has anyone paddled and camped there ?? is this a very built up area ? i have padled on lower and middle saranac and they were nice and remote with reserved camp sites.
Of the 3 Saranac lakes, Upper has by far the most private shoreline (75%, I’d estimate) & thus, most development. It’s also managed differently than others. It’s 20 or so primitive campsites, inc a leanto in Saginaw Bay & 6-7 sites on 2 state owned islands, are available free, yr around on 1st come, 1st served basis.
Middle & Lower are operated as a campground from mid-May to Labor Day w/ reservations & fees required. One can’t just claim an open site & wait till ranger shows up for payment as was previously allowed.
Development on Upper results in much more motorized traffic. Regardless, it’s still a very scenic lake & well worth paddling. All 3 are @ their best off-season
Yes, Upper Saranac is more built-up than the middle or lower and its campsites are first-come, first-served. I’ve found it really easy to camp on Follensby Clear Pond and paddle through Fish Creek for daytrips on Upper Saranac. None of this is what I’d call remote but then again, no carries either.
I really like camping on Upper…
I'm pretty familiar with the area, having worked for the DEC at both the Saranac Lake Islands campground (Lower and Middle) and Fish Creek campground. I would actaully rather camp on Upper than on Lower and Middle, particularly during the peak season.
Upper Saranac is a very large lake, and even if there were more boat traffic (which isn't true based on my experiance) the lake is so large that if you choose a site well you'll be away from most of it. Many of the sites are very nice, though as the people above said it can be hit or miss. I've camped on Green Island, Buck island, and on the east shore north of Buck, and I liked all the sites.
One other MAJOR benefit of camping at Upper is the boat launch... these days it can be a huge pain trying to launch a boat at the second pond site (lower saranac), and half the time you can't even find a parking space there (gone are the days where you could stick your boat trailer in the woods and find a spot to squeeze in your truck, they've put in huge boulders blocking all the extra "spaces," and they ticket cars every day). The Upper Saranac launch is much less busy.
Also, like I said I really don't think that Upper gets more boat traffic than Lower. Years ago maybe, but not anymore. Lower Saranac is a mad house during the middle of the season, and people are showing up with more and bigger boats every year (you just don't need dual 150 hpr motors on this lake). If you're looking for some real peace and quiet, I'd check out the St. Regis Canoe Area, you don't have to worry about any motors in there afterall.
Upper Saranac gets the hoards of motorboats from those camping at adjacent Fish Creek Pond, in summer. The further one is away from the Fish Creek Pond waterway connector, the quieter it will be.
I have usually camped on the east side
so maybe that’s why it seemed quieter to me. That being said, there are deffinitly hoards of motor boats on Lower Saranac too.
St. Regis Canoe Area
Is the way to go IMO . If you are going off peak, then the Saranacs are fine . I travelled through all 3 in mid September and even the big lakes were pretty quiet . But in peak season, get off them as soon as you can unless you like noise .
Another put in option would be the boat launch on Middle Saranac.
to many people
my vacation is for the first week of july .i’ll have to find a place that i can make reservations at. can’t take a chance of driving 8hrs and not getting a site on a busy week
Upper Saranac L
So why didn’t you just originally ask if one could reserve campsites on Upper Saranac ???
Oh, in that case
I’d recommend either reserving two sites near each other, or contacting the DEC in Raybrook about getting a group site. There is a limit of 6 ppl per site on both Lower and Middle, with the exception of a few group sites, which can’t be reserved online (Reserve America), but rather have to be reserved through the DEC
Use Follensby Clear Pond
as Maluso recommends for your base camp. There are many water access sites on this pond and i have never seen them all full. The two parking lots won’t hold enough cars to fill the sites. Set up on Follensby Clear and then paddle out and check out the sites on Upper Saranac. You can also go the other way easily from Follensby Clear and explore the St.Regis in daytrips without toting a lot of gear over the portages. It is possible to loop the St. Regis from Follensby Clear thru Fish Creek and Floodwood Pond.
Glen L. is the guy for the particulars, but add a few hours to his times, he motors at race pace.
I like fish pond in the St Regis area,I go in on sunday when every one else is leaving and I have my pick of camp sites