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2021 Adirondacks Fall Paddle:
St. Regis Canoe Area

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The Saint Regis Canoe Area is a popular destination for paddling, though it wasn't until this year that we finally got around to exploring the area. The over 18,400 acre Canoe Area contains about 50 ponds surrounded with forests. 

St. Regis Canoe Outfitters suggest a number of paddling routes, which we pored over prior to the trip.

We ultimately planned for three multi-day legs, returning to the car for re-supply before the second and third legs.

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Paul Smith's VIC offers trails, lean-tos, paddling opportunities - and a place to charge the car

On the first day of our trip, we drove out to the Adirondacks and stopped at Paul Smith's Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC), where we charged the car overnight and camped in a lean-to near a marsh. It was a relaxed and pretty start to the trip, and we received great hospitality from the director of the VIC, Scott van Laer. Scott is a fellow electric vehicle owner and an enthusiastic supporter of the EV charging stations at the facility.

Speaking of electric vehicles, check out this Green Energy Consumers Alliance blog post, in which Glen talks about traveling in and around the Adirondacks in an all-electric vehicle. As he says, with a little planning, you can explore "with absolute confidence".

One of the lean-tos at Paul Smith's VIC, this one is an easy walk from the car yet nicely situated in the woods

We watch the sun set over the marsh at Paul Smith's VIC 

The Floodwood Pond Loop starts and ends St. Regis Canoe Outfitters Floodwood base. The  trip starts with a paddle down beautiful Fish Creek, and passes through Follensby Clear and Hoel Ponds. Although some of the trip is not quite as remote as we like, there were enough positives to the trip, particularly the more secluded ponds on the northern part of the loop.

This loop is described as taking 2 to 3 days but, per usual, we planned the slowpoke approach, with lots of time to explore and enjoy the beauty of the area.

We launched our first loop in Floodwood Pond and paddled Fish Creek to Little Square Pond and Fish Creek Ponds.


Once we passed under Route 30, we paddled up Follensby Clear Pond and carried over to Horseshoe Pond, where we camped two nights on the east shore.

Glen puts in on Floodwood Pond while Twyla looks on from the other boat. Off we go!

Mary paddles on ahead on Fish Creek, surrounded by beauty

The campsite on Horseshoe Pond is a bit well-worn, but it does come with a built-in table : )

Spending two nights at the same campsite allowed us extra time to relax and to explore the verdant woods surrounding our site. It was a moss and lichen extravaganza! 

Studies show that spending time in nature is good for your mental well-being. Spending time in these forests was a balm for what ailed us - which was too much screen time and too much information overload. Here, the only overload was beauty - so much beauty.

Mary and Twyla pause on a downed and mossy tree, surrounded by ferns

Glen leans into a mature yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis)

The hiking was slow-going because every minute there was some living being to explore, examine and, in many cases, photograph

After a day filled with paddling and hiking, we watched the sunset over Horseshoe Pond

Mary stands ready to grab the fronts of both boths - while Glen grabs the backs - and portage to the next pond

Leaving Horseshoe Pond we had several brief but steep carries to access Follensby, Pollywog, and Middle Ponds. We travel light, with all we need fitting into our backpacks. Well, truth be told, Glen has a bit of a challenge in this department. Anyway, in theory, we travel light. And even the dogs carry their own packs filled with their daily rations of kibble.

Nyssa and Glen appear ready to carry to the next pond

The gang lunches on a big boulder along the shore of  Middle Pond

We carried our boats and gear on over to Floodwood Pond, then paddled to a small island where we spent our last night. We could have easily finished the loop that day, but wanted an extra afternoon for exploring - including the discovery of lots of mushrooms.

We finished the loop with an easy paddle out in the morning.

Glen and Nyssa take out on a small island in Floodwood Pond - the location of our campsite

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The Nine Carries trip is described as being famous for solitude and demanding portages. I was a more than a little worried about the "demanding portages" aspect of this route, which goes through the heart of the St. Regis Wilderness Area. Once you commit, there's really no going back!

After returning to our car after our first loop, we moved a couple miles down the dirt road to Long Pond, where we re-supplied our food and fuel stock. We then set off for the Nine Carries.

As soon as we began paddling in Long Pond, we got a taste of what the landscape was going to be like in on Nine Carries trip. In other parts of the Adirondacks we've paddled, we have not always had a view of mountains. In the case of Long Pond, we could see mountains off to the northeast.

The day was calm, as was the water, and there were little flashes of fall color starting to show in the forests.

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Mary paddles ahead on Long Lake, with views of mountains in the distance

The carry between Long and Nellie Ponds was indeed challenging. At 1.3 miles long, it was one of the longer carries we've done.

At points along the carry - where the trail was especially narrow and/or muddy - we had to leave our boats, carry our gear ahead and then go back for our boats.

All in all, the carry wasn't too terrible and it was rather exhillarating for a couple of old fogies to still have enough chutzpah to accomplish it!

Mary and Twyla walk along the portage to Nellie Pond - not the best footing

Mary pushes off into Kit Fox Pond

Glen and his mirror image glide on the glassy water of Little Long Pond

We paddled through Nellie pond and then did a couple short carries to get to Kit Fox Pond and then Little Long Pond, where we had hoped we might camp for a couple nights. As luck would have it, the one campsite on that pond was available, so we took out and made camp. Yay!

Having to get up to pee at night has (few) advantages, such as catching this awesome shot at Little Long Pond

Dang! Some of the portages were short, but oh so steep!

Lots of neighboring ponds made for a nice day of exploring, with the pleasure of knowing we'd be returning to our already set up campsite later in the day.

Didn’t make it too far up this stream, due to rocks in the stream bed

Just hanging out at the campsite on Little Long Pond

There was also time in the afternoon for lounging around at Little Long Pond. It's so great to camp for more than one night at a site.

Funny that the humans did all the paddling, but the dogs are exhausted

Pitcher plants, with cranberry plants (Vaccinium macrocarpon) nestled alongside

Some foraged cranberries made their way into Glen's breakfast

After a tasty breakfast of homemade granola with cranberries foraged on yesterday's meanderings, it was time to break camp and continue on the trip.


On the agenda today were St. Regis Pond - where we would camp for two nights - via Little Fish and Ochre Ponds.

The dogs carry their food in saddlebags, finally pulling their weight!

Saint Regis Pond did not disappoint in its beauty and solitude. Once we set up camp, we had time to explore the woods, enjoy supper and watch the sun set.


A golden sun sets on St. Regis Pond

Leaves of the hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides) turn to autumn colors

Though we enