The paddle from Upper St. Regis Lake to Spitfire Lake offers the classic history buff the opportunity to see more Great Camps than anywhere else in the Adirondacks. While taking in the views it is very important to keep your distance and show respect for the private landowners. You will have the opportunity to observe common loons, Canadian geese, mergansers, seagulls and other birds. During the peak of summer, you can see the Idem sailing or docked at the various camps. The Idem is a 32-foot gaff-rigged racing sloop designed by Clinton Crane in 1899 for sailing specifically on Upper St. Regis Lake. Rabbit Island on Spitfire Lake is famous for Dr. Trudeau’s experiment he conducted with rabbits, which he inoculated with the tuberculosis bacteria. His research proved to be a landmark in the treatment of tuberculosis. Be sure to take in the view of St. Regis Mountain and the fire tower at the summit.
- Total distance: @3.5 miles round trip
- Length of time: 3+ hours
- No portage
- Flat water
- Round trip
- Motorboat access is available at Upper St. Regis Landing
- Public parking is available at designated area on St. Regis Carry Road
- Put in/take out at Upper St. Regis Lake access, to the right of the landing
Put-in at the Upper St. Regis access beach (far right of the boat landing) and paddle north across Upper St. Regis Lake. Pass Birch Island on the right or left. The old Japanese style tea house once owned by Frederick Vanderbilt can be seen on the point of the right shore before you reach Penfield Bay. Pass into Spitfire Lake and almost immediately look for Rabbit Island, which has a plaque indicating the historical significance. Paddle on into Spitfire Lake to see other Great Camps before returning back to the take out.
Recommended resource: Adirondack Paddler’s Map: St. Regis Canoe Wilderness and SRCO self-guided brochure Great Camps on Upper St. Regis Lake, found online at http://www.historicsaranaclake.org/uploads/1/1/2/1/11219947/u_st_regis_great_camps_bro.pdf