May 01, 2018
The beauty of this 'Round the Mountain race is... it doesn't have to be a race. You don't even have to be in it to revel in the fun.
It's a great way to kick off the paddling season and get those competitive juices flowing, or be a spectator, cheering the first boats and experiencing the scenic and picnic possibilities along the shores of Lake Flower.
Any time, it can be a more leisurely experience, ending at the boat launch at Lake Flower. This is easy walking distance to a downtown full of dining and libations to explore.
'Round the Mountain is a fundraiser for the Adirondack Watershed Alliance, a paddling club which promotes and organizes paddlesport activities. They offer all New York Marathon Canoe Racing Association Classes.
The race has been designated a NYMCRA canoe and kayak points race for 2018. The 'Round the Mountain race enjoys broad popularity, which draws racers from all over New York State, as wells as places as far away as Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, and the Canadian Provinces of Quebec and Ontario. There are many enthused locals, too.
To be competitive for the top awards, you or your team will complete the race in roughly 90 minutes. Even keeping up with the pack will test everyone's mettle.
It has a particularly fun end point at the boat launch and park area on Lake Flower, part of a park system that includes our historic downtown with its shops, art galleries, and restaurants, the Riverwalk, and our iconic town hall with clock tower.
The 'Round the Mountain Canoe Race was started in 1988 by the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and the Adirondack Paddlers Club. It got its name because it circles Dewey Mountain, Saranac Lake's own "town mountain," which has wonderful mountain biking trails.
At a more leisurely pace, it is considered a six-hour paddle, the 'Round the Mountain scenic tour. It displays such lovely areas as Ampersand Bay and Lower Saranac Lake, Bluff Island's towering cliff, the Saranac River, stunning Oseetah Lake, and Lake Flower. There is one short carry at the Lower Locks.
There are fine reasons to consider some May paddling. It is a beautiful time for our deciduous trees. The first buds create a delicate profile and display shades of pale green and near-gold. That heady spring breeze is invigorating and smells of the earth awakening from its winter sleep.
This route begins and ends in the village, with the stately Great Camp style of Ampersand Bay Resort and the historic downtown with its period architecture. As civilization tapers into lakeside cabins and camps, the beauty of the Adirondack Preserve starts dominating, until you are floating past forever-wild areas.
It's the quiet that is special. It's not silent. There's the lap of the water against the boat and the sighing of the wind in the trees and the song of birds. But that's all.
This trip is ideal for a couple looking for closeness or a group looking for adventure. There are plenty of places for a picnic lunch, and if the weather is particularly warm there may be swimming at Bluff Island, and maybe even diving from the top of its cliff. While Dewey Mountain is seen at the beginning and end, there are plenty of other mountains to view. Throughout the course, there's Ampersand, the Sewards, Boot Bay Mountain, the McKenzie Range, and Algonquin.
Maybe you aren't a paddler... yet.
If you want to "dip a paddle into the water," so to speak, gathering with the race crowd at the boat dock on Lake Flower is a great way to soak up a sense of paddling's appeal.
While this race kicks off the paddling season, there's so much more to come. As the lakes change from thawed gray to deep summer blue, and the leaves go from fragile gold to glorious green, our many waterways beckon the explorer.
One of the appeals of paddling is how much gorgeous ground can be covered via these "water highways." Contrast how long it might take to hike this distance, on this kind of terrain, and then imagine how easily and swiftly the scenery changes when a canoe or kayak glides by. Much of our nature is more easily accessed with watercraft than by any other method.
Saranac Lake is the launch point for incredible paddling adventures because of the extraordinary variety of our abundant lakes, rivers, and ponds. During the gilded age visitors began mapping out ways to link the different waterways with short hiking paths. Over a century later, these time-tested routes are still in place, drawing paddlers with the same mountains and forests that refresh the body, and renew the spirit.
What a wonderful day on the water! Good thing you chose a great place to stay. Learn more about our paddling possibilities and consider a guided trip. Read about the glories of exploring the St. Regis Canoe Area with the blog post, One Magic Canoe: The Seven Carries.