An adventure for all ages
The Moose Loop / Bow Trip adventure was my first real canoe trip experience. We were planning to paddle the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in August and I wanted to get some experience paddling before taking on the AWW challenge so we headed out to Jackman to paddle the Moose River Loop / Bow Trip.
Choose your route
I call the trip the Moose River Loop / Bow Trip for two reasons. Most of the locals in the area call it the “Bow Trip” which involves starting at the landing on Holeb Pond and paddling to the landing at Attean Pond. You need to have someone bring your vehicle from one location to the other, or use two vehicles. Registered Maine Guides usually transport vehicles from one spot to the next for a fee. The “Moose River Loop” or just “Moose Loop” makes a complete circuit, from Attean Pond landing back to Attean Pond landing, no vehicle transportation needed! The loop is incredibly fun but brings some challenges.
Improve your portaging skills
The Moose River Loop involves paddling across Attean Pond to the first portage that will take you to Holeb Pond. The portage is relatively challe1.25-mile5 mile hike through the woods over stumps, rocks and up hills. You won’t be able to use a kayak cart on this trail- believe me, we watched a few folks try it! After the portage, you’ll paddle Holeb Pond for a while until you reach your campsite or decide to head on towards Moose River. We decided to stay the night on Holeb and get a fresh start the next morning. From Holeb the fun begins as you pass under a bridge and head towards the Moose River.
Paddle the Moose River
Winding through remote wilderness is the Moose River, appropriately named. Small sandbars can be found along the riverbanks with huge moose tracks on them. We were lucky to see one moose eating at the edge of the river on our second day of the trip.
The river has everything from simple rips to Class I-II rapids, most of which run for short stretches of the river.
There are many fantastic campsites along the river. Each one has a fire ring and picnic table for adventurers to use. There are several other portages, although none are as brutal as the portage between Attean and Holeb ponds.
Pay attention near No. 5 Bog
The Moose River passes by No. 5 Bog, one of the biggest peat bogs in Maine and a National Natural Landmark. As you paddle past the section of river that borders the bog you stand a pretty good chance to encounter a moose. We did!
Heading back to Attean Pond
The last leg of the journey is relatively easy as you hit a few small portages and then follow the river to Attean Pond. Make sure you have your compass because the islands on Attean blend in really well with one another and make it challenging to tell the difference between the shore and a group of islands.
Moose River Loop & Bow Trip Adventure Series
Angela and Henry paddled the Moose River Loop/Bow Trip in July 2016. Angela documented their entire adventure and wrote about it. Their trip was full of challenges and adventure, from paddling in high waves to no campsite availability, and even a canoe crash in rapids. The crash broke their thwart, but not their spirits. All was well worth the challenge, including a moose sighting and incredible natural beauty you won’t find anywhere else. Their trip started and ended at Attean Pond Landing.
Check out the Moose River Loop & Bow Trip adventure series:
Canoeing the Moose River Loop | Bow Trip: Day 1
Canoeing the Moose River Loop | Bow Trip: Day 2
Canoeing the Moose River Loop | Bow Trip: Day 3, Part One
Canoeing the Moose River Loop | Bow Trip: Day 3, Part Two
Canoeing the Moose River Loop | Bow Trip: Day 4