After 20 years of collaboration, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail continues to maintain and promote a 740-mile water trail running from the Old Forge, New York, to Fort Kent, Maine. The trail serves as an established route that connects landscapes and communities across the Northern Forest from New York, Vermont, Quebec, and New Hampshire to Maine. It is the longest in-land water trail in the nation and consists of 23 rivers and streams, 59 lakes and ponds, 45 communities, and 65 portages.
As stewards of this waterway, NFCT works to create a water trail that invites adventure by providing regularly updated trail maps, developing recommended trips on adjacent waterways, and hosting events that focus on helping people find community on the water.The NFCT relies on their diverse team—from board members, staffers, volunteers, and partnerships—to carry out their work in stewardship and promotion.
With their 20th year underway, NFCT released their 2020-2022 strategic plan that reaffirms their commitment to sharing the Northern Forest waterways. Part of that plan entails mitigating human impacts on landscape from paddling through ongoing maintenance of portages, access points and campsites, as well as construction of new infrastructures to improve paddling and trailside communities. The NFCT will work along side environmental protection experts, landowners, and paddlers to enhance the best experience for all.
By providing high-quality trip planning tools, hosting events and supporting youth paddling, NFCT hopes to engage their community with the Northern Forest to new levels. Much of this engagement will come from increased information to support paddling access to wildlands and other communities of the region. The NFCT also encourages paddlers to share stories that celebrate the joys and challenges of traveling the waterways and the important role individuals, businesses, and partners play in keeping the waterway maintained and accessible.
A promise of the new plan is to build and maintain relationships with individuals, government agencies, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and private founders in order to maximize impact. As a move on this part of the plan, NFCT and Adirondack Watershed Alliance are working towards a transfers of AWA events and activities to NFCT’s care by the launch of the 2021 paddling season. With much of these events already taking place on the trail’s waterway, the NFCT serves as a responsible and logical new host.
Even with new plans, the integrity of NFCT remains; in fact part of the strategic plan is to build from their foundation while remaining responsive to program changes and community exceptions. As in years past, the NFCT will continue to host screenings of the World Tour Paddling Film Festival in the spring. They will also continue to provide opportunities for volunteers to participate as stewards of their waterways.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail’s humble work continues to be fueled by the people and places it serves. Cheers to 20 years, NFCT!