The extensive journey of lakes, ponds and rivers from New York's Adirondacks to the northern tip of Maine has been called an Appalachian Trail for canoeists.
Just as the AT has through-hikers and section hikers—people who walk a few miles in a day or a weekend—promoters of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail say the 740-mile trip from Old Forge, N.Y., to Fort Kent, Maine, isn't just for through-paddlers.
The long chain of waterways offers plenty of day or weekend trips, too.
This Saturday is the Northern Forest Canoe Trail's second annual 740 Miles In One Day event. The Waitsfield, Vt.,-based nonprofit that promotes the trail is asking canoeists and kayakers to paddle a mile, 5 miles or however much you want to do.
To keep track, the group asks people to pre-register and log the miles you plan to do, or to tally up afterward and report the total by Monday, Aug. 1. CLICK HERE, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Last year, the organization heard from about 50 paddlers who logged about 1,500 miles along the trail as the nonprofit organization celebrated its 10th anniversary at during the June 24-25, 2010, weekend at an event in Rangeley, Maine.
"It would be great to beat the 1,500 or so we did last year," said Kevin Mack, director of partnerships and marketing for the NFCT.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail was officially opened in 2006 when all 13 maps detailing the patchwork of portages and waterways were available through the nonprofit. Last year, 10 groups paddled the entire distance from the Adirondacks, through northern sections of Vermont and New Hampshire and then upward to Maine's northern woods and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. This year, 13 groups are planning to through-paddle, with each group ranging from an individual to a few people.
The goal of Saturday's excursion isn't to get paddlers on every swampy inlet and mud-slicked portage. It's a feat of racking up miles to equal the total distance of the trail, at least. For example, 10 people traveling 10 miles each equals 100 miles.
Mack also urges people to support the local businesses along the way. Mack, 41, said he is planning to rent a boat and paddle a section of the Clyde River in Vermont with his girlfriend.
"The goal is to build it each year as a marquee event," Mack said. — MATTHEW STURDEVANT