10 Historical Canoe Routes Still Used Today | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Paddle into the past on storied waterways.
  • Navigate a network of routes rich in tradition.
  • Explore trails still teeming with history and adventure.

Ever paddled down a river where history lingers in the ripples?

Canoe trails that have witnessed centuries of paddles dipping into their waters connect us with past voyagers.

Imagine gliding along the same paths once navigated by Indigenous peoples, fur traders, and explorers.

Each stroke on these historic routes casts you as a part of an ongoing story.

They're treasures that challenge and inspire, offering adventure as much as they provide a glimpse into bygone journeys.

But why trust what we're saying?

History isn't just in the books; it's out there on these waterways.

These routes are living museums, edged with the evidence of past lives and survival skills.

They've been mapped, preserved, and continue to be embraced by canoe enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Table of contents


Northern Forest Canoe Trail, New York to Maine

Ever dreamed of retracing the paddle strokes of ancient Native Americans?

Well, you're in luck!

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is your time machine to history.

This historic 740-mile trek, connecting New York to Maine, is more than just a path through water.

It's a journey where every stroke pulls you through centuries of tradition.

Starting in Old Forge, New York and ending up in Fort Kent, Maine, did you know you'll be navigating the same waterways that were vital to Native Americans, and later to settlers and guides? 740 miles of paddling awaits you through a natural tunnel of forests, over mountain-touched lakes, and across a tapestry of states—New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Here's a splash of what you'll find:

  • Scenic Landscapes: Expect a stunning backdrop of Northeastern wilderness.
  • Historic Waterways: You're on the trail of history with every push and pull through these waters.
  • Diverse Experiences: From tranquil flatwater to the thrill of whitewater, there's something for every level of adventurer.

Imagine gliding through serene forests, your canoe flanked by towering mountains—feels like you've stepped into an adventure novel, doesn't it?

Whether you're paddling for a day or taking on the whole trail, you're part of the ongoing story of this trail.

So, are you ready to make some history?

Grab your paddle, your spirit for adventure, and hit the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.

It's not just a bucket-list experience; it's a chapter in the story of your life that you'll never forget.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota

Ever paddled through a maze of lakes intertwined with trails that feel like secret passages?

Welcome to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in Minnesota — where adventure whispers with each paddle stroke.

This is your chance to explore over one million acres of unspoiled wilderness.

Did you know the BWCAW stretches almost 150 miles along the U.S.-Canada border?

Pretty impressive, right?

You're looking at 1,200 miles of canoe routes, over 2,000 lakes and streams, and around 1,500 miles of hiking trails to choose from.

Trust me, there's no chance of boredom here.

  • Area Size: Over 1,000,000 acres
  • Lakes and Streams: Over 2,000
  • Canoe Routes: 1,500 miles
  • Campsites: Approximately 2,200

Let's talk history for a sec — this land was traveled long before it became a hotspot for paddlers like you and me.

The Ojibwe people, fur traders, and voyageurs all navigated these waters, leaving behind a legacy of exploration.

Thinking about dipping your paddles in the same waters as these historic travelers?

Chills, right?

Oh, and get this: each year, more than 150,000 visitors take to these clear waters for some canoeing action.

Will you be one of them?

Grab your map and gear up for the kind of trip where every turn could lead to a new discovery.

Here's a pro tip for you: Always pack out what you pack in — let’s keep the BWCAW pristine for centuries more.

Ready to make waves in your very own historical journey?

BWCAW in Minnesota is not just a trip; it's a timeless adventure waiting for you.

Happy paddling!

Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Maine

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to paddle through channels stitched across the tapestry of Maine's wilderness?

Wave hello to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway!

This ribbon of lakes and rivers was once the superhighway for Native Americans and later, fur traders.

Cool, right?

Today, this 92-mile stretch is your key to adventure.

Imagine dipping your paddle into crystal-clear waters, navigating a chain of lakes, ponds, and the northward-flowing Allagash River.

Let's talk numbers: from the headwaters at Telos or Allagash lakes, you're in for over 90 miles of paddling bliss before you hit the town of Allagash.

Did you know these stunning waters link up with the St.

John River right at the Canadian border?

But hey, it's not all steady cruising.

Your journey might start with a bump in the river, courtesy of a jostling van ride from Greenville—talk about making an entrance!

What's waiting for you out there?

Aside from the breathtaking views, the waterway is enveloped in history.

Ponder this while floating by: lumberjacks once sent logs drifting down these very currents.

  • Launch Points: Telos or Allagash lakes
  • Termination: Town of Allagash, by the St. John River
  • Key Feature: A lively corridor of lakes, ponds, streams, and river

Don't feel rushed, though.

Maine’s got rules unique to the waterway, aimed at keeping this gem pristine.

But worry not!

They're just there to make sure the Allagash remains wild.

And for an extra sprinkle of wonderment, part of this trail winks at the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail.

So, are you ready to write your own chapter in this waterway's storied waters?

Grab that paddle, friend, it's time to make some ripples!

Missouri River, Montana to Missouri

Ever wondered what it would be like to paddle through history on the longest river in the United States?

Let me tell you, the Missouri River offers exactly that: a chance to trace the strokes of legendary explorers, all while being embraced by the stunning natural beauty of Montana to Missouri.

Did you know that the Missouri River spans over a remarkable 2,341 miles?

That's a lot of adventure waiting for you!

If you're eager to relive the days of Lewis and Clark, various segments of the river offer a historical path that's remained largely unchanged.

Imagine floating past where the Corps of Discovery once camped, or where Native Americans traversed long before.

Here's a snapshot of what you can experience:

  • Historical Sights: Native American rock art, old pioneer homesteads, and the campsites of Lewis and Clark.
  • Landscape: From the rugged cliffs in the Upper Missouri to the rolling hills as you approach the Mississippi River.
  • Wildlife: Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles and bighorn sheep!

Paddling this river isn't just a journey; it's a voyage through time.

Whether you opt for a 4-day trip or decide to challenge yourself with 102 miles of exploration, the price is worth every penny.

Think about it: starting at around $1100 per person, with discounts available for youngsters 12 and under.

What a steal for a timeless experience!

Alright, ready to plan your historical paddle?

Here’s what to look out for:

  • Choose Your Adventure: Whether it's a short trip or an extended expedition, there's something for everyone.
  • Pack Your Curiosity: Each bend in the river has a story. Don't miss the mile-by-mile historical events marked in the guidebooks.
  • Prepare to Unwind: Relax and absorb the words of Meriwether Lewis about the “scenes of visionary enchantment”.

Just imagine dipping your paddle into the same waters that have shaped history, with boundless skies overhead and whispers of the past in the wind.

Ready to make memories?

The Missouri River is calling your name!

Susquehanna River, New York to Maryland

Ever wondered what it's like to paddle through history?

You can do exactly that on the Susquehanna River, a waterway that has seen Native Americans and early European settlers navigate its flow.

Starting from upstate New York, this 444-mile-long river makes its way to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

Why is this route famous?

Well, besides its historical charm, modern paddlers like you are treated to picturesque scenery and a chance to spot some wildlife.

It’s like a journey through a living postcard!

The river's course has venues along US Route 15 in Pennsylvania and crosses at Owego, New York.

You might ask, "What's special about paddling here?" Imagine connecting with the past, where every stroke of your paddle treads the same path as those before you.

Plus, the Susquehanna River is the longest in the Eastern United States and holds the title of the 16th longest in the country.

Wait, there's more!

The river forms from two main branches that meet in Sunbury, Pennsylvania.

To your left, you've got the North Branch flowing from Cooperstown, New York.

To your right is the West Branch rising from Carrolltown, Pennsylvania.

Both branches offer unique vistas and experiences.

