Stillwater Reservoir, Adirondacks?

Adirondack paddlers,

There’s always lots of chat on my favorite places . . . Little Tupper, Lows lake, St. Regis Canoe Area, etc. But I don’t recall any paddling posts discussing Stillwater. I assume it is due to more remote driving access or a high number of motor boats. Any experiences camping and paddling this western Adk lake (supposedly having the highest loon pop in NYS)

I love it. Paddle the bays on the North side to avoid the shipping chanel, and bring big arms for that aftrenoon headwind.

Stillwater & beyond
It is a long way there and a big body of water. My only trip there was a 3 day journey into the 5 ponds wilderness late July 2003. I took the easy way to start by hiring a water taxi to get me & my kayak the approx. 5 miles to the Red Horse trail head. From there a rough (for wheels) portage trail to Salmon Lake, paddle north, and another portage to Witchopple. It was beautiful and saw no one until I hit the trail head again on the way out.

The paddle out was fine. As was said, the wind does pick up and I felt safer being in a kayak than canoe.

The number of power boaters, and people, make the main body less attractive than many other places in the Adirondacks. You can find quiet in the bays it seems. You do need to cover a lot of distance however.

I haven’t been there in years. The drive isn’t a problem for me, but I’m not particularly fond of the place. There’s something a bit too contrived about it for me. I can’t put my finger on it.

That said, one of the worst trips I ever had was on Stillwater. Too hot, too many black flies, and when we came out, everyone asked us what we thought about the slow white Bronco chase. It seems my partner & I were a handful of people in the US of A who weren’t watching the O.J. Simpson chase. We really were WAY out of the loop!

However, that doesn’t match the people I met at a gas station a little while ago. I was the first person they talked with after they came out of the woods after a week long trip. They had their CD’s playing in the car until they reached the gas station. It was September 12, 2001.

On the other hand, some of the best paintings I’ve ever seen that involved canoes is hanging on the walls at the Stillwater Restaurant. I’ve been thinking about going back for another look…and to see if they are for sale.

has been discussed in the past. You may want to do a search.

IMO it’s as worthy a destination as any other lg lake that allows motors (another discussion) It’s 46 campsites offer a range of choices although I agree w/ MM that sign-in board is a dismal failure & other MM that it can be tough getting out when W wind is up.

It’s undeveloped except for hamlet of Stillwater & isolated Beaver River Station & offer numerous sidetrips if you tire of reservoir

Highly recommend carry into Salmon L but set your boat down occasionally so as not to miss old growth pines on trail. W/ some lining you can paddle into Witchhopple & enjoy a “secret” secluded campsite on it’s far N shore. From there it’s an easy paddle, except for lifting over one of tallest beaverdams I’ve ever seen, into aptly named Beaverdam Pond. W/ a litle more ambition you can carry E over ridge & explore crystal clear Little Rock Pond or Clear L @ end of Red Horse trail. Haven’t yet visited Crooked L or ponds to it’s SW but someday …

Peaked Mt L, a sidetrip from campsite #4 is scenic & remote feeling. Just to it’s E, Wolfe Creek is worth following N from waterfall mouth deep into 5 Ponds Wilderness.

Also recommend hike up overlook from Kettle Hole Bay (land @ lg rock w/ painted bullseye) W/ sufficient time you can also paddle & carry from this bay N for 6m. thru 5 ponds of Wilderness Lakes tract. Ponds are scenic but shorelines were logged as recently as 1990 & show it.

You can paddle up Beaver R into Lake Lila but be prepared for a less than warm welcome from Nehasane folks

Enjoy !

Stillwater area bugs
One thing I need to add to my earlier post. My trip from Stillwater into the 5 ponds area in late July '03 was marred by the worst attack of Deer Flies I have ever experienced, by far. Perhaps it was unusual but they were on me from the moment I hit the shore at the North end of Trout Lake for the next 3 days, particularly heavy when on a trail.

They did not depart when “swatted”, and bit right through shirts. I assume my timing was unfortunate, and hope that a possible future trip would be less impacted. I do expect to go back sometime, likely before mid-May, or past Labor Day in hopes of fewer attackers.