Roadside Gems, Paddling the Saranac Lake Region
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5 Hidden Gems for Hiking, Paddling & Trail Running

Roadside Gems

Paddling the Saranac Lake Region

The Saranac Lake Region is a mecca of paddling opportunities for all skill levels and rewarding destinations. Questions I often receive are in regards to, where to go. But more deeply, places with easy access, and for new paddlers. Again, not narrowing it down too much, since Saranac Lake has many destinations that are road side, I often think of three specific spots that I truly enjoy.

These three roadside gems, which I like to call them, are virtually motorboat free so you won’t have the worry about large wakes from powerful engines.  They are well-sheltered, so heavy winds tend to not affect a relaxing outing. These ponds are quiet, so you can have a good chance of seeing wildlife such as loons and other water fowl.  They are also smaller in size, allowing for a shorter and fulfilling paddle. So, please read on and see what a small portion of the Saranac Lake Region has to offer.

Barnum Pond


This pond, with a fairly long shoreline, offers outstanding opportunities for paddlers of all abilities. You will put in right off Route 30. Then with some exploring around the edges you are sure to have ample opportunities to see birds of all sorts. The red-winged blackbird loves to dart in and out of the tall grasses and cattails. Kingfishers follow you along shore as they seek out small fish to harvest. To the south a smaller bay cuts into the Paul Smith’s VIC property where a narrow outlet continues through a wetland to eventually empty into the St. Regis Lakes. When the water is high enough you may be able to continue further down the outlet for a quiet paddle. This wetland area offers several species of wildflowers from spring into late summer and a playful otter if you are so lucky to see.

How to get there

Follow Route 86 out of Saranac Lake toward Paul Smiths. Continue on Route 86 until its end at Route 30. Town north onto Route 30 and continue for just under 2-miles to Barnum Pond on the left.

Jones Pond

Jones Pond

Jones Pond is one of exceptional beauty and a fisherman’s dream. While not completely free of motors, only very small ones may be present. The put-in for your boat is located at a state launch site where several camping opportunities exist; first come, first served. The western portion of this pond has the most beauty, with narrow passages through a wetland area with ducks, geese and loons all about. You have the opportunity to continue your paddle if you so wish, by following the outlet to Osgood Pond. To enter the outlet you will need to fight the abundant pond lilies that tend to tangle your paddle. Then the outlet will bring you under Jones Pond Road and down a very narrow passage. Eventually the outlet brings you to Osgood Pond, if the beavers allow.  

How to get there

Follow Route 86 out of Saranac Lake toward Paul Smiths. Continue on Route 86 to Jones Pond Road on your right. Follow Jones Pond Road for over 2.5 miles to the state launch site on the right.

Little Clear Pond

Little Clear Pond

This pond is a special regulation pond where fishing is not allowed, but paddling is. This quiet and placid body of water will surely amaze you as it looks like glass before you with only the soft sounds of your paddle breaking the surface of the water. Near the center of the pond, two small dot islands seem to float and welcome you to paddle amongst its shores. Loons call out from a distance and seem to get closer with every passing stoke of your blade. Little Clear Pond also offers many small bays to the willing visitor and portage trails to St. Regis Pond, Grass Pond and Green Pond. While not terribly rugged, the trails are a bit lengthy and will require a bit of effort to continue further into the area.

How to get there

Follow Route 86 out of Saranac Lake toward Paul Smiths. Continue to Route 86 to Route 186 on your left. Follow Route 186 into Lake Clear and get on Route 30 and follow south toward Tupper Lake. Continue to a state access road on the right, approximately 3.5 miles. Turn down this rough road and cross the railroad tracks and continue straight to the Little Clear launch site on your right.

Have I got your mouth watering for more? Check out a local guidebook at a nearby outfitter. Need a lesson? Our experienced local guides will get you ready in no time. Arms tired from paddling and want someone to cook dinner for you? You guessed it; Saranac Lake Village has some amazing food.  

Author:Spencer Morrissey
Art Event or Fun Party? BluSeed blurs the line
5 Hidden Gems for Hiking, Paddling & Trail Running

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