From drifting placidly along rivers or lakes to serious 500-mile trips, canoe camping provides the romantic scenery of backpacking without the load on your back. We talked to Darren Bush, the self-styled Chief Paddling Evangelist at Rutabaga Paddlesports and founder of the blog Canoelover.com about some beginner tips and epic trips.
"Some people assume that humans have a gene that allows them to paddle a canoe," said Bush. "But in reality it takes some time and training." Bush stresses dry bags as a pivotal piece of equipment for all canoers. "Anything that can be remotely affected by water needs to be bagged," he said. "Trash bags can be OK, but you really don't want to put your sleeping bag in one of those. You can never have too many dry bags."
Bush described the Lake Country in his home state of Wisconsin as his favorite place for canoe camping. Here are some of his favorite trips in other parts of the US and Canada.
The Willamette River is one of the main tributaries of the Columbia River. Stretching from Eugene to Portand, Oregon, it's dotted by more than 40 campgrounds. Flowing through the parks and forests of Cascadia as well as cities and towns, the Willamette's current ranges from placid to dynamic, making it a challenge for beginners and experienced paddlers.
Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Northeast States
A network of 22 rivers and over 50 lakes and ponds, the 700-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail flows from the Adirondack Mountains of New York to the far north of Maine. The trail is accessible to less ambitious paddlers, as its route passes through a number of small towns and communities that can be used as take outs and put ins.
Straddling Nunavut and Northwest Territories, The Thelon River is about as far off the grid as you can go in North America. Unlike the Willamette and Northern Forest Trail, it's possible to paddle the Thelon's entire length without seeing another person. Grizzly bears, moose, white wolves, and wolverines will be your company for this epic float.
--Images courtesy of iStockphoto/Wildnerdpix/llhoward/Warren_Price
Callum Beals is an editorial intern at Sierra. he recently graduated from UC Santa Cruz where he studied history and literature. He enjoys hiking, camping, and waking up at ungodly hours to watch soccer games.