Submitted by Guest Blogger: Tyler Merriam
June is the sixth month of the year — hopefully by then you’ve uncovered your kayaks and pulled the canoe out of the garage. Paddling season has begun in earnest! To help you get on the water, several outfitters and organizations in the Saranac Lake region have teamed up to offer a variety of paddling-related activities and events. Dubbed “Celebrate Paddling ADK,” this series offers everything from Armchair Adventures on select weeknights, to on-the-water events such as the Adirondack Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Festival.
Here is a list of the top six paddling day trips in the Saranac Lake region. They also happen to be a few of my favorite trips in the northern Adirondacks as they offer some of the best sights, sunsets, and swimming money can’t buy!
Second Pond to Ampersand Bay
This may be one of the most popular trips in the region due to the convenient access points and enjoyable destinations along the way. Begin at the DEC state boat launch on Second Pond and paddle under the Route 3 Bridge, following the twists and turns of the shoreline until you reach Bluff Island in Lower Saranac Lake. I suggest landing your boat on either side of this 60 foot rock face and taking a quick hike to the top for some awesome views of Moose and McKenzie mountains and beyond.
Once back in your boat, continue northeast toward the upper end of the lake. There are plenty of places to stop for a swim, but I recommend paddling around the northern side of Eagle Island, where you’ll be greeted by the Sister Islands, which are complete with a sandy lake bottom that lines the shoreline. This trip concludes at the DEC boat launch in Ampersand Bay, just to the left of Ampersand Bay Resort and Boat Club.
Middle Saranac Lake to Second Pond
If you like beaches, this is the trip for you! Begin at the South Creek DEC boat launch, just off Route 3, and continue downstream into Middle Saranac Lake, turning right once you exit the creek. Soon you will reach the first beach; I hope you packed a towel and picnic lunch!
Once refreshed, continue along the shoreline until you reach Bullrush Bay, at which point you enter the Saranac River. Soon you will arrive at the incredibly unique hand-operated locks; if a DEC operator is not on site you have the opportunity to operate them yourself. After the locks, continue downstream toward Lower Saranac Lake and paddle in the direction of the narrows, following the southern shoreline until you reach Bluff Island. As I mentioned in the first trip, this is a great spot to stretch you legs and take in the views before you head toward the end of the trip at the DEC boat launch on Second Pond.
Second Pond to Lake Flower
For some of the best mountain views in the northern Adirondacks, this trip is a must! Start at the same boat launch as the first trip, but this time paddle away from the bridge and continue down the Saranac River until you reach the lower locks. These must be operated by a DEC employee, but you may also choose to complete a short portage on the right.
Past the locks you’ll be treated to an amazing mountain scene on Oseetah Lake, with a variety of peaks enclosing this picturesque body of water. For a spectacular sunrise, I recommend starting this trip before dawn and making it into Oseetah just as the sun is cresting the easternmost mountains. The trip ends at the DEC boat launch on Lake Flower after meandering its way through the narrows between the two lakes. Did I mention Lake Flower is the site of the Saranac Lake Cardboard Boat Race? Contact Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters for more information.
Pine Street bridge to Moose Pond footbridge
From fishing to birding, this trip has something for everyone. Begin at the Pine Street bridge, where you’ll find a small parking area beside the road. Put in just below the bridge and continue downstream. After passing under another bridge the river meanders into a large marshland with fantastic views of Whiteface, Moose, and McKenzie Mountains to your right. Keep your eyes open for a variety of shoreline and soaring birds, as well as muskrat, and even the occasional otter. Approximately two hours after you leave Pine Street you will reach Moose Pond footbridge, a green metal bridge that marks the end of the trip.
If you’re interested in helping keep this portion of the river pristine, it happens to lie on a section of the Saranac River Cleanup! To find out more about this event, contact St. Regis Canoe Outfitters.
Lake Colby circumnavigation
Many people know about the Lake Colby Beach. However, beyond the beach lies some of the best bass fishing and most convenient campsites in the Tri Lakes area, making this lake a perfect get-away-from-it-all retreat.
Park at the DEC Lake Colby boat launch, and take your pick of which direction to travel. I’m not going to write much more about this trip as I want you to discover the fishing spots for yourself. However, Lake Colby happens to be the location of the Adirondack SUP Festival, so if you would like more information about this event, or simply some advice on where to camp, contact Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters.
Lake Kiwassa to Pine Pond and back
First and foremost, the access for this trip is on private property owned by the Lake Kiwassa Shore Owners Association. They have been gracious enough to allow public use, so please make sure you park down the road rather than at the small parking area and respect the private homes on either side of the launch.
Once on the water, paddle down Lake Kiwassa and into the narrows marking the entrance to Oseetah Lake. Continue down Oseetah toward the southernmost bay until you reach a small takeout. Leave your boat here and follow the trail until you arrive at Pine Pond. You’ll be greeted by a fantastic beach that is perfect for a swim. I suggest you take a nap here as well, because the surrounding pine trees are perfectly spaced for a hammock. When you’ve had your fill, travel back the way you came and be sure to leave everything better than you found it!
For more information about any of these routes, or to arrange for boat rentals or shuttles, contact one of the local outfitters in Saranac Lake: Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters or St. Regis Canoe Outfitters. To learn more about Celebrate Paddling ADK and to view a full schedule of events, visit www.celebratepaddlingadk.com. We look forward to seeing you on the water!
In related ADK activities: