Camping The Allagash And Other Wild & Wooly Places by Bill Graves

Over the last twenty-five years, camping as a family outdoor activity has taken on a radical new high-end with fifth-wheelers and luxury motorhomes, there are still a few traditional sportsmen who want to enjoy old fashion tent camping.

Campers must first select which particular area they wish to visit, explore and enjoy. Once this choice is appraised and selected, the only other consideration before planning takes place will be how much "roughing" do the campers want to contend with.

Northern Maine offers remote areas of beauty where seclusion is all but guaranteed, and the only modern amenities will be those carried in the hiking camper's backpack. A map, compass, and plan of action are all this rare breed of woodsmen will need to go with their well-stocked packsack.

Most campers seek the change to commune with nature and avoid the pressure of everyday life, without completely forestalling civilization. For this very reason the Allagash Wilderness Waterway has experienced booming popularity over the decade. There is an Allagash outing to fit every sportsman's need, but it must be understood that this is a mobile camping trip, and canoes, not hiking boots, are the mode of conveyance. Outings can be as short as a day, or as long as a week for those who float and paddle daily, and even longer if travelers choose to spend extra nights camping at certain sites.

There are several experienced, dependable guide services that help various size groups wend their way along the Allagash waterway. For the first timers who don't mind traveling with others, it's nice to have someone along who knows the easy route, weather and water conditions, as well as the superior camp sites and best food supplies. Exploring by watercraft allows a few more comforts to be brought along in addition to a more diverse selection of cuisine. After the first group tour experience, solo trips can be enjoyed on future dates with a bit more self confidence, as well as some independence and solitude.

If boating is part of the camping plans, but traversing a waterway isn't, there are many wonderful lakes and ponds that will fill visitor's needs for water and wanderlust. If a lake or pond has even the most rudimentary roadway, there will be camps along the shoreline. To avoid this situation use your boat to locate a tent site that can only be approached by water or walking. Even the most remote waterways have been visited by the State Forest Service, who have cleared and set up special camping areas. Some have lean tos, others have out-houses, many have tables and benches and fireplaces of some sort.

Square Lake offers several wonderful spots to spend a weekend of swimming, fishing, and wildlife watching. The south end, on either shoreline of Goddard Cove, are a trio of beautiful spots to put up a tent. Eagle Lake, connected to Square via a thoroughfare, also has more than half a dozen spots where privacy is pretty much guaranteed, but campers are within an hour of a small town if any specific need arises. Fish River, Squa Pan, and Mattawankeag lakes are located in diverse regions of Aroostook and all offer well-kept, remote water waterside campsites that many vacationers seek.

If you would rather travel by vehicle and car top a canoe, but still desire seclusion, then the Deboullie Mountain area is for you. This Maine Public Reserve Land sector requires a long arduous drive over poor roads to reach a small piece of paradise with over a dozen small lakes and ponds, many brooks, and the well-known Deboullie Mountain Trail. Picturesque waters full of trout, tremendous views from the high hiking trails, as well as camping and boat launching sites galore will please tenders seeking to enjoy the wilderness without crowds.

The outdoorsman who would prefer a brook or stream nearby with lots of surrounding woodland for walks, wildlife and wilderness will want to visit the North Maine Woods region. Check in at 6 Mile gate in Ashland or Fish River Gate in Portage and then choose either the Realty or Pinkham Road. There are hundreds of designate campsites or you can select your own piece of wilderness and turn it into home for a few days.


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