First ever canoe & camping trip to Adks

Hi. I’ve never been canoeing and camping. I want to take my 2boys (5yrs old) this summer. Can somebody please offer me suggestions on a fun and easy canoe route with campsites to stay at? If my wife will come too, the campsites will need facilities. Thank you!!

Great place to go
Saw your square back vs double ended canoe post on the advice board, so i will attempt to answer both here.

Square back canoes tend to be heavy and wide. Good for stability, poor for carrying and paddling. You can easily mount a small outboard or trolling motor on a double end canoe.

For a first time trip, considering your wife’s need for facilities (I am guessing toilet and shower house would make her happy), i would suggest going to one of the state campgrounds that are on water. Fish Creek campground and the connnected Rollins Pond would best suite your first trip. From either one you can canoe a nice easy loop thru calm ponds and streams. Then return to your base camp with facilities and places for the young ones to burn off energy. All the sites at Fish Creek are on the water, you can boat right from your campsite. Rollins has the majority on the water and the rest are just across the road from it. They do fill up fast so make an online reservation as soon as possible.

Near Fish Creek are outfitters than will rent you different models of canoes. That will allow you to try different models and compare them. Mac’s Canoe in Lake Clear is within 10 minutes of the entrance to Fish Creek and they are good folks to deal with, both in rentals and purchasing. There is another outfitter south of Tupper lake right by the bridge where the Raquette River comes out of Simon Pond. Mac’s proximity to Fish Creek would be the most convenient.

Fish Creek and Rollins Pond are just outside the St.Regis Canoe Area where most of the water is off limits to motors. Good places to begin your canoeing, and build up your skills before you venture out on the big lakes with big waves and big boat wakes.

This year work on experience and finding the right canoe for your usage. Then in 2012 you can tackle and easy wilderness trip thru the St. Regis Area or down the Raquette River from Long Lake to Tupper Lake, or back into the Lowes Lake/Bog River area. There are free first come first served campsites in all three mentioned areas, but their facilites are limited to an outhouse, fire ring and picnic table. For bathing, you go swimming. For drinking water,you filter or chlorinate.

For a canoe my personal reccommendation for your usage would be a 17’ composite canoe such as the Wenonah Spirit II as the minimum size. The outfitters can put in several for test paddles and you will quickly find out what you like. Buying a canoe you will balance your wallet against your back. The lighter canoes become, the more expensive they become. Its not carrying the canoe to the water that determines how much weight you can handle, its getting back up the bank and onto the car at the end of each outing. Anything over 75# is heavy with a capital H, between 55 & 75 is manageable, and under 55# becomes more fun and less work, especially under 50.

Polyethylene canoes (coleman ram-x, Old Town Cross-Link3, Mad River Triple Tough, etc) will be heavy even in short 14 & 15 foot canoes. Royalex canoes will be manageable and more expensive. Fiberglass and Kevlar canoes will be light and even more expensive. But the difference between the least expensive and most expensive spread over 20 years or even 10 amounts to a cost equal to dinner out with your family each year.

For family paddling with differents sized paddlers in the bow, look to buy a canoe with a sliding bow seat option. For your back make sure the canoe has a carrying yoke at the center of the canoe. Not a tubular thwart or molded in seat, but a yoke.

Post your other questions and the collective experience of all the family will give you the answers.


hey leowis
welcome to pnet… I have to agree with plaidpaddler, hes got the right of it. Especially with the camping thing. My girlfriend of 9 years is only now over the last year or so getting to the point where she is comfortable with the idea of camping with no ammenities, it was almst 8 years of state park and private camp ground facilities, break her into camping slow, it will work out much better, My gf is now to the point where she wants to go to Quetico for a week with me, and it is extreme wilderness, but even 6 years ago, never woulda happened, loved camping, but not the loss of shower etc.

As for the canoe, try again what plaid said, and rent some first. But I would advise not to buy a square back canoe, defeats the purpose. If you don’t like the canoe you’ll know, and then just go to a small john boat, they make some pretty small ones, and a small flat bottom will be more stable with more room if you don’t like the canoe. Look on craigs list and you’ll see all kinds of square backs for sale, but reg canoes… Good luck brother…

Another area of the ADK’s
( and welcome to pnet!) is Buck Pond. This too is base camping with canoeing…you can canoe over to Rainbow lake and back…actually something like 15 miles before you have to portage.

I take it that facilities includes shower…

If thats not needed Forked Lake has boat in only campsites. Most likely you will make multiple trips in with the canoe but that is fine in this context. The facilities at each site would be outhouse.

Here is a listing of the DEC campgrounds.

At this time there is no canoe route that includes showers unless at a DEC campground. Backcountry sites tend to have an outhouse only.

Fish Creek or Rollins Pond campgrounds. You will find all the paddling you want right at your doorstep. Additional outfitters are St. Regis Canoe and Adirondack Lake and Trail in Saranac Lake.

Enjoy your trip.

fish creek rollings pond lake clear area is great. camping on the water

A few lessons/classes…
Have to get going with the basic paddling strokes and canoe balance first…grab lessons/classes asap.

Adirondack FreeStyle Symposium
July 10-14 is right around the corner from Fish Creek and Rollins Pond.

Classes for learning to paddle or learning to paddle more efficiently.

Consider Saranac Islands Campground
This is a great “beginner” canoe camping location. You can reserve a camping spot (with, fire pit, privvy and picnic table) on an island. Depending which of the 60 or so locations it may not be more than a hour or two to get to your private reserved island. Great swimming too. You can reserve a spot by going to Reserve America.

Saranac Island Campsites
These are beautiful campsites, but i will nix the idea for a first time canoeist. The Lakes are very exposed and the waves can get serious very quickly. In addition there is a lot of motorboat traffic to contend with and large wakes which are not a good idea for a father and two 5 year olds.

Stay in calmer waters for the first trip. Gain experience, find your ideal canoe, and then explore the great lakes and rivers of the Adirondacks.

Plus, your chances of getting an island campsite now for anything over i day will be very limited. They fill up 6 months ahead of time. Some islands are reserved the day they open for reservations. It might be 9 months ahead now, have to check the website.


ditto. Lower Saranac can get very

Another possibility is primitive camping in the Whitney Tract.

Little Tupper can get rough but Round Pond adjacent less so.

A very nice trip is going up the Oswegatchie River…While it does have current and might be a little work, it also has forty eight campsites.

What you really need is the Adirondack Paddlers Map. Its available online from several sources.

Lows Lake is also lovely but its a long lake and the campsite hunt might be long. Its popular because of a very short portage.

Also consider Lake Lila. Its a crapshoot…not reservable. If the parking lot is full there is no room. If it is empty go for it. Its a.25 mile walkto the launch downhill. Many sites on Lila have beaches.

Low’s over Lila or Little Tupper
With a new inexperienced crew, the same caution will be in place for Little Tupper & Lila as for Lower Saranac. Low’s Lake can be very rough, but my thought for the OP is that there is a long paddle in thru the Bog River and Hitchins Pond. Many campsites along the way and if they don’t even make it into the main body of Low’s lake, there are nice sites right up to the Sabattis Scout Camp. It pretty all the way in, and pretty protected from the wind, plus no motorboat traffic. What is a couple hour paddle for an experienced crew will be a whole half day for them. Lots of people never make it past the upper dam and go home happy to have camped in the wilderness.