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.

Photograph from a paddler's point of view on a lake with mountains and forests in the background
A couple uses canoe oars as air guitars in front of a rack of canoe rentals while a Saranac Lake outfitter explains the rental options available.

Start downtown

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.

Two women paddle a blue canoe in one Saranac Lake's secluded waterways
A single-person canoe paddling in the sunset
Photograph of a man paddling along a peaceful lake in a canoe
Woman smiling while holding an oar as she sites in the front of a canoe rental from a Saranac Lake outfitter

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.  

Two canoes and a kayak paddle away from the camera and towards the backdrop of the Adirondack mountains

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. The celebration includes events like Adirondack Paddling Symposium, a four day informative, fun, and educational event aimed at getting paddles in your hands and helping you to develop your skills! Stick around until July, because the paddling events just don't stop! On July 7, 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 Northern Forest 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.

Two kayakers on a pond with a large mountain and fire tower in the background.

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.

Banner for the Love Your ADK site with woman in purple jacket staring at mountains with the text PLEDGE TO LOVE THE ADIRONDACKS and a button saying "Learn More"

Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

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.

(518) 282-3334
250 Lake Flower Ave
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
A premier Adirondack boating destination, HK Waterfront offers unparalleled access to the Saranac Chain of Lakes. Our docks are within walking distance of downtown Saranac Lake, a vibrant shopping and dining district in the heart of the Adirondack Park.
(518) 891-7450
8 Church Street
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters is your one stop, full service paddling and outdoor shop. We have a complete rental and outfitting service available and 20 years of guiding and instruction experience in the Adirondacks. Whether you're a skilled...
(518) 891-1838
73 Dorsey Street
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
St. Regis Canoe Outfitters is ideally situated with two bases on the water: Our Saranac Lake Base is in the village right on the Saranac River, a part of the 740 mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Our Floodwood Outpost is on Floodwood Pond at the edge...
(518) 523-1635
6440 NY 30
Indian Lake, NY 12842
Adirondac Rafting Company invites you to run the wild and scenic Hudson River Gorge. The gorge run is a 16 mile, 4-5 hour adventure trip with plenty of whitewater fun. Adirondac Rafting Company provides highly skilled, licensed, and fun river...
Brighton, NY 12970
Osgood Pond, located near the Paul Smith's College VIC, is a 500-acre body of water that has fantastic multi-season fishing, and opportunity for a couple different paddling day-trips. How to get there There are two launch sites for Osgood Pond. One...
An old tea house on a narrow strip of land in a pond
Route 3
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Upper Saranac Lake is the longest of the Saranac Lakes and offers supreme paddling opportunities.
Upper Saranac Lake is the longest in the Saranac Chain, which offers lots of room to paddle in.
Brighton, NY 12970
Jones Pond is a popular fishing, paddling, and camping destination. Its ease of access, connectivity with a couple other ponds, and primitive camp sites make it a worthwhile destination for both day use and an overnight trip. How to get there From the...
A pond surrounded by bright green pine trees
Route 3
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
The paddling route from State Bridge to Ampersand Bay offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the area. Lower Saranac Lake was referred to by the Native Americans as the "Lake of the Clustered Stars," which may have referred to the...
Two people canoeing towards the sunset on Lower Saranac Lake
Route 3
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
The Middle Saranac Lake to Lower Saranac Lake trip offers spectacular views and the chance to paddle through the manually operated Upper Locks. The route begins on South Creek where you are surrounded by bog plants including sundew...
Get out early and hear the loons.
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
This paddle offers a close-to-town paddle with a backcountry feel. Reaching Oseetah Lake from Second Pond, you'll be able to spot some classic Saranac Lake mountains, including Scarface and Mckenzie. This paddling trip is also part of the Saranac Lake...
A team of four paddle a canoe down a river
581 Keese Mill Rd
Paul Smiths, NY 12970
Paddle this peaceful stretch of river from Keese Mills Road to Paul Smith's College.
The Paul Smiths area is marvelous paddling among interesting lakes.
Paul Smiths, NY 12970
Church Pond is a picturesque, roadside body of water that is equally fun to canoeing or just stop for a photo. Either way, you can't go wrong. Church Pond is on Paul Smith's Conservation Easement lands, and is open for public recreation.
church pond sign

Leave No Trace 7 Principles

The Adirondack Park provides a haven of pristine wilderness in New York state’s northernmost reaches. It also offers an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities for explorers of all ages and experience levels! While you enjoy your visit, please keep the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace in mind. Set forth by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, and championed by many partners within the Adirondack Park, these principles will not only improve your own nature experience, but they help preserve this unparalleled natural wonder for generations to come.

Know before you go
Plan ahead and prepare by checking weather reports and wind conditions. Use maps to plan where you’re going and inform someone of your paddling plans, including your expected return time and route.
Safety First
Ensure you have packed all paddling essentials, including a personal flotation device (PFD), appropriate clothing, navigation and first-aid equipment.
Clean, Drain, Dry
Wash/decontaminate watercraft to prevent the spread of non-native aquatic invasive species by practicing clean, drain, dry.
Pack It In, Pack It Out
Put litter—even crumbs, peels and cores—in garbage bags and carry it home. Use bathrooms or outhouses when available. If they're not available, bury human waste in a small hole 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet or 70 big steps from water and the trail.
Keep Wildlife Wild
Description: Observe wildlife from a distance and never approach, feed, or follow them. Human food is unhealthy for all wildlife and feeding them starts bad habits. Protect wildlife and your food by securely storing your meals and trash.
Leave It As You Find It
Leave plants, rocks, and historical items as you find them so others can enjoy them. Treat living plants with respect.
Be Considerate
Be considerate of other paddlers and boaters by sticking to shorelines and avoiding channels, paddling in single-file lines, not blocking carries, and keeping voices quiet.