The Machias River, one of Maine's wildest and most cherished waterways, flows for 76 miles from Fifth Machias Lake to tidewater in downtown Machias. The State oversees stewardship and recreational use along its nearly unbroken shoreline, thanks to a remarkable effort that has protected more than 60,000 acres in the Machias River watershed-the country's largest, self-sustaining wild Atlantic salmon run. This landscape-scale conservation project, which spanned more than a decade, successfully preserved 252 miles of river and shore frontage from development and subdivision, while ensuring that the region's working forests can keep contributing to the local economy. Recreational access is guaranteed for all time, helping to maintain a scenic and popular backcountry canoe route (considered by paddlers to be more accessible than the St. John and less heavily traveled than the Allagash).
The 76-mile canoe trip (with Class I-III whitewater, appropriate for experienced paddlers) begins at Fifth Machias Lake and reaches tidewater in Machias. The upper reaches of the river, between the five lakes, are narrow and have some stretches of rapids. The trip requires a minimum of six days to do in entirety, but can be split into two three-day trips (paddling the five lakes in the headwaters in one trip and the lower river on a second trip). Less experienced paddlers should engage a guide.
Nearly all access to the headwater lakes and riverside campsites is on gravel logging roads that are generally passable from June to October (but require careful driving and a detailed map).
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