No need to worry about getting bored because every bend brings a new adventure.

Remember those canals from yesteryears?

Sections like the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal parallel the river and whisper tales from the 1800s, when they provided a bustling interstate shipping alternative.

So grab your canoe and be part of the living history of the Susquehanna River.

Who knows what you'll discover along the way?

Adirondack Canoe Route, New York

Hey there, water adventurer!

Have you ever heard of a journey that combines history, endurance, and nature's artwork?

Well, let me introduce you to the Adirondack Canoe Route in New York, a treasure for paddlers like you.

This historic path is a part of the much acclaimed "90-Miler" Adirondack Canoe Classic, taking you through a stunning mix of lakes, rivers, and those all-important portages.

Imagine skimming across the water as early guides and Native Americans did, truly experiencing the wilderness.

  • Long Lake to Tupper Lake: Set aside 3-4 days for this segment if you're keen on a classic lake and scenic river trip, complete with a portage to test your mettle.
  • Saint Regis Canoe Area: Fancy exploring numerous small ponds? Out here, routes abound, like the storied Nine Carries Route, stretching 12-15 miles!
  • Seven Carries: Don't miss this one, starting from Paul Smith's Hotel to the Saranac Inn. It's history bundled with natural beauty.

I bet you're curious about what you'll see along the way!

You're looking at the kind of picturesque landscapes that make you pinch yourself to ensure it's real.

Remember, you're not just on any trip; you're tracing the paddle strokes of those from the 19th century!

And with almost sixty bodies of water in the St.

Regis Canoe Area alone, who knows what secrets you'll uncover?

So, grab that paddle and your sense of wonder, and embark on a journey where every stroke tells a story.

Happy paddling!

Everglades Wilderness Waterway, Florida

Have you ever imagined gliding through a maze of mangroves, where every paddle stroke takes you deeper into the heart of Florida's natural beauty?

The Everglades Wilderness Waterway is your chance to do just that.

This path isn't just a stroke of adventure; it's a journey through time, tracing the water trails of Native Americans and early settlers.

Starting in either Flamingo or Everglades City, this 99-mile escapade winds through a stunning landscape that is as challenging as it is beautiful.

Why 99 miles, you ask?

Well, because nature didn't cut any corners when it sketched this masterpiece!

Most adventurers take at least eight days to complete the trail.

But trust me, every day you spend out there, surrounded by sawgrass marshes and listening to the wildlife, will have you wishing for more.

  • Is it for everyone? Nope. If you're new to paddling, this isn't your training ground. It's recommended solely for experienced paddlers.
  • Planning ahead: A must! You'll need to sort out vehicle shuttling if you're planning a one-way trip.
  • Wildlife Galore: Expect to see alligators, a plethora of birds, and if you're lucky, a manatee might just grace you with its presence.

If you wish to combine camping with paddling, the coastal regions of the park await with designated campsites.

Remember, always call the rangers ahead at 239-232-0057 for any help with planning or inquiries.

So, pack your gear, brush up on your paddling skills, and dive into an adventure where each bend in the river brings a new discovery.

Are you ready to follow the whispers of history and embark on the Everglades Wilderness Waterway?

Get set, all you trailblazers, this waterway awaits your stories!

Green River, Utah

Ever wondered what routes the pioneers and Native Americans paddled through?

The Green River in Utah is a time capsule that lets you glide in the wake of history.

With origins high in the Wyoming mountains, it meanders into Utah, carving through canyons and welcoming adventurers of all levels.

Did you know?

The famed explorer John Wesley Powell journeyed down this river in 1869!

You can still paddle through parts of his route, especially the tranquil stretches of Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons.

These sections boast calm waters, making them perfect for families and those new to paddling.

Here's a snapshot of what you'll encounter on the Green River:

  • Flatwater Paddling: Ideal for canoeing, the river offers serene flatwater sections, a delight for those of you seeking peacefulness away from the rapid thrills.
  • Jaw-Dropping Scenery: Prepare to be captivated by spires, hoodoos, and towering orange walls that tell a story millions of years in the making.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Keep your eyes peeled for herons, beavers, and maybe the occasional river otter!

Feeling the call of the wild?

Most adventurers embark on a 3-5 day canoe trip to soak in the full splendor of the canyons.

Trust me; you'll want every minute you can get.

And here's a pro tip: Climate-wise, aim for spring or fall.

Temperatures will be just right, not too scorching or frigid, allowing for a comfortable journey and ample time to explore.

The river flow varies, but on an average day, you might see it cruising at about 7,000 to 15,000cfs—that's cubic feet per second, folks!

So grab that paddle and let's make waves on a historical route that's been a favorite for centuries.

Are you ready to trace the strokes of legends and create some epic stories of your own on the Green River?

Mississippi River, Minnesota to Louisiana

Have you ever imagined yourself slicing through the waters of America’s most iconic river?

The Mississippi River calls out to the adventurer in all of us, and rightfully so.

Stretching from Minnesota to Louisiana, this waterway has been paddled for generations, offering a mix of history and wilderness.

Starting Point:

  • Headwaters: Lake Itasca, Minnesota

Did you know the Mississippi River winds through 10 states before spilling into the Gulf of Mexico?

That's right, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana all share this historic river, framing the continental divide.

Here’s what to expect on your journey:

  1. Length: Approx. 2,320 miles
  2. Sections:
  1. Upper Mississippi River: From Lake Itasca to Minneapolis boasting a 486-mile adventure.
  2. Other identifiable sections include the Middle Mississippi and the Lower Mississippi, each offering unique experiences and sights.

What's more exciting than traversing a route steeped in history?

The river was a key player during the Civil War, and following the path by canoe lets you appreciate these waters, once described by Lincoln as "The Father of Waters."

Wildlife & Environment:

  • Flyway: An essential corridor for migratory birds, you'll likely encounter an array of winged wildlife.
  • Scenery: Expect diverse natural landscapes, from the rugged bluffs of the northern states to larger-than-life deltas as you head south.

Equipment Rentals:

  • Running River Canoe Rental in Missouri
  • Akers Ferry Canoe Rental and Jacks Fork Canoe Rental might just be your starting points for an epic journey.

Traveling by canoe down the Mississippi carries echoes of history mingled with modern adventure.

Paddlers continue to be captivated by the call of this water path — will you be next to paddle these waters from source to sea?

St. Croix River, Minnesota/Wisconsin

Ever paddled where history flows as strongly as the river itself?

The St.

Croix River, bordering Minnesota and Wisconsin, is your chance to do just that!

Formerly traveled by Native Americans and fur traders, its currents are ripe with heritage.

Fancy a journey down a river that's more than just water and banks?

Here’s what you need to know about this historical water trail:

  • Designation: It’s not just any river; it’s a National Scenic Riverway. Yep, that means it’s recognized for its natural beauty and recreational value. Who doesn’t love a bit of prestige with their paddle?
  • Scenery: Expect to be wowed by dense, northern mixed hardwood forests and wildlife. It’s a treat for the eyes and the soul, with each stroke of the paddle bringing a new stunning vista.
  • Paddling: Whether you’re gripping a kayak or canoe paddle, the St. Croix has you covered. This river boasts 200 miles of paddle-friendly waters.
  • Accessibility: Outfitters along the way have your back with equipment and shuttles. No canoe? No problem. Want to leave your car behind? They’ve got shuttle services for that.
  • On-shore Enjoyment: Interstate State Park, with its intriguing glacial potholes and rock formations, provides a unique backdrop for riverside camping or a picnic break.

Remember, this isn’t just a river; it’s a liquid timeline where every ripple tells a story.

Why not dip your paddle in these historical waters and let the St.

Croix carry you through a piece of the past?

Just imagine the stories that old river could tell if it could talk!