Paddling St Regis Wilderness

The St. Regis Canoe Area is the only wilderness canoe area of its kind in the northeast, and the only designated canoe area in New York State. Closed to all forms of motorized boats and vehicles, it is a paddler’s paradise, a place where anyone can seek renewal and inspiration in nature.

While hiking some remote mountains in the St Regis area, we found the St Regis Canoe Outfitters Floodwood Outpost, a rustic building at the edge of the St. Regis Wilderness. The remote location makes a great jumping-off-place. From this base, several loop trips and numerous one-way trips, ranging from a few hours to over 120 miles are possible.

Tim and Nick were very helpful in designing the best day trip for us. We selected (again, see here) the famous Placid Boatworks canoes. They are so light and easily the best choice for our carries across ponds.

IMG_0204The St Regis Wilderness Canoe area is a pond-hopper’s paradise. Many carries are short and most canoe routes can be done as an unencumbered day trip. We elected to do a one-day loop, starting at Floodwood Pond, moving through the river into Little Square Pond and Fish Creek, then across to Follensby Clear Pond and Pollywog Pond, and back to our starting point. That included a few carries, about a half mile each, some involving several uphill stretches, none too steep however.

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Into the river

We saw plenty of birds (eagles and loons), bathed in these transparent waters, paddled with a loon family (the parents fishing for their chicks) and relaxed on “private” islands with nobody around. What a great day!

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Paddling with a loon family

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Paddling Lower Saranac Lake

The Saranac Lakes are a combined team of three lakes (Upper, Middle and Lower) connected by the Saranac River. On Sunday, we decided to go test the hyper-light canoes from Placid Boatworks on the lower lake. We have been planning a multi-day trip on lakes for a while, and it was time to try options.

IMG_2070 IMG_2081Fresh water, especially here in the Adirondacks, often requires portages and open topped canoes are lighter than decked boats. They are also easier to load with gear, and easier to enter. So, they seem like the natural choice for us. Lucie tried the 10′ Spitfire and I embarked on the 14′ Rapidfire. We wanted a quiet paddle around Saranac Lake and experience the primal pleasure of being the only human around for miles.

We were not disappointed. Both boats are quick, easy to maneuver and so stable. And the best was yet to come: At around 15lbs, they are so light that you can take them out of the water with only one hand. IMG_2083