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Canoe Trip

A canoe trip can be a half-day, full day or overnight.

A canoe trip is a great adventure. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
A canoe trip is a great adventure.

Canoe Trip

A canoe trip can be a great way to explore the outdoors while engaging in healthy physical activity. Although some canoe trips are a relaxing way to simply enjoy nature and wildlife, especially for someone with walking limitations, other canoe trips require stamina and canoeing skill. Most states have trips that range from a Saturday afternoon of cruising down a local river to venturing into the wilderness on an extended canoeing adventure.

Canoe Trip Safety

While canoeing is a fun way to get exercise and experience nature, it can be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken in advance of any trip. The American Canoe Association recommends filing a float plan with someone who is not going on the trip. The float plan should include information about put-in and take-out locations as well as an expected return date. In addition, there are certain things canoeists should bring on remote trips, such as a spare paddle, extra clothing, a lifejacket, a hat or helmet, maps, a whistle, a dry bag, first aid supplies, self-rescue devices, drinking water, a repair kit, duct tape, a river knife, a bailer and a light or signal.

Canoeists should not venture into rapids that are too advanced for their skill level. The U.S. Geological Survey provides daily streamflow conditions for waterways throughout the United States.

Half-Day River Trips

There are plenty of short, half-day canoeing routes throughout the United States. Some routes are on rivers with a slow current, allowing the canoeist to make a round-trip. Other routes are better for more advanced canoeists familiar with navigating rapids. The state of Florida offers several exceptional paddling trails with slower currents. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection provides a detailed list of such trails. One of the easier trails on this list is the Wakulla River trail, which has a slow current of no more than 1 mph. This short trail follows the cypress tree-lined Wakulla River, which is a relatively straight river that houses a variety of wildlife, including alligators, turtles, vultures, osprey and limpkin. The round-trip is approximately 4 miles and takes about half a day. At the end of the trip, canoeists can enjoy a picnic lunch at the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.

Another easy canoeing adventure is the Goliad Paddling Trail, along the San Antonio River in Goliad, Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife reports that this paddling trail covers 6.6 miles and takes about 2 to 4 hours to complete. The put-in for the trail is located northwest of the intersection for Highway 59 and the San Antonio River. Since the San Antonio River has no flood control dam, it may become dangerous during heavy rainstorms.

Day-long Canoe Trips

The typical day-long canoe trip is approximately 10 miles in length and can be accomplished in 4 to 5 hours, depending on water conditions and the skill of the canoeist. Many day trips are one-way adventures, which require a rental or a shuttle company to drop the canoeist off in one location and pick them up down the river at a second location. Rental companies can help canoeists gauge which rivers or launch sites most closely match their skills.

According to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, the Buffalo National River in Arkansas has several good stretches running about 7 to 10 miles in length. One of the more popular stretches falls between the city of Ponca and the Arkansas Highway 7 crossing. Stops along this route include the Hemmed-In-Hollow Waterfall, which soars over 200 feet above the river. While this is an exciting route, it does contain Class I and II rapids. An easier, family-friendly stretch runs from Arkansas 7 to Highway 123.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recommends the historic Bois Brule River in northern Wisconsin for beginning to advanced canoeists. The most popular trip puts in at Stones Bridge landing and lasts 4 to a little over 5 hours, depending on the take-out point. Whitewater canoeists can embark at Pine Tree landing for a 5-hour journey.

The Upper Colorado River in Colorado as regarded as an easy to moderate whitewater canoe trip. Cottonwood to Burt Tree Ridge is a 5-hour trip with Class I whitewater. High water occurs during the first two weeks in June, which means more intense rapids and shorter trip times.

Overnight Canoe Trips

Overnight trips combine both canoeing and camping skills. These trips are a great way to cover a long distance while enjoying the outdoors the entire time. Most overnight trips involve camping at designated campsites. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, located in the northeastern United States, offers several overnight itineraries for canoeing trips. The first is a two-day trip along the Connecticut River. The trail spans between Stratford, Conn., and Groveton, N.H. The trip's scenery includes an old wood-products mill and Brunswick Springs. Advanced canoeists might consider the Androscoggin River Adventure Itinerary, which commences at the Androscoggin River Boat Access, just below the Errol Dam in Errol, N.H. This trip starts out with some Class III rapids; however, canoeists can launch downstream, in Braggs Bay, to avoid these rapids. Camping is available at Mollidgewock State Park or the Moose Crossing and Osprey campsites.

Backcountry Canoeing Adventures

Backcountry canoeing adventures often involve primitive camping and portaging of the canoe. Good waterproof boots that do not come off in water are a must-have on such adventures. The Little Missouri River in North Dakota provides the only backcountry canoeing opportunities in the state. The put-in point is at the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP), while the take-out point is at the North Unit of the TRNP. According to the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department, canoeing time ranges from 25 to 40 hours, depending on the condition of the water and the skill of the canoeist. There are no designated campsites along this backcountry route; however, camping is permitted on U.S. Forest Service land.

The Swanson River Route of the Kenai Canoe Trails of Alaska offers an excellent backcountry camping adventure. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Swanson River Route covers 46 miles of river within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Several portages require difficult hikes. Also, camping sites can be difficult to find because of marshy land.

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