The Northern Forest Canoe Trail
Through-Paddler's Companion

A guidebook to paddling the 740-mile water trail from its western terminus in Old Forge, New York to the eastern terminus in Fort Kent, Maine.

260 pages. By Katina Daanen

1) Old Forge, NY to Raquette Lake

Sample Segment Description

While most paddlers will likely tackle the first day of the trail less aggressively, it is possible to travel 20 or more miles in one day, especially if you start early in the morning and the wind is in your favor. The most popular stopping points for commemorating the end to your first day tend to be the primitive lean-to sites on Seventh Lake or Eighth Lake, or the Eighth Lake State Campground. Once you leave Eighth Lake, you are committed to continuing on to Raquette Lake or paddling one mile off the route in order to camp at the Browns Tract Pond State Campground on Lower Pond.

Two of the three portages within this segment make these stopping points desirable-you can either tackle them first thing in the morning or "get them over with" before stopping.

Depending on the day of the week and the time of the year, expect to find yourself among motorized boats and jets skis. The shorelines here are dotted with docks, vintage camps and lakeside cottages throughout this section. Development thins out in Seventh Lake and several beautiful lean-to sites are located on the north shore and island.

Overnight accommodations are available in Inlet and Raquette Lake, but may require advance reservations. Most of the state managed campsites of Alger Island and Eighth Lake State Campground are by reservation only and may not have openings on busy summer weekends. Alger Island's registration and permit station is located at the boat landing off South Shore Road along Fourth Lake and the park office for Eighth Lake State Campground is a good hike away from the sites by the Highway 28 entrance.

Portage Details

#1) Inlet to Sixth Lake: Wheelable
.4 miles between Fifth and Sixth lakes. After weaving your way through the channel behind Inlet businesses off of Fourth Lake, you emerge into the very tiny Fifth Lake. The portage trailhead is located past a private lean-to on the far southern shore. This is a good first test to see how the wheels work on a less-than-level surface and is a taste of some of the portages ahead-many of which will be rougher and longer. After emerging from the woods, follow the sidewalk up the hill along Highway 28. Your calf muscles may start to feel the first burn of the trip. The portage is well marked to Sixth Lake. Take care crossing busy Route 28.

#2) Seventh Lake to Eighth Lake: Wheelable
1 mile through Eighth Lake State Campground. Follow the well-marked gravel campground road from the beach area to the boat landing on Eighth Lake. Take advantage of the opportunity to fill up water bottles here.

#3) Browns Tract: Wheelable
1.3 miles from Eighth Lake to Raquette Lake. From the north end of the lake, the portage trailhead passes the set back lean-to and leads through the woods. Route 28 is occasionally visible on your right. While the trail is uneven and there are roots, unless there are downed trees, the relatively smooth trail is wheelable. The portage ends with a boardwalk and small pier into Brown's Tract.

NFCT Map: 1
Total Miles: 20
Milepost: 20
Portages: 3
Type of Watercourse(s): 8 lakes and
1 downstream creek

Points of Interest

  • Photo Op/Sign-In: Western Terminus Kiosk in Old Forge
  • Historic dams at Fulton and Sixth Lakes
  • Shoal Point Lighthouse on the southwest shore of Fourth Lake
  • Browns Tract


Old Forge, NY
Grocery Store, Outfitter, Shuttles, Restaurants, Lodging, Camping, Library, Post Office, Bank

Inlet, NY
Grocery Store (Seasonal), Restaurants, Lodging, Library, Laundromat, Post Office, ATM

Raquette Lake Hamlet, NY
General Store, Restaurant, Lodging, Library,
Post Office

Overnight Options and Distances From Old Forge, NY

Fourth Lake 5.5 Miles
Alger Island state campground, lean-tos (fees)
Inlet, NY 10.5 Miles
B & Bs, motel(s)
Seventh Lake 15 Miles
Eighth Lake 16.5 Miles
State campground, lean-tos (fees)
Lower Pond 20 Miles
Browns Tract Pond state campground (fees)
Raquette Lake Hamlet 20 Miles
Raquette Lake 21.5 Miles
Big Island campsites, inn, cabins

The information contained within this publication is the result of the best efforts of the author using information obtained from personal experience, interviews, paddler blogs, trail data and facts available at the time of publication. Changes in environment and economics are constantly occurring and therefore, information cannot be guaranteed to be precisely accurate. This book is not a substitute for outdoor skills or good personal judgment. Any outdoor recreational activity is potentially hazardous. Each user of the information presented on this website or in this book must accept personal responsibility for his or her own safety and orientation. Always wear a pfd.

All rights reserved. No portions of the content of this website or the guidebook may be reproduced without the express written consent of the author or publisher. Illustrations and photography remain the rights of Katina Daanen or any other credited contributors.

© 2023 NFCT Paddler