, culminating in Kittery, 295 miles away. If you are looking for an Eco-Tourism trip to Maine, this would be a great place to get going. There are covered bridges, lakes, mountains and much, more to experience in the Southern Aroostook County region.

Katahdin Region / Baxter State Park - The Katahdin area is home to Baxter State Park and the beginning of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. In the Katahdin Region there is ample Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking adventures awaiting the enthusiastic adventurer. The Katahdin Region is arguably the Center of all outdoor recreation in Maine. From here you can get anywhere in the state by any means you wish. If you hike, bike, ski, snowmobile or drive you can start in the Katahdin area and go in any direction you wish.

Washington County Region - Downeast Maine gets its start in Washington County. There are so many things to do and see in Washington County it is hard to list it all here. One of the most famous places accessible from Washington County is Campobello Island, summer home to the Franklin D. Roosevelt. Also you may want to take a tour of the Quoddy Loop Trail, one of the most scenic coastal trails in the East. Washington County is called the Sunrise County because the sun hits this area of the Continental US first every morning.

Moosehead Lake Region / Greenville Maine - The Moosehead Lake area is home to one of the largest lakes in Maine, and one of the most scenic areas in the state as well. If you are looking for an outdoor adventure with a psoitive impact on your life, this is a great place to start. Outdoor recreation includes hunting, fishing, boating, snowmobiling and much more. With a lake so large, water sports are one of the best kept secrets of the area.

Hancock County Region - Acadia National Park boasts 40 miles of rocky shoreline and the only fjord on the eastern seaboard. Ellsworth, a major retail center, is the county seat of Hancock County. This area is a popular tourist destination due to the scenic coastline, mountains, and islands, abundant outdoor recreational opportunities, and park lands.

Cumberland County Region - Cumberland County is a popular attraction for visitors to Maine and hosts the Portland Sea Dogs, a minor-league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, the L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport, Maine, and the Portland Museum of Art in Portland. The County is approximately 850 square miles in area.

York County Region - York County is a popular destination for both Mainers and visitors alike, offering beautiful beaches like Ogunquit, which also offers the Ogunquit Playhouse. Many visitors find a summer residence in Old Orchard Beach in York County because of its long beach and pier. Wells, a town in York, offers the Wells National Research Reserve a 1,600 acre educational and research facility with 7 miles of trails that span from woods to the beach.

Androscoggin Region - Androscoggin County, incorporated in 1854, is a county in southern Maine that hosts two of Maine’s largest cities, Lewiston and Auburn, also known as the “Twin Cities.” The county is centrally located and is approximately one-half hour from both Portland, Maine’s largest city, and Augusta, Maine’s capital. The Maine Turnpike cuts directly through Androscoggin County, offering easy access to its major cities. Androscoggin County is home to the Maine State Parade, the Moxie Festival and the beautiful Great Falls Balloon Festival, a hot-air balloon spectacle that takes place each year in Lewiston and attracts local citizens and visitors alike.

Somerset County Region - Somerset County is the 3rd largest county in the State of Maine in geographic land area and contains the 9th largest in population. The Kennebec River, one of the largest Maine river tributaries flows from North to South through the county and is used for commercial as well as recreational purposes. Somerset County also contains major ground transportation routes that support heavy commercial, tourist, and residential use.

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