Paddle Lower Saranac Lake to Fish Creek
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Three Great Birding Sites within Three Minutes of Town
Sixty Degrees in April

We set out early for a morning paddle on Fish Creek. We planned to paddle a half day, then head into town for lunch at Left Bank Café, followed by a massage. We really needed a break from our hectic lives, a day or two to completely let go and just relax, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be out in nature. We wanted to soak in the amazing views and look for wildlife. We were amazed to find a paddling route so close to downtown Saranac Lake that took us out into a remote area.

We unloaded our canoes on Lower Saranac Lake at Ampersand Bay boat launch, parked our car, and set out for our half-day paddle down Fish Creek. The air was cool and crisp, which felt nice since we were dressed in layers. It looked like a perfect day. By mid-day we would be wearing t-shirts and shorts. As we put in, we took a moment to check out the scene around us. The blue sky and clouds were reflected on the calm water and the fog was just lifting from the water. Ahead of us we could just barely make out the islands on Lower Saranac Lake. Behind us we noted the remains of a rock wall and ledge where the Ampersand Hotel stood during the Golden Age. Adjacent to us is the spot where Martin’s, a sportsmen’s lodge, once stood. 

We consulted our Adirondack Paddler’s Map to figure out our route before we began paddling.  We planned to paddle along the northern shore to reach Fish Creek. The shoreline is dotted with an assortment of private camps and Ampersand Mountain on the horizon. 

It was a gorgeous day and we could feel a slight breeze from our forward momentum. We reach a point of land with a creamy yellow boathouse marking the Pinehurst Camp.  The lake widened and we turned slightly to the right, following the shoreline. As we passed the swimming area for the Guggenheim summer camp, we took a sharp turn to go north into Fish Creek and pause for a bit to slow down.

Once we made the turn into Fish Creek, the environment quickly changed. We were surrounded by Tamaracks, white pine and cedar trees. Grasses line the shore, providing a backdrop to the purple pickerelweed flowers, while white water lilies float on the waters surface. We were absorbed by the remoteness and beauty of the creek. We carefully paddled up to a beaver house to check it out. Beavers are amazing creatures with such ingenuity, reminding us we have a lot to learn from wildlife.  

We sat quietly watching a Great Blue Heron catching fish, feeling a sense of awe watching this beautiful bird. We continued paddling until we noticed a movement in the water beside the boat: two otters popped their heads up to check us out before swimming away, long enough for us to snap a few quick photos. Otters always come across as so playful without a care in the world.

We continued paddling, feeling a great sense of gratitude for the opportunity to see so much wildlife. Paddling onward, the creek becomes narrower and the vegetation growth on the water surface thickens. The land on both sides is all privately owned, but the state allows access by boaters to paddle into this area, taking care to protect the area. As we turned around to paddle back to the boat launch, we caught sight of an Osprey flying to its nest on a dead tree.  

Once back at our cars we drove the short distance to downtown Saranac Lake and head to Left Bank Café for lunch. We were fortunate to get outdoor seating on the flower-adorned deck overlooking the scenic Saranac River. I ordered an asparagus, mushroom and Gruyère savory buckwheat crêpe, while my partner ordered a salad with smoked trout. We finished off the meal with a cappuccino and split a vanilla bean crème brûlée to treat ourselves to one last bite of heavenly delight. 

Essential Holistic Health is a business composed of two massage therapists and a holistic counselor. I chose to have a massage with Diane, whose specialty is craniosacral therapy, which is a light, non-invasive, treatment that supports me in healing from a knee injury. My partner received an Abhyanga ayurvedic massage with warm, herb-infused oils from Colleen. Each of us received exactly what our body needed the most. 

We headed back to our lodging to relax and figure out the plan for the rest of our playtime. There are always many options to choose from in Saranac Lake; that night, there was live music at Lake Flower Landing and a play at Pendragon, plus the Art Walk downtown. Ultimately, we decided to grab a few slices of pizza at the local brewery. We were already getting excited about plans to hike Ampersand Mountain the next day.

Saranac Lake was such a warm and lively place; you'll want to try it for your vacation, too!


Author:Rivka Cilley
Three Great Birding Sites within Three Minutes of Town
Sixty Degrees in April

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