Outdoor Life Online Editor

Forget I-95. And forget the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The route to plan this summer is a 740-mile water trail linking Maine to New York. There’s no congestion and there’s plenty of bucolic scenery. That’s why the Northern Forest Canoe Trail is fast becoming the hot destination for paddlers. Savvy anglers will want in on the action, too.

The trail follows Native American routes in waterways from Old Forge, N.Y., across Vermont, a bit of Quebec and New Hampshire into Fort Kent, Maine. Finishing touches-like campsites, signs and access areas-will be completed by 2006, but the trail is open now for fishing and paddling through some of the most stunning regions in the East.

Passing through 22 rivers and streams and 56 lakes and ponds, the canoe and kayak trail offers superb fishing opportunities. Start first in New York at Fulton Chain Lakes, using the town of Inlet as a base. There’s a wide variety of fish to catch here, but tiger muskies in excess of 40 inches are the real darlings of the chain.

Fishing in Maine is the Eastern equivalent of fishing a Wyoming trout stream. The bulk of the state is untapped wilderness with hundreds of waters brimming with wild trout. The Rapid River, on the eastern end of Umbagog Lake near the New Hampshire border, is a flyfishing-only waterway where landlocked Atlantics and brook trout abound. On the last leg of the journey, wet a line in the Allagash River. Slicing through remote and wild regions of northern Maine, the Allagash is a brook trout paradise.

The entire route has been paddled-an Outward Bound instructor did it in 2000. Now somebody needs to step forward and fish the whole thing. Up for it? Check out www.northernforestcanoetrail.org.

The 740-mile route of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail covers 22 rivers and 56 lakes or ponds. Pack a variety of fishing lures, from soft- plastics for the lakes to crankbaits for deep rivers.