Planning a 2 nights Canoe Loop to the St Regis / Saranac Lake (ideas?)

We will be 3 (me two teens and a dog).

I would like to do a loop. What do you think of the following trip ideas?

  • Lower Saranac Lake (that seems the best option)
  • Paddling along Long Pond (is it big enough for 2 nights, can I easily branch out to other lakes).
  • Raquette River to falls and return
  • Forked Lake and Racquette Lake

What would be the nicest? I would love not to have a headwind and I read that Saranac lake might be hard with the wind.

I have ordered the guide and map but already planning…

Every time I have done long lake, it was just several hours. Stretching to a couple days seems like a bit much to me, but I guess it is possible if you really go exploring. Our goal is to get the flat water over with.

We usually put in in late morning and camp at the end of long lake. The portage around the falls is mid morning day 2.

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What type of a canoe are you planning to haul 3 people, a dog and camping gear on a river?

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We have 2 canoes an OT Camper 16 and a MR Explorer 16

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Thanks Mike
The more I look into it the more I think of going to Raquette and Forked lake.
we are leaving this Friday and campings are still available there.
However if you have a good loop to recommend for a 3 day trip, please do :wink:

My trips have always been long lake to Tupper lake and I think take either 4 or 5 days. With some motivation, 3 days could happen, but that is way harder paddling than we are looking to do. Tupper is a tough finish to that trip being flat water.

I did the portage, and the whole trip, once while soloing a 84lb canoe. Once. Never again.

It’s a beautiful area for sure. Some nice camping spots along the way

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Adirondacks are jammed again this spring and will stay so thru the summer. Pandemic refuge for a lot of downstaters. I suggest you make any needed reservations early and often, hotels and camp sites.

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Any of the larger lakes like Raquette and the Saranacs can turn ugly if any wind picks up. Having said that, I’ve been to Little Tupper several times and was able to mostly stay in the lee when it picked up there. Plenty of campsites and exploring to do too. Long Lake is ok but it’s mostly just narrow and well, kind of long. Other than being on the water and paddling, it didn’t hold a huge interest for me.

I’ve taken the Raquette River to the falls and back from Axton Landing, easy pleasant one day. If you left from further down you can make a couple day trip out of it, longer if you get lost in the oxbows. :slight_smile:

If you want a loop, for the most part you’ll be looking at carries. Follensby Clear Pond area has a few ponds with short carries that is interesting. You can tie in Upper Saranac too if you want and weather cooperates.

Hoel Pond to Long Pond can be done in a day and it’s inside St. Regis Canoe Area. Plenty of campsites and maybe a hike to Long Pond Mtn. There’s a pipe under the RR tracks from Hoel we were able to float our boats thru but it might depend on water levels.

I’m hoping to get up this season sometime. I’d like to do the Seven Carries Route with a “base camp” on St. Regis Pond. Just a few thoughts.

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Lower Saranac does get quite windy and challenging. You can put in at Ampersand Bay, but expect a quartering headwind when paddling south until you get to the river outlet. From there it is not far to the village and not a very far hike back to Ampersand Bay if you want to do a loop.

Long Lake is almost always windy, at least it seems to be during every 90 mile canoe race. Long and generally uninteresting with frequent motor boat wakes to deal with. Depending on when you go, if the water level is high in spring or after days of rain, expect a respectable current in the river when heading upstream on your return from Raquette Falls. Then you would have the length of Long Lake to padddle to the south, likely into a wind in the PM. If you can arrange for the carry around the falls, it is a good trip to continue downsream to take out at the “Crusher” boat launch, or to go all the way through the oxbow to take out at Moody Boat Launch at Tupper Lake.

Hoel to Long Pond is a good trip with plenty of possible side trips, including trails to LP Mountain, Mountain,Nellie and Bessie Ponds, and Pink and Ledge Ponds as possible interesting visits. I have done that and hiked the road back to my car left at Hoel.

If you want to do Raquette Lake to Forked, be sure to get an early morning start on Raquette. Note that, except for the far western end, the numbered campsites on Forked require a reservation. Several years ago the 90 mile canoe race route was changed to go to Blue Mountain Lake instead of to Forked due to how often Raquette gets high winds and unreasonably rough on the northern end.

If I were you, I’d reccomend the Hoel to Long Pond with a day or two for side trips built in.

Thanks all for your recommendations.
After reading the above recommendations I am now seriously considering Racquette River and the first come first served camp sites along the way.

Stan I would suggest you put in/launch at Follensby Clear Pond. You can get a great campsite on that pond. Then you can paddle to under a culvert into Fish Creek Pond to Little Square, Square and to Floodwood Pond. You can even paddle into Rollins Pond. Many really nice campsites along the way too. *Might want to purchase an Adirondack Paddle Map. Great maps.

Paddling the Raquette River from Raquette Pond up to the falls and back is about a 46 mile round trip. Beautiful area but I don’t know about the camping along the route. I believe it was FCFS and fairly limited. I’ve done it in three segments, out and back. Raquette Pond to Crusher Landing 15.1 miles, Crusher Landing to Axton Landing 18 miles, and Axton to the Falls 12.5 miles, all round trip distances. An easy paddle unless the current is really strong. Lean-tos are present along the way and were usually free mid week, but this was pre-pandemic.

Hello and thanks everyone and especially @ rstevens15.

We did 2 nights and three days on the Raquette river which were amazing.

Here is a film I have done. More of a family vacation film than anything but it will give you a good idea of the trip: