First timer destinations?

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Home Forums Off Piste Packrafting First timer destinations?

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    Alex G
    BPL Member


    Hey y’all! I caught the packrafting bug pretty hard and I’m obsessing over youtube videos trying to plan my first trip. I wonder if y’all have any suggestions… Here are my criteria:

    • Relatively flat water – no rapids.
    • 2.5-3 hours from a major airport or 6-7 hours from NYC
    • 3 night trip with ~20 miles of hiking (~10 mile days) and about 8 hours of easy boating (not sure how many miles this is).
    • Not crowded.
    • Beautiful.
    • In season either the first week of august or the last week of october.

    I’m intrigued by the northern forest canoe trail, the ozarks, glacier national park and all of the desert south west…

    Luke Schmidt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Alaska

    The Adirondacks might be a good shake down. I actually thought boating has been restricted in Glacier lately.

    If you are going to packraft you want to get comfortable with at least some rapids.

    I’d suggest an easy trip on Adirondack lakes to work out your gear. Then find a safe river to do day trips on to practice rapids with low consequences.

    Lakes can be fun but packrafts are really made for rivers. Get a GPS that is NOT touch screen (those don’t work wet). Download waypoints for all suspicious rapids. Learn to stop and scout.



    Second the St. Regis area. You can mess around all you’d like, learn how to pack/carry your raft, do a good gear shakedown.

    Ken Larson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Michigan

    Isle Royal National  Park incompases you given above. August last two week if you plan venturing on Lake Superior as winds become an issue later in September. Few packrafters compared to canoe and kayaks.


    Michael Sirofchuck
    BPL Member


    Locale: Great Wet North

    Please read this book in its entirety before going on a packrafting trip.  You won’t regret it.

    BPL Member


    You could always paddle down the Delaware River. There are plenty of sweet spots right off the river where you can camp. We did about 22 miles or so over 2 days.. kayaking.. ended up at Delaware Water Gap.. but you can start way further up the river and make a longer trip. There are some minor class 1 rapids that are easy to navigate and fun at same time.. I believe if you go further up river there are class 2 rapids, again though.. they are fairly short and nothing really hard to run. You can get a shuttle also if you need. Only hiking though would be at Delaware Water Gap.. really nice to pick up the Appalachian Traik there if you wanted too.

    German Tourist
    BPL Member


    Locale: in my tent

    I was a packrafting rookie myself and did my first trip in the BWCA area! I absolutely loved it. You will be a star in a packraft because everyone else will be in a canoe. Because of the great infrastructure with campsites this is ideal for beginners and you will have a big advantage when it comes to portages. The Kekekabic Trail and the Border Route Trail run right through the BWCA so you can combine hiking with packrafting. Please keep in mind that the prevailing wind direction is from the Northwest, so don’t make my mistake and paddle Eastbound!

    There are plenty of outfitters who can shuttle you but it is even possible to get there by public transport with Arrowhead Transit. You will need a permit. When I applied for it the rangers at Grand Marais did not even know what a packraft is! I ended up with a hiking permit which is great advantage: Paddling permits are often sold out for popular entry points whereas hiking permits are more easily obtained.

    David Thomas
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    I’m always pointing out that the OTHER wilderness canoeing area is on the Kenai Peninsula (2.5 hours from ANC) and you could spend an afternoon, day, weekend or month out there.  My favorite, mix-it-up trip is across the 7 lakes, 1-2 miles each, with 1/4 to 1/2 mile portages, then 20 miles down the Swanson River to take in Captain Cook State Park on the SE shores of Cook Inlet.  It’s a leisurely 3-day/2-night trip, a sporty 2-days, or a single long brutal day (some people will never go canoeing with me again).  I could probably set up a car shuttle for you.  I’m doing that for California friends in 10 days.

    It’s got lakes, beaver dams, and a small trickle that becomes a small river.  Some current but no white water.  Trout, silver salmon, moose, eagles, and rarely any bears.   

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