Cranberry Lake, NY: 2011 Paddling Season

As of yesterday afternoon (April 15th), the main body of Cranberry Lake had not opened. Cranberry Lake Lodge has a web cam that looks out onto the main body of the lake:

Currently (as of 5:00 pm on April 16th) 14 mph winds in the area, with a wind advisory through tomorrow, for gusts up to 50 mph:

However, yesterday at the Pine Cone put-in, where the east branch of Oswegatchie enters Cranberry Lake, it was open water as far as I could see. Found the Ranger School web cam, but I cannot access this link, as my computer security software “cannot verify the publisher”:

I’m wimping out this weekend and will confine my paddling to Hannawa Pond across the street from our house.

Next week looks warmer on Cranberry, but with the usual, ever-present winds - too bad I’ve got to work, as this weekend’s weather will hopefully open up the main body of the lake.


First Paddle of the Cranberry Season
Launched from Cranberry Village swimming beach (strictly an early season launch site before the State Campground day use swimming area opens in May).

Paddled down to Chairrock Flow.

Mr. Nessmuk, saw no beach volley ball games in progress on Buck Island; hope you had a good winter.

Paddling back through the early afternoon wind express (no matter what the forecast says, it’s likely to blow in the afternoon); COLD water over the boat.

Saw two power boats at a great distance, and nary another human powered craft.

Had a great time!


Flooding Throughout Adirondacks
Canceled my weekend trip on Cranberry.

The “S” curves on the Colton side of the traffic light on Route 56 have flooded.

Route 3, between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, at the Crusher was down to one lane, and may be completely closed by now - Tupper Lake is under a state of emergency due to flooding.

I’m wondering if the put-in at the Pine Cone has flooded.

Oh well: “There’s old paddlers and bold paddlers; but there’s no old, bold paddlers.”


Cranberry Lake
My wife and I are looking at making a kayaking and camping trip up to Cranberry, preferably after black fly season. She’s got some paddling experience; I’m a rank newbie. By the time the black flies settle down, I ought to have picked up some basic knowledge.

We’d welcome company, so we’ll post details as we make 'em.

Update Of Cranberry Lake Information

– Last Updated: Jun-15-11 4:32 PM EST –

Since my original 2008 post on this topic, here are some updates and additions:

The Lake
Cranberry Lake is the third largest lake in the Adirondacks with 7,040 acres of water and 55 miles of shoreline (40 miles state owned). There are 46 free, unreserved, water accessible campsites along the shoreline and on some of the many islands. Note that all of these camp sites are motor boat accessible. The lake’s shallowness (maximum depth 38 feet, mean depth 6 feet), coupled with ten miles of fetch, can the give you some wild rides in exposed areas of the lake. Prevailing winds from the southwest often blow down the wind slot, hitting Bear Mountain, Hedgehog Mountain and other terrain features to create some “interesting” paddling conditions. Northeast winds can strike Indian Mountain and Cat Mountain with much the same results: confused water in the central portion of the lake. Been there and done that in canoes; and been there and done that in kayaks; and kayaks can be a lot more fun to paddle – especially when the wind blows! I can comfortably paddle a kayak on Cranberry on days when I wouldn’t even unload a canoe off the car.

However, the beauty of paddling on Cranberry Lake is that there is usually someplace to hide: islands, bays and coves abound. The most sheltered area of Cranberry Lake is the southwestern arm, where the East Branch of the Oswegatchie River enters the lake. Rebecca and I have paddled comfortably there when there were 30 mph+ winds thrashing the main body of the lake. Packbasket Adventures lodge is located here.

More secluded parts of the lake include: Bear Mountain Flow (swampy and buggy in season), the end of Brandy Brook Flow (a bit of a "Heart of Darkness" paddle), and Black Duck Hole (camp site #31 - picture perfect, but buggy in season). Campsite #11 on Catamount Island is nice, as is campsite #19 on Joe Indian Island.

The Scene
For most of the year on Cranberry, paddlers have the potential to interact with power boaters, both on and off the water. Therefore, we need to keep in mind some basics of paddling etiquette. Connecticut Sea Kayakers have done a good job in this area:

All the usual suspects run their power boats and jet skis up and down Cranberry Lake from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There are clearly marked boat channels, but much of the periphery of the lake is too shallow and full of submerged debris for power boaters to speed. If boat traffic in the Canadian Thousand Islands gets rated a “7”, then boat traffic on Cranberry would be rated a “4”.

While Cranberry Lake offers many opportunities to explore out of the way coves and islands, and to observe wildlife (e.g. in Bear Mountain Flow), during most of the paddling season, Cranberry Lake is NOT a wilderness paddle. However, for those paddlers with the inclination, skills and gear, paddling on Cranberry Lake from ice out until mid May, and then again from mid October until the lake freezes over, can subjectively feel like a “wilderness” type paddling experience.

In their book "Quiet Water", Hayes and Wilson emphasize Cranberry Lake's flora, fauna and solitude. Dave Cilley’s "Adirondack Paddler’s Guide" takes a rather straightforward approach to planning a paddling trip on Cranberry Lake, and merely mentions that “Motors are allowed on the lake….” Jamieson and Morris in "Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow" state that while Cranberry Lake is “…. the only large lake to be nearly surrounded by Forest Preserve”, the motorboat traffic is “…. fairly lively in the summer”.

If you want to paddle Cranberry Lake when there are the fewest motor boats, then the time to be there is before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. I paddle on Cranberry most weekends from ice out (usually by mid April) till freeze up (varies). Early season the air temperature may be warm, but the water is still very cold – I prefer to wear a dry suit for early and late season paddling on Cranberry. Late September and the month of October is the prime time. The weather can be spectacular; water is still relatively warm; there are no bugs, fewer people, and few to no motor boats - other than the occasional bass tournament weekend. However, Cranberry is a big lake (for the Adirondacks) – there is potential for lots of fun, but also for lots of wind, waves and weather.

There are five places to put in: 1) Emporium Marina in Cranberry lake Village (private - charge unknown; located in a high boat traffic area and in the wind slot); 2) Cranberry Lake Lodge (private - charge unknown; located in a high boat traffic area and in the wind slot); 3) public boat ramp on Columbian Road in Cranberry Lake Village (free and not a place you want to be with a canoe or kayak between Memorial Day and Labor Day due to high power boat traffic); 4) Cranberry Lake Public Campground day use area ($4 to $6 for one car; I have also seen large groups use this put-in, no idea as to charge; nice put-in, but it’s located in the wind slot); and 5) Wanakena put-in near Pine Cone Restaurant (free, less power boat traffic, sheltered from wind, but a longer paddle to get to main body of lake).

Food and lodging options, as well as après paddling activities are strictly limited. Local restaurants include: Cranberry Lake Lodge, The Windfall, The Pine Cone Restaurant and Stone Manor Diner However, before showing up hungry at any of these establishments, it would be a good idea to call ahead and make sure they are open, as their hours of operation vary with the season.

The Cranberry Lake Public Campground is well maintained and well run, with several sites that would allow direct access to the lake. In the busy season this a popular place, so reserve early. Also be advised that if you plan camping there on any of the major summer holidays, the campground will be a VERY busy place.

As far as I can determine, the Cranberry Lake Public Campground does not have RV hook-ups. If you need that kind of a camp site, you might try the Camper's Village Campground. This is a small operation, so it would be wise to reserve a site early.

As regards other lodging, both Cranberry Lake Lodge and Stone Manor Motel have rooms to rent. An internet search for Cranberry Lake vacation rentals turns up several other options; most of cabin/cottage rentals are by the week.

Columbian Road has the high end lakefront housing and I assume would also have the high end lakefront rentals. Realtors who might handle that type of rental include: La Valley Real Estate (Tupper Lake); and Cranberry Shores Realty (Cranberry Lake)

The Packbasket Adventures lodge operation is located in Wanakena. I saw a PBS program on their facility and they recently (2007) won some kind of small business award.

For a more complete guide to Cranberry Lake area resources, suggest checking out the information put together by the non-profit Clifton-Fine Economic Development Corporation

For those whose knees have not become “tired” from too much telemark skiing and technical climbing, the Cranberry Lake region affords some great hiking opportunities. The information below has been taken from a New York State DEC publication “Trails in the Cranberry Lake Region: Official Map and Guide (2005)". A free copy of this brochure is available at DEC regional offices, or by contacting the DEC by e-mail

The following is just a small sample of the many hiking opportunities in the area:

1. Bear Mountain Trail [red markers] (2.4 miles) – This is a loop trail, beginning at a parking lot adjacent to Campsite 27 in the Cranberry Lake Campground and ending in Loop IV. Several great views of Cranberry Lake!

2. Campground Trail [yellow markers] (2.2 miles) – This trail connects the Bear Mountain trail with the Burnbridge Pond Snowmobile Trail.

3. Burnbridge Pond Snowmobile Trail (6.8 miles) –A south branch of this trail leads to Brandy Brook Flow on Cranberry Lake.

4. Cat Mountain Trail (0.7 mile) – Paddle down to the end of Dead Creek Flow and pick up the Cat Mountain Trail at the Janacks Landing lean-to. Short, but steep, the trail ends on the summit of Cat Mountain - spectacular views!

5. The High Falls Loop [red markers] (15 miles) –This trail begins in the Hamlet of Wanakena at the start of the Dead Creek Flow Trail. Be prepared for beaver activity and more rugged trail conditions than those encountered in the above described hikes.

In addition to the above described hikes, a 50 mile hiking loop around Cranberry Lake has been recently developed

Check out trip report and videos from an early spring 2009 Cranberry Lake 50 hiker

Invasive Species
Please clean your boat to help slow the spread of zebra mussels and other unwanted species and

Dave Cilley's Adirondack Paddlers Map has proven to be the most useful as it has the shoreline campsite numbers and contains much other paddler specific information.

However, my copy of the 1st, 2nd and 4th (2010) editions of this map omitted shoreline campsites #27, #28, #44, #45 and #46. So you may want to pick a free New York State DEC publication entitled: “Trails in the Cranberry Lake Region: Official Map and Guide (2005)". In addition to hiking trails, this brochure has all 46 designated shoreline camp sites, correctly marked. A free copy of this brochure is available at DEC regional offices, or by contacting the DEC by e-mail

For exploring the little islands and coves, I also take along a set of 7.5 minute series of USGS Quadrangles: Cranberry Lake, Five Ponds and Newton Falls

For activities requiring detailed water depth information (e.g. fishing and sailing), recommend the Western Adirondacks New York Fishing Map Guide, published by Sportsman's Connection (2004) which contains maps that show Cranberry Lake water depths. However, not all information contained in this book may be up to date. For example, my experience is that it is no longer possible for the public to use the Ranger School as a put-in.

Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow, 3rd edition (1988, revised 1994), by Paul Jamieson and Donald Morris.

Quiet Water New York, 2nd edition (2007) by John Hayes and Alex Wilson.

Adirondack Paddler’s Guide, 2nd edition (2009), by Dave Cilley, is a useful book – especially when used in conjunction with Dave’s Adirondack Paddler’s Map, 4th edition (2010). Both the book and the map are available at St. Regis Canoe Outfitters store locations (Lake Clear and Saranac Lake), or by contacting Dave at

Trip Planning and Equipment Rentals (this is not meant to be a comprehensive list as there are several other good outfitters in the area).

Adirondack Exposure though located in the Old Forge area runs trips on Cranberry Lake.

Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters is located in Saranac Lake.

Raquette River Outfitters has locations in Long Lake and Tupper Lake.

St. Regis Canoe Outfitters has locations in Lake Clear and Saranac Lake.

Web Cam
Cranberry Lake Lodge has a web cam that, besides protecting their gas pump, gives a good view down the lake to the south:

Photo Gallery
Scanned color photographs taken using Kodak, single use, water resistant cameras. Time of year is mostly late fall and early spring. Sorry no particular order, but if you wade through them, you'll get a feel for the place.

GPS Waypoints
Caveat is that though these waypoints have been field checked and Goggle Earth Version 5.0 checked, a GPS unit should never be a substitute for having a map and a compass, and the skills to use them.

I carry two compasses, one on the deck and one attached to my PFD. I occasionally use my very basic GPS unit; and in addition, I always carry a second, identical, completely programmed back-up GPS unit, plus extra batteries. If you use any technology, it can and sometimes will fail.

1.Cranberry Lake Village: Public Boat Ramp Put-In
N 44° 13.260’ W 74° 50.850’

2.Cranberry Lake Village: Emporium Marina Put-In
N 44° 13.267’ W 74° 50.250’

3.Village Swimming Beach: Put-In
(Use during OFF SEASON ONLY when Beach is CLOSED)
N 44° 13.260’ W 74° 50.200’

4.Thompson Bay
N 44° 13.075’ W 74° 49.818’

5.Cranberry Lake Public Campground: Day Use Area Put-In (Dog Island)
N 44° 12.190’ W 74° 49.818’

6.Union Point: Camp Site #1 (Sandy Beach)
N 44° 11.012’ W 74° 49.569’

7.Camp Site #2 (Small Sandy Beach to Right of Camp Site)
N 44° 11.132’ W 74° 48.338’

8.Burnt Rock: Camp Site #3
N 44° 11.011’ W 74° 48.200’

9.Brandy Brook Flow: Camp Site #4
N44° 11.168’ W74° 47.970’

10.Brandy Brook Flow (Nice Sandy Beach)
N 44° 11.563’ W 74° 47.562’

11.Bear Mountain Flow (Small Island Sandy Beach)
N 44° 11.726’ W 74° 47.470’

12.Bear Mountain Flow (Good Lunch Spot)
N 44° 12.130’ W 74° 47.397’

13.Bear Mountain Flow (Swampy Beach)
N 44° 12.359’ W 74° 47.392’

14.End of Bear Mountain Flow
N 44° 12.676’ W 74° 48.210’

15.End of Brady Brook Flow: Camp Site #6
N 44° 12.233’ W 74° 46.714’

16.Brandy Brook Flow: Camp Site #10
N 44° 11.487’ W 74° 47.095’

17.Hedgehog Bay
N 44° 10.667’ W 74° 47.620’

18.Catamount Island: Camp Site #11
N 44° 10.304’ W 74° 47.627’

19.East Inlet: Camp Site #12
N 44° 10.178’ W 74° 47.437’

20.Cranberry Lake Biological Station (Near Barber Island)
N 44° 09.388’ W 74° 48.043’

21.Chair Rock Flow (Entry into the Flow Is by an Island)
N 44° 08.779’ W 74° 48.189’

22.End of Chair Rock Flow: Camp Site #17
N 44° 08.426’ W 74° 47.741’

23.Chair Rock Island: NE Corner
N 44° 08.818’ W 74° 48.651’

24.South Flow
N 44° 08.598’ W 74° 49.050’

25.West Flow (Sandy Beach on a Rocky Point)
N 44° 08.482’ W 74° 49.417’

26.End of West Flow: Camp Site #18
N 44° 08.396’ W 74° 49.536’

27.Coles Point
N 44° 09.348’ W 74° 49.027’

28.Buck Island: NE Corner
N 44° 09.505’ W 74° 48.631’

29.Deremo Point
N 44° 09.533’ W 74° 49.291’

30.Witchhobble Point
N 44° 09.681’ W 74° 49.651’

31.Long Point (Joe Indian Island: SE Corner)
N 44° 09.985’ W 74° 49.389’

32.Joes Point (Joe Indian Island: Camp Site #20)
N 44° 10.114’ W 74° 49.440’

33.Joe Indian Island: Camp Site #19
N 44° 10.203’ W 74° 49.616’

34.Joe Indian Island: Camp Site #25
N 44° 10.053’ W 74° 50.217’

35.Hawks Island
N44° 09.947’ W 74° 50.133’

36.Shanty Rock Flow: Elephant Rock
N 44° 09.702’ W 74° 50.414’

37.Kimbal Island: E side
N 44° 09.880’ W 74° 50.460’

38.Arnolds Point
N 44° 09.852’ W 74° 50.904’

39.Unnamed Island (Has an Outhouse; Good Stop on Way to Janacks Landing; High Traffic Area)
N 44° 09.561’ W 74° 51.498’

40.Janacks Point: Camp Site #28
N 44° 09.149’ W 74° 51.585’

41.Black Duck Hole (Sandy Beach)
N 44° 08.389’ W 74° 51.411’

42.Black Duck Hole: Camp Site #31
N 44° 08.514’ W 74° 51.393’

43.Janacks Landing: Camp Sites #36 and #37
N 44° 06.759’ W 74° 53.539’

44.Lansings Point
N 44° 08.403’ W 74° 52.437’

45.Flatiron Point (Rock with “Wanakena” Painted on It)
N 44° 09.209’ W 74° 52.563’

46.Wanakena: Public Put-In (Near Pine Cone Restaurant)
N 44° 08.303’ W 74° 54.930’

47.State Ranger School (NO Public Put-In)
N 44° 08.756’ W 74° 54.024’

48.Wanakena Flow (Pee Spot)
N 44° 08.928’ W 74° 53.474’

49.Pea Vine Trail Lean –To: Camp Site #41
N 44° 09.191’ W 74° 53.023’

50. Norway Island
N 44° 10.359’ W 74° 50.002’

51.Green Bay: Camp Site #45
N 44° 10.495’ W 74° 50.685’

52.Gull Rock
N 44° 10.685’ W 74° 50.193’

53.Birch Island: N Corner
N 44° 11.050’ W 74° 50.133’

54.La Fountain Bay
N 44° 11.305’ W 74° 50.651’

55.Matilda Bay
N 44° 12.609’ W 74° 50.384’

56.Chipmunk Bay
N 44° 12.879’ W 74° 50.413’

See you on the water.


Cranberry Lake still frozen
Cranberry Lake is still frozen. Plus there is a bear problem. They are attacking men over 40 who use way points.


passing thru cranberry
tomorrow afternoon on 3rd trip around Low’s loop in a single day. Unlike last 2 solo trips, will have a paddling’ partner along this time

hopeing for calm winds & minimal beaverdams on upper oswegatchie

You be the man!


Was Worried About You

– Last Updated: Jun-07-11 8:03 PM EST –

When I did not hear from you earlier.

Thought that:

1. Rabid moose might have attacked you on Cat
Mountain climb.

2. Your last year's kayak sailing experiments might
have been too "sparky".

Keep on dragging that "wee boot" across the pack ice on Cranberry.