Saranac lake trip critique?

I found a trip suggestion for a 3 to 5 day paddle at, in NY, called Saranac Lake Base to Tupper Lake. I've never kayak camped in NY (all my trips have been in PA/MD). Would this 40-mile, two-portage trip make a good first adventure in NY? Three to five days for a 40-miler seems like a very easy schedule, even if the portages are challenging, which I think they are not. I'd be doing the trip solo,probably in september, with a 30-pound composite kayak and my ultralight gear, base weight 8 pounds, plus 1.5 pounds food/day. I'm a master of the ultralight camping part of water tripping, I'm a solid long-distance paddler and have put in many a day of 30+ mile paddling on still water and rivers. Suggestions or critiques or alternatives to this trip?

Sounds like you could do it in two
I have paddled the entire route in bits and pieces. Axton to Tupper is a day. Lower to completing Middle Saranac and over Bartlett Carry ( which has some bog bridging…not cart friendly) to Upper is a day.

Howver there is lots to see on side trips. Weller Pond is well worth staying on.

Once on Upper Saranac you can enter the Rollins or Follensby Clear Loop. Sure there are portages but they are relatively short.

And if you hit the Raquette River too early its a mild workout to go up to Raquette Falls.

All in all with some side diversions you can put some good miles on.

It’s OK

– Last Updated: May-11-12 7:44 PM EST –

I think there are better paddling opportunities in the area. The first part on Lower Saranac means you will probably be paddling into a head wind until you reach the Saranac River portion then things get nice. Middle Saranac is nice as Kayamedic alluded to. The last part on Stoney Creek and the Raquette River is good too. I think it would be a great trip if you start at the Second Pond Campground thus eliminating the initial paddling into the wind.


– Last Updated: May-12-12 11:26 AM EST –

You may want to order the Paddlers Map which denotes all put in's, carries and campsites. It's well worth the change for paddling in that area.

also if you are camping on Middle Weller or Lower you need a camping permit.

Second Pond is the headquarters for Saranac Lake Islands Campground. Note that you can also reserve, which is advisable.

ADK trip
below is a link to the Paddler’s map if you have not already found it… The paddler’s map and the book are well worth the $40 or so U’ll spend on them. I have not paddled Saranac but I can attest to the wind on the lakes,as I have gone thru the area many times. You may also find some useful info on the following website: Some other useful links:

Also research P-Net for past articles and reviews on Saranac’s.

I wouldnt avoid Saranac because of wind
of course it can happen but its usually dead calm in the AM.

Paddled it two dozen times at least over 50 years. I used to live an hour from there.

This goes for any of the three big Saranacs.

One can do the route in one hard day, which you seem capable of, or an easy two days. Either way, start on Lower before the prevailing winds pick up in the afternoon. [I live on the NE end of Lower Saranac.]

The locks between Middle and Lower are easily locked through or carried. Bartlet carry into Upper is a twenty minute, uphill, jaunt. The longer Indian Carry is basically flat. From there, the current, like the force, will be with you.

Repeating others, get St Regis Outfitter’s book and map. Re edited this year, they are the ultimate source of information.

Saranac Lake to Tupper Trip
There would be two concerns in a kayak. The Bartlett carry is tight going west on the first part uphill to the road. you will be carrying uphill through woods with trees right along the trail and at every turn. Its not long 300yds maybe. And the last stretch is downhill on a gravel road.

The Indian Carry is the reverse in your planned direction. Flat gravel road to Rt3 then wooded trail from there to the Stoney creek ponds. This one is about a mile. The wooded section is tight. A long boat needs to be carried with care to watch the trees.

The second concern is stoney creek. It really bends back on itself all the way to the Raquette River. Be prepared for turn after turn of 180’s.

You stated the weight of your kayak and that it is composite but not much about its length or shape. Hopefully it is in the middle range and you are familiar with long portages and tight streams

This is a very nice trip. Enjoy it.


It’s not so bad

– Last Updated: May-14-12 9:00 PM EST –

I don't believe the wooded section of Bartlett carry is anything like 300yds. It only seems like it when there are lots of black flies or deer flies. Honestly, it really isn't that bad of a carry. There is one turn between a couple of large trees that may take some maneuvering with a longer boat. After that you are on a hard gravel road for less than 0.4 mile, up and over a hill, down the other side to USL.

On Indian Carry, after crossing Rte 3 you can head to Coreys Road instead of taking the more difficult trail through the woods. Turn right for a couple hundred yards on Rte 3 and you will easily see it. Coreys is paved to a public put-in on the W side of Stony Pond in just a half mile at the bottom of a gentle hill. I quite like paddling Stony Creek with its twists and turns. It is wide enough so maneuvering, even if you have to go slowly, is not a problem. In my opinion it is not to be missed. The shoreline vegetation is quite different from anywhere else, and especially the long undulating waving silky hair-like grass growing on the bottom below you is mesmerizing.