Neal Moore in Final Stage of Canoe Journey Across U.S.

Neal Moore, 50, began his canoe across America in February 2020. His project will see him paddle 12,000km along 22 rivers and through 22 states from Oregon to New York. He averages 40km a day. After 20 months, he has covered over 11,000km and is in his final state.

But as Moore closes on the end of the trail, an unexpected obstacle has arisen: The New York State Canal System closed on October 13. This has forced him to embark on a 170-mile portage from Syracuse to Albany. He is using wheels and a harness to pull his laden canoe along the Erie Canalway Trail.

“I’m really looking forward to the Hudson River at Albany and to be able to put my canoe back in the water,” he told the Eagle News. He hopes to cross his finish line, at the Statue of Liberty, on December 14.

Photo: @riverjournalist


Hell and high water

The “modern-day Huckleberry Finn” was well aware that kayaking would be quicker, but he enjoys the tradition of open canoes.

COVID-19 made his journey much more solitary in sections than he had planned. Once, he was completely alone for nine days. He has come face to face with bull sharks, alligators, and grizzlies. But the biggest challenge has been the water itself.

“I have been through hell and high water,” he said.

Photo: @riverjournalist


Moore tries to be cautious, but even after almost two years, a river can still catch him off guard. Just a few weeks ago, he dumped in his canoe on Lake Erie when the water became too rough.

During the long-term project, he has had care packages of food and equipment sent to various drop-off points across the country. Most of the time, he has camped and eaten freeze-dried food. He admits that it has been wonderful when fellow boaters offered him “an ice-cold beer or pop”.

Neal Moore has been collecting signatures and messages from those he has met along his journey. Photo:


Despite the COVID wet blanket, meeting people has remained a huge part of the journey. He had wanted to make this a two-year, slow journalism exercise. Instead, he has been documenting conversations with people from all walks of life.

“I’ve attempted to listen to people and learn…. When you add up all of our stories, you are left with this beautiful tapestry and the story of America.”