An authentic paddling destination
We're called Saranac Lake for a reason; three reasons, actually! There are three Saranac lakes — Upper, Middle, and Lower — and they're all connected by the Saranac River, which flows right through downtown. If you are interested in a day trip and don’t have the gear—no worries! Outfitters in Saranac Lake will hook you up with all your rental needs, from kayaks to canoes to SUPs. Those same outfitters also sell all the paddling gear you could ever need. If you are interested in longer trips, a licensed guide can lead the way or help plan a multi-day outing. For those looking to fully immerse themselves in a paddling adventure there are even opportunities for canoe and kayak camping near Saranac Lake, including campsites where you'll have a whole island to yourself.
There are two ways to get on the water from downtown Saranac Lake. For a paddle that boasts backcountry views without actually getting into the backcountry, put-in in the Saranac River and head downstream. If you prefer the feel of bigger water, you can start at the Lake Flower boat launch and head to Oseetah Lake, where views of mountains dominate the horizon. From Oseetah, it’s possible to go all the way to Middle Saranac Lake.
For a totally different feel, take a lazy paddle on Lake Colby, then go for a swim at the lake’s sandy beach. Be sure to stick around for sunset — this is one of the best places to see it from.
Even if you are not paddling downtown, the other lakes and ponds in the area are not very far away! Within a short drive you could be at any number of ponds: Church Pond, Osgood Pond, Moose Pond, Floodwood Pond. The choices for canoeing and kayaking near Saranac Lake are endless, and many of them are connected so you don't have to choose just one!
More to explore
Saranac Lake is surrounded by lakes and ponds, and most of them are a short drive from town. If you love to paddle and want a true taste of the Adirondacks, don’t miss the magnificent St. Regis Canoe Area. The only designated canoe area in New York state, this 18,400-acre paradise has about 50 ponds and 70 campsites within its boundaries.
For a great sampler of what the St. Regis Canoe Area holds, try the historic and popular Seven Carries route, which goes from Little Clear Pond to Lower St. Regis Lake, passing through numerous ponds on the way to the end point at Paul Smith's College. Before heading out, be aware that it is difficult to use wheeled canoe carriers on many of the trails, so be prepared to carry your gear when tackling a longer route.
Beyond the St. Regis Canoe Area, there are dozens of rivers, lakes, and ponds to explore.
For the ultimate sampler in Saranac Lake paddling, check out the new Saranac Lake Paddling Challenge! Designed to inspire paddlers of all levels, encouraging them to cherish our waterways and become mindful stewards of the environment - the Saranac Lake Paddling Challenge boasts five paddling routes on varied waterbodies, so you'll experience the diversity of Saranac Lake's paddling, while still enjoying easily accessed waterways.
Paddling festivals and events
Because paddle sports are so important to us, we celebrate it with a month-long festival! June brings Celebrate Paddling ADK, a month-long celebration of events, guided trips, and other activities centered around paddling. In 2023, Saranac Lake is hosting the Adirondack Paddling Symposium. This four day informative, fun, and educational events will put paddles in your hands and help develop skills! Stick around until July, because the paddling events just don't stop! On July 2, you'll have the chance to see some classic Adirondack Guideboats race across the water in the Willard Hanmer Guideboat and Canoe Race!
Saranac Lake is the landing spot for the 90-Miler Canoe Classic, the largest multi-day paddle sports event in the Northeast. This weekend-long race takes paddlers across the “Highway of the Adirondacks” and throughout the Blue Line, from Old Forge to Lake Flower Landing in Saranac Lake. This race is open to all levels of paddlers and all types of boats — just no boats with engines. Looking for more? The 90-Miler is just a small portion of the epic 740-mile canoe trail that takes paddlers across the Northeastern United States and parts of Canada. The trail runs from Old Forge, New York to Fort Kent, Maine. Whether you plan to paddle the entire route or just a portion, race in the 90 or leisurely explore, Saranac Lake is a scenic stop along the way.
Leave No Trace and Love Your ADK Pledge
The magic of the Adirondacks is the result of previous generations taking a long view and protecting the mountains, lakes, and rivers within the Blue Line. That tradition continues today as we support and encourage everyone to practice Leave No Trace ethics, which help protect the lands and waters of the Adirondacks.
Safety is important while preparing for a canoe or kayak adventure. Always be sure to wear a PFD, keep first-aid supplies in a waterproof container, carry a map, and clean boats to be free and clear of non-native aquatic invasive species.