Courtesy of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway Foundation, Friends of the Allagash

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is the setting for one of America’s premier wilderness canoe trips, winding its way through the remote Maine North Woods, offering a 92-mile-long lake and river system to explore and enjoy. 

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway was established by the Maine State Legislature in 1966, and designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1970 as the first state-administered component of the National Wild and Scenic River System. 

Though its history dates back much further. The Allagash has been part of the traditional homelands of the Native American Wabanaki Confederacy dating back thousands of years and this heritage is found in the names of its places, such as Musquacook Stream and Umsaskis Lake.

In 1857, Henry David Thoreau famously visited the Allagash region guided by two members of the Penobscot Nation, Joseph Aitteon and Joe Polis. They made camp on Pillsbury Island in Eagle Lake near what is now the Thoreau campsite. 

Today, the Allagash is visited each year by thousands of recreationists and sportspeople.

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway Foundation was established in 2011 as a friends group working on resource conservation, interpretation and education, and youth engagement. 

The Allagash Explorer

The Foundation recently published the pocket-sized “Allagash Explorer, A Take-Along Companion For Maine’s Wilderness Waterway.” Guided by a schematic map of the Waterway, users experience the Allagash through a series of stories that highlight the history, ecology, and forest industry innovation that make the Waterway so special a place to visit, be inspired by and learn from. 

Designed for use in all seasons, “Allagash Explorer” differs from other guides that offer paddling and camping tips, as well as from traditional narrative histories. Its intention is to provoke connections between the user and the abundant historic, cultural and natural resources of the waterway, and to encourage visitors to record their own thoughts and observations of the waterway and its impact.

To purchase your own copy of “Allagash Explorer,” visit

Become a Friend of the Allagash

You can also join the mailing list and become a Friend of the Allagash to help support these efforts and add your name to a growing list of individuals who care about the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Visit or email for more information.

North Maine Woods – 50th Anniversary

The Friends of the Allagash offer thanks and congratulations to Al Cowperthwaite, executive director of the North Maine Woods, and his staff on this historic milestone.  

For even more information about the legendary Allagash Wilderness Waterway and planning a trip, visit

See this Section as it appeared in print here