Cranberry Lake

-- Last Updated: Jun-10-09 8:39 PM EST --

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. 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 are a lot more fun! 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), the end of Dead Creek Flow 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
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 late May, and then again from mid October until the lake freezes over, can subjectively feel like a “wilderness” type paddling experience.

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”.

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 - a dry suit or a dry top and dry pants are in order. 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 waves and weather.

There are four places to put in: 1) Emporium Marina in Cranberry lake Village (charge unknown, located in a high boat traffic area and in the wind slot); 2) 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); 3) 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); 4) Wanakena put-in near Pine Cone Restaurant (free, less power boat traffic, sheltered from wind, 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 best to reserve a site early.

As regards other lodging, both Cranberry Lake Lodge and Stone Manor 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 probably your best bet, Jan Ploff Realty (Cranberry lake) located on Columbian Road.

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 Janack’s 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 both the 1st and 2nd editions of this map omitted shoreline campsites #27, #28, #44, #45 and #46. So you may want to pick up 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.

Probably more useful to flat-water paddlers, Quiet Water New York, 2nd edition (2007) by John Hayes and Alex Wilson.

Just published in July 2008 by Paddlesports Press, Dave Cilley's Adirondack Paddler’s Guide is a must have book. It is available at St. Regis Canoe Outfitters store locations, 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.

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.


for the info on Cranberry Lake. I’m still researching different lakes but hadn’t gotten to Cranberry yet. Thanks for taking the time to enter all that info!


Good stuff
May be good if you can copy it over to the Places 2 Paddle area, so people can more easily find this:

Place to paddle

You are absolutely right!



bring hiking boots too
there are some wonderful places to hike in the area…Cat Mountain is one of my favs.

cranberry lake hiking

– Last Updated: Mar-23-08 1:02 PM EST –

In the day, before my knees got "tired" from too much tele skiing and tech climbing, did some nice hikes in the area.

Will edit my post to reflect hiking opportunities for those whose knees still work well.

Thank you for your comment.


Cranberry Lake
The bugs can be really bad. And the winds can be strong and sometimes sink small boats. Locals are not always friendly. It’s best to go to Lake Placid or the Fulton Chain of lakes. Tupper Lake is nice.

let me see, you would like the lake to yourself…

seems to me

– Last Updated: Mar-25-08 7:05 PM EST –

that most of the small boat sinkings reported on Cranberry lake have involved canoes of Rushton design, especially the Wee Lassie.

by too large people.

nessmuk fact check

– Last Updated: Mar-26-08 6:08 PM EST –

Following information is a direct quote from a Narragansett Indian of indeterminate age named "wood drake" (aka "goggle"):

"Although Nessmuk seems to have spent actually few nights under canvas, and more time around the "camps" (resort hotels) then the fishing holes, and when available he used steam boat decks rather the the paddle,he did through his writings greatly popularize and demonstrate that it was possible to paddle your own canoe through the wilderness without destroying the environment or a working man's savings".

Cranberry Lake
I’ve paddled Cranberry lake before from Wanakena, we were on a time limit and decided to drive around the main part of the lake and launch in the south part which seams more interesting in terms of exploring the nooks and crannies of the dead river flow, etc, Indian Island and the Ranger school.

My friend didn’t have a kayak so we had to rent one from the Marina on Rt 3 that seems to be for sale. Cheap, but the kayak we got was missing a foot peg and we had to improvise (dumb on our part not to check before we left…!). Of course, they didn’t have a problem with us mounting the kayak to my roof rack and taking off, I would think a lot of rental places only allow you to launch from their store, we could of taken it elsewhere…


George Washington Sears
was a very small man, about 120 lbs.

And people twice his size want to paddle a Sairy Gamp… hah…no wonder they get into trouble.

When the pig is bigger the washtub has to be too.

We camped
at Jankins landing right after the 95 blow down, what a mess. We cut out some nice camp chairs from a big Maple tree that was resting on top of the lean to there. I assume the trails are all open again but the legs arnt what they usto be

added 56 gps waypoints

– Last Updated: Mar-29-08 1:22 PM EST –

While these waypoints have been field checked, cavet is that gps is no substitute for map and compass, and skill with using same.

Peter-CA suggested that I post Cranberry Lake info on pnet's "Places 2 Paddle"; and I have just received confirmation of my submission from pnet.

Anyone wanting a more field friendly version of the waypoints is welcome to e-mail me privately. I was locked into funky formatting when posting these waypoints on pnet.

Cranberry Lake
Thanks for the way points. Where is the best place to launch a Jet Ski? Is there a speed limit near Janick’s Landing?

Best place
to launch a jet ski is in the large parking lot behind the Cranberry Lake Village Community Center.

As you pilot your Rushton designed jet ski toward the summit of Cat Mountain (near Janacks Landing) you will observe the clearly marked jet ski speed limit signs. Remember that rabid moose have the right of way on this trail.


now posted on Places 2 Paddle
Kevin did a great job of layout and picked some nice pictures.

cranberry lake is open for business
Nice day of boating, though a trifle windy at times: Village -> Catamount Island -> Joe Indian Island -> Village.

Even with all the right clothing, you can feel the cold through the boat.

issues raised by

– Last Updated: Jun-06-08 5:23 PM EST –

NYS DEC removal of floating camps from Brandy Brook Flow.