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The Millinocket Carry, Northern Maine

The map at

Maine DOT Map Link

indicates that this may not be much of a wilderness experience. It appears that Rand Brook Road and Upper Dobsis Road cover most of the distance. The nearby Carry Farm Road indicates that this must be the right area. Good luck,

Ah, gotcha. I missed "Upper" and was thinking of a port into the main body of Dobsis near Cranberry Cove. That might work, subject to Taylor Brook being navigable way up to the last piddly beaver pond. Not sure I'd bet on that, but a look from Depot Rd would give a hint.

Just seeing this. I'm not sure how I missed this when it came out; it's really a wonderful TR and I equally enjoyed Hope's map/photo essay. That's a really cool way to do a TR.
A friend with a camp in the area has kindly offered the following comments and agreed to have them published here. "I can see where that route would have made a lot of sense to the Native Americans. I have explored this area a bit and have tried to get on Upper Sysladobsis. Rand Road is a gravel road and is quite traversable with an Outback or pickup which I did this fall. I have wanted to get on Upper Sysladobsis to explore the inlets but have been hindered by access. Delorme Map 34 shows an access on the northwest side, but I could not verify it when I first looked 4 or 5 years ago. The apparent location was close to a cabin but was in use with personal belongings. A couple of years ago, I drove thru again late in the year and there was a new landing well signed with parking so I made mental note to return. When I went back this year to put in, the signs were gone, and it looked very much like it was part of the adjacent camp property. The warden in the area said it is definitely a public access in cooperation with the Passamaquoddy. So…long story, but in short, Rand Road is accessible, and Upper Sysladobsis is as well." Tread carefully,

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Thanks guys. It's great to have fresh information on access, more than other places I visit the Downeast Lakes area sees a lot of change year to year.
Great TR. Sometimes we all need a challenge.
For paddling big lakes and rivers I insist on life jackets or I don't paddle with people.
Best use of an ESRI product I’ve seen yet!

Day 3: Moose Pond to Millimagassett Lake

I literally awoke refreshed. The previous evening I was totally spent, but food, water and sleep brought me back.

We were on the trail, heading south back to the canoe, at a quarter to 8. Our fresh legs made quick work of both the road walk and the woods travel. We had no trouble retracing our steps to the canoe, still tied to that tree near the beaver dam.

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Canoe is still where we left it

As before, Hope led and found the path while I carried the canoe. The forest had its share of awkward blowdowns and trees 32" apart, but compared to Confusion Hill it was a good portage.

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Dragging through the alder

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A walk in the park

The 1.3mi road walk section of the portage was long but uneventful. Once you get in the zone, you don't want to stop.

The theme of the back half of this trip was "defining adversity down". To get to open water on Moose Pond, we had to drag down a steep slope impeded by several large blowdowns and push through / drag over about 50 yards of dri-ki. This was so much less of a pain than dragging the canoe over Confusion Hill that it hardly even registered.

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Almost on Moose Pond

We were paddling again at 10:15am. I felt a great sense of satisfaction when the canoe was floating free on Moose Pond. We had made the crossing from the Penobscot to the Aroostook watershed. From here we were undertaking a "normal" canoe trip, on bodies of water at least mentioned in the AMC River Guide. It's all in the book.

There is a sporting camp on Millinocket Lake, and as we first emerged on the big lake we saw a float plane take off and head north. I wondered where they were going. Just a note on geography, this Millinocket Lake is unrelated to the one near the town of Millinocket, 50 miles or so to our south.

Moose Pond, Little Millinocket Lake and Millinocket Lake were all full of dri ki, and we saw few opportunities to make a rough camp or even a comfortable shore lunch. The exceptions were the passage between Moose and Little Millinocket and this gravel bar on the south side of the big lake.

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Shore lunch on a Millinocket Lake gravel bar

Unlike the view from Matagamon, the mountains on the horizon here were unfamiliar. The pointy peak in the distance is Beetle Mtn.

Continuing east down the lake, we detoured into a deep cove to enjoy the scenery. OK, actually were were looking for the dam, and this wasn't it, but it was pleasant.

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This deep cove is not the outlet

We found the dam and the portage, not marked. It might also be a snowmobile trail. It was on the north side, up the hill, right then left, down to a landing, about 0.3 miles. One big blowdown, but still very low on the trip adversity scale.

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Easy put-in on Millinocket Stream

Descending Millinocket Stream through Millinocket Falls we had a fun whitewater run, adding another flavor to this already diverse trip. The book says Millinocket Falls is class 2, scout on the left. We felt fine just reading the river from the canoe.

We planned to finish our trip on Millimagassett Lake, so below the whitewater section we knew we had to make a right turn up Millimagassett Stream. I had a waypoint and we checked the GPS several times so as not to waste any effort backtracking. Note that heading up Millimagassett Stream there is a fork about 0.25mi above the confluence. Keep right to stay on the stream leading to the lake.

The ascent up Millimagassett Stream got our legs wet but was only nominal on the adversity scale. Not as hard as the East Branch or a portage. We were in good spirits as we knew we would get to camp at a reasonable hour.

We arrived at camp on an island in Millimagassett just before 4pm. (I'd previously camped on the island at the western end of the lake, this time we were on the one closer to the outlet.) Miller Time! From here we were only a short lake paddle and .3mi road carry from a vehicle.

This was a real campsite, even noted on the DeLorme Maine Atlas. There was a big pile of firewood. It was not pristine, but a lot of the junk was decades old, so it had a lived in, dive bar vibe to it. There was a large if wobbly fire ring, two picnic tables and lots of open space. The good life.

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Campsite on Millimagassett Lake

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View west from camp; later the clouds closed in

Day 4 & afterward: Home from Millimagassett Lake

We arose to a misty morning and paddled out. Rain was in the forecast so we didn't wait around. We saw a couple of fishermen in a square stern canoe, the first people we'd seen since Matagamon. The quarter mile carry up to the parking area was easy, and soon we were on the road and on the way home.

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Back at my car on Matagamon

Looking back, this was a 4 day, 3 nite trip, less than 72 hours in the wilderness, and yet it seems like so much happened. I can't wait to do another. Still, I may need a cushy float trip to recover before taking another adventure from Canter's guide.

Have you ever finished an off-the-beaten-track trip and thought gee, wouldn't it be nice to have a map of that? Well, when you trip with a GIS expert, these things happen. Click on the map image for a slick "story map" with photos.
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Word of caution to novices: don't let the map give you the impression this is a tourist bureau approved water trail. It's an interesting historical route that can be followed with difficulty by determined paddlers.
So many comments I want to respond to. Thanks, Goonstroke for this thread. Fannie May Eckstorm describes the "Dobsy Carry" along Rand Brook, leaving it where it bends sharply north (actually it describes the carry starting directly from Passadumkeag, so it's probably a seasonal thing there), follows along and partially ascends Chamberlain Ridge to Upper Sysladobsis. She also describes the "Old Indian Route" which continues upstream to the outlet of Weir Pond, then follows the ridge back to Upper Sysladobsis. There's pretty much a road the whole way on this one but it's a lot longer. Me and Carp are planning a grand loop this May, starting on Nicatous Lake, take the Dobsy Carry, making an arc through some of the northern water bodies on the Downeast Lakes, entering Big Lake from the north. From there we'll make our way to Forth Machias Lake and follow the Gassabius Portage back to Nicatous Lake.