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The vast network of rivers and lakes in the Adirondacks makes canoeing one of the best ways to experience the outdoors here. Trips of 100 mi or more are possible, as are short day trips geared for beginners.
St. Regis Wilderness Canoe Area. Motorboats aren't allowed in this pristine wilderness, which includes part of Upper Saranac Lake and stretches northwest. One of the best areas for canoeing in the Northeast, it encompasses nearly 60 ponds and lakes and more than 100 mi of navigable waters connected by portages. Primitive campsites (first-come, first-served) are scattered around the various ponds. One route, called the Seven Carries, takes you about 9 mi from Little Clear Pond to Upper St. Regis Lake. It makes a good day trip, but it's not a loop, so you need to arrange for a way to get back to Saranac Lake. The 11-mi Nine Carries route is more challenging and has tougher portages. To get to Little Clear Pond and other access points from Saranac Lake, take Route 86 north to Route 186 and turn left (west). Local outfitters and the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce (518/891–1990 or 800/347–1992 saranaclake.com) can provide more information about paddling in the area.
To the southwest, between Old Forge and Raquette Lake, is the 16-mi Fulton Chain of Lakes, also popular with canoeists. The Lower Fulton Chain begins with Old Forge Pond to the south and ends at Seventh Lake to the north. A 1-mi portage links this eight-lake cluster (from Eighth Lake) to Raquette Lake, from which you may paddle north. The Fulton Chain of Lakes Association (
The Web site of the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council has a handy interactive map detailing canoe and kayak routes in the area. The council also provides a free "Adirondack Waterways Guide" with route descriptions and maps. 518/846–8016 or 800/487–6867. www.adk.com.
Franklin County Tourism offers canoe maps that cover the St. Regis area. 10 Elm St., Malone, NY, 12953. 518/483–9470 or 800/709–4895. www.adirondacklakes.com.
Canoe rentals are available at most lakes in the Adirondacks, both on a daily and an extended basis. For extended trips, hiring a guide service is strongly recommended.
The Adirondack Foothills Guide Service runs canoe day trips and overnight camping excursions and can outfit you, whether or not you need a guide. 518/359–8194. www.adkfoothills.com.
In addition to being able to outfit canoe and camping trips, Adirondack Lakes and Trails offers lessons and guided excursions. 541 Lake Flower Ave., Saranac Lake, NY. 800/491–0414. www.adirondackoutfitters.com.
Raquette River Outfitters, a great source for information about canoeing and kayaking in the area, can help you put together a paddling trip. The shuttle service brings your boat to the launch and has your car waiting for you at the end of the route. The store rents and sells canoes, kayaks, and camping equipment. You may also buy fly-fishing gear here. 1754 Rte. 30, Tupper Lake, NY, 12986. 518/359–3228. www.raquetteriveroutfitters.com.
St. Regis Canoe Outfitters has day trips as well as longer excursions into the St. Regis Wilderness Canoe Area, guiding services, and kayak and canoe rentals and instruction. Some canoe trips include mountain hikes. You may also buy camping and other gear here. 73 Dorsey St., Saranac Lake, NY. 518/891–1838 or 888/775–2925. www.stregiscanoeoutfitters.com. From April to October, St. Regis runs a Floodwood branch at the Long Pond portage. Floodwood Rd., Lake Clear. 518/891–8040.
Tickner's Canoe Rentals has canoe and kayak rentals and organizes paddles, short and long, on Moose River and in the Fulton Chain of Lakes. Floats include the kayak or canoe, a life vest, and shuttle service. One package includes return transportation on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Rte. 28, Old Forge, NY, 14320. 315/369–6286. www.ticknerscanoe.com.