Rangely to Umbagog, Maine

Morley Pinsent

canoeist & canoe nut
I have been looking over the maps with a thought toward doing part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Taking 3 or 4 days from Rangely through Mooselookmeguntic, Richardson and Umbagog Lakes sounds and looks like an interesting trip. Anyone have any experience with the area? How busy would they be during the summer? Are the portages "cart friendly"? Are there shuttle possibilities back to Rangely to pick up the truck? Sorry for all the questions, am really flying in the dark regarding this part of the country.

Hi Morley:

I grew up in Rangeley, but I haven't lived there is quite some time. My reply may be dated.

The lakes do not get very busy. There is some power boat traffic, but it is not the zoo that some other New England Lakes experience.

These are BIG Lakes and the winds can get very strong in the early afternoon. Don't plan long crossings etc in the wind.

Rapid River is a white water run that is dam controlled. There is a tote road portage trail along the river.

I'm not sure about a shuttle. You could call these folks and ask if they run a shuttle:


I'm not sure of the camping options. The Northern Forest Folks would know best, and I'm sure sites are shown on their maps. Umbagog has nice sites. There is also a campground in Cupsuptic. Some camping on Mooselookmeguntic too. Rangeley Lake State Park has a campground.

Sorry, not much to go on. I really should spend more time there. I hope to get up there and use the sailing canoe more this summer. If you need more info let me know.

I’ve done Mooselookmeguntic and Richardson on one trip, then the Magalloway down to Umbagog. But not Rangeley. Sites on Moose are managed by Stephen Phillips Memorial Preserve: reservations required. They’re nice. Remote primitive Richardson sites are managed privately for the state by South Arm Campground, a huge horrible campground at the southern tip. Connection between Richardson and Umbagog is the Rapid River, which has some class III, as I recall, and is pretty much a portage. Louise Rich Dickinson’s We Took to The Woods was based on the Rapid River area. Heed what Fitz says about winds. The lakes trend northwest to southeast, so they can howl.
Thanks Fitz and Larry for the info.

Sounds like it may be an interesting new trip. Always try to paddle at least a couple of new and different places each year -- this will likely be one of them.

We did these lakes as father/son father/daughter excursions with kids as young as 10 or so. So the idea was not to burn the kids out with 10 hours in the bow seat, but paddle half a day and then give them lots of campfire time. Paddling just lakes can be a bit like driving around in a vacant mall lot--you wonder where you're going to. There are other Maine trips, like Moose River Bow trip, that may suit you better, if a day in the canoe is your pleasure. Also the fact that sites must be reserved can cramp your itinerary. Sometimes, winds being what they are, you can't move on when the schedule calls for it. We got absolutely pinned on an island in southern Moose by gale force winds, for example.