I’m new to and very happy to have found it. I’m looking for a little advice on the Adirondacks. My wife and I are looking to do a three or four night canoe trip there over Columbus Day weekend. Ideally, we like to establish ourselves in a base camp on from which we can do interesting day paddles. Portaging is fine. (In fact, we actually enjoy it.) To the extent that it’s possible, we like to be away from other people and away from development. I know that’s not easy in the Adks, especially on a holiday weekend at the height of leaf season. But there must be some areas that are less accessible and thus less frequented, right? If it’s possible to reserve a campsite ahead of time, that’s great. If not, no problem. We normally take our vacation time on northern Maine lake systems, but Maine is too far to go in the short time we have available to us in October. The Adks are much closer to home, but we lack knowledge of the area. Any advice would be appreciated.

Ask here

Lots of helpful folks and good information at this site.

Columbus day weekend not busy
Between 4th of July and Labor Day is the busy season in the Adirondacks. After Labor Day there are no crowds. The St. Regis Canoe Area is your best bet for a base camp + day trips. There are many campsites on the Floodwood Road that are first come first served. You can set up there and day trip into the St. Regis. There are several loop possibilities right from your camp depending on where you set up. It is a great time of year to be there, no bugs, warm water, and nice cool evenings.


into Sergent Ponds, great place to base camp. Over the 4th, the only way to get away from the general population is to do what the general population isnt willing to do…work. If you pack in a bit, you lose 80% of the majority. It’s not a bad carry either. Have fun.

Adks in Oct
Although the High peaks will be mobbed (it’s the single busiest weekend there) you can easily find a remote, undeveloped, unpeopled paddle in campsite in Adks

Have you done any research or searched past threads here or @ other sites ? If you want remote you won’t be dealing w/ reservations as the best waterfront campsites in the Adks are free, 1st come, 1st served, no permits, no fees

Check out & research the usual suspects - Low’s, Lila, Little Tupper, SRCA, Oswegatchie R. Even the Raquette will be practically empty in mid-Oct

Too many places to mention - but your first trip to this wondeful place should be the St Regis Canoe area. No motors, great camping, excellent poratages and hikes, etc, etc, etc. You should be ok on Columbus day since it is late in the season and many schools are not off. If you do not have a canoe, just make sure an outfitter will be opened. There are two good ones in Saranac Lake and another one in Tupper (both close). This time of year is a good time to get great deals on used equipment from these outfitters too. Get the paddlers map of the area and the new guide book and you will see all the possibilities. Have a greaty time.

Hunting season in the Northern Zone
North Country big game hunting season begins around Columbus Day, so if that bothers you, do your trip before that season, or just choose a more remote place (multiple carries and no motors) with more difficult access. The Oswegatchie will be busy that time of season. I like the St. Regis Canoe Area.

The Woods Are Full Of People
My wife & I did the St. Regis Columbus Day weekend a couple years ago. While carrying to Bessie Pond, I heard my wife squeak. Seems she spotted a motionless archer in full camo near the trail!

A little further along the path, I took my first and only fall (so far) while carrying the canoe. The trail was along a slanted hillside, covered with leaves. The slippery leaves covered the protruding root, so when I stepped on it my feet flew out from underneath me. Luckily, I was able to fall uphill and the net result was no damage to me or the boat, but it scared me. I don’t relish the idea of being injured in the woods.

Regardless, there are plenty of places to go and it’s worth your while to follow up on the leads given already.

Thanks for all of the advice. I’ll follow up on some of these leads.

Just got back from ADK
This was my first trip but well worth it. Here is what we learned.

Stay off Upper Saranac Lk. Mostly for pleasure boaters, mostly private property.

Middle Saranac Lake. This was awesome. Lots of public camp sites. Sites are so far from each other, you would not be disturbed by nor hear folks at the adjacent campsite. We use the South Ck access to get there and we were VERY pleased. From there, you can get in the upper reaches and further portage to other small ponds/lakes.

Little Tupper Lake. This is really getting closest to what we had in mind of a “wilderness” vacation. There are a few private homes at the one end but the rest is surrounded by wilderness area. I saw 3 other kayaks and no other signs of human life while we were there. There are some portages to get to some other lakes from there.

Lows Lake pretty much requires portaging to get to the lake. We never made it to Lows lake but looks like this would have even more of what you are looking for. That area also has some nice links to port and paddle across several small lakes with camping availalble at many locations.

I recommend stopping at some outfitters either at Tupper or Saranac Lk (the towns) to get the local paddler’s map ($7.95). It shows the camp spots, private and public lands, portage trails, etc. The outfitters were all great and shared much information to make vacation the best it could be.

I found sites #78 and especially #81 on Middle Saranac to be fantastic. 78 was on a point with a great view of the lake, yet fairly private. #81 was tucked up around a bend with a “lean-to”. That site was VERY PRIVATE but the lake view was not as panoramic. The scenery however is beautiful everywhere.

Lil Tupper, I think we stopped at campsite #8 for lunch. Decent enough. Most sites at Lil Tupper you landed your boat but walked back in a short distance. You didn’t really have lake front views from the tent area, but this made it nice as you could not really been seen, nor see others scattered along the shoreline. Again, these sites are quite aways from each other. Doubt you would see or hear anyone in neighboring campsites.

Lower and Middle Saranac
Beware that Middle Saranac is wide open and exposed in comparison to Lower Saranac. You may need to pay attention to that in October if winds are high as they can be both spring and fall.

Both lakes are part of the Saranac Lakes Islands Campground and reservable.

Either is a good base to explore.

Upper is just a connector between two carries for me.

Agree with Kayakmedic’s comments
about the wind on Middle Saranac Lake. Through the years have taken a couple of wild canoe rides on Middle.

If you aren’t planning to portage, and have kayak seat time, you might consider using kayaks.

In a kayak, afternoon October winds and waves on Middle can be a pleasure to play in.


some clarification
Most of long E shore of Upper Saranac is state land.

In addition to being reservable, Middle Saranac campsites come w/ a fee early May thru Columbus day & traffic noise yr-around

There’s only a 50 ft portage (“carry” in Adks)around a gate to access Low’s Lake. You may have been thinking of L Lila which requires a 700yd carry in.

The Adk paddlers map is $19.95

the nitpicker

Couple of photos from the trip

– Last Updated: Jul-09-09 10:18 AM EST –

Oswegatchie River
The Oswegatchie is a very nice 3-4 day trip. Put in at Inlet (just west of Wanakena) and paddle upstream for 2 days toward High Falls. The flow isn’t too strong so going against the current is not difficult. There are designated camp sites every quarter mile or so between Inlet and High Falls.

There are numerous beaver dams along the way which slow things down, but we never had to carry around them. Rather each one involved getting out and pushing the boat over.

The area doesn’t seem to get too crowded. We went Labor Day weekend and only a hand full of campsites were occupied and we saw maybe a 6 or 7 other groups on the river over the three days. The sites at High Falls seem to fill up first, as does the site High Rock with its great view, but even that was available for our last night (we passed because of the chance of thunderstorms and exposed location).

For a 4 day trip you can carry around High Falls and continue upstream for another half day.

On the last day you return with the current at your back and you can make great time. Depending on the flow you can usually make it over most beaver dams without getting out.

Here is a vid of our trip: