Considered the waterway equivalent of the Appalachian Trail, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT for short) is a 740 mile-long paddling route that starts in the Adirondacks. Paddlers from around the world start right here to begin a "thru paddle" to the end of the route in Fort Kent, Maine, over rivers, streams, and lakes. You don't have to go all the way to the end to enjoy part of this scenic paddle. Bring your own craft or rent your choice of a canoe or kayak from a local outfitter, who will have plenty of tips on the best spots for wildlife viewing, mountain views, and more. Saranac Lake is also the terminus of the Adirondack Canoe Classic, or the 90 Miler as some call it. This canoe race starts at the NFCT put-in in Old Forge and runs through to Saranac Lake over the course of 3-days.
How to get there
There are many places to access the NFCT in and around Saranac Lake. The DEC public launches at Lake Flower, Second Pond, or the hand launch on the Saranac River on Pine Street are all popular places.
Paddling and Portage
The NFCT paddling route begins in Old Forge, along the Fulton Chain of Lakes, following the path of Iroquois trappers in birch bark canoes. The route takes you through Long Lake to the Raquette River, then on into the Saranac lakes and the Saranac River. From there the journey continues on into Lake Champlain, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Quebec, Canada, with the journey ending in Fort Kent, Maine.
Using the NFCT's handy interactive trip planner, you can explore section one to help you plan your ideal trip on this Adirondack canoe trail, whether it's for a few hours or a few days. The trip planner shows portages, campgrounds and sites, dining options, and the all-important fastwater sections, so that you go into your trip well-informed and prepared.
Recommended resources: Adirondack Paddler’s Map: North, South, Raquette River, and Saranac Lakes; as well as Northern Forest Canoe Trail Map Series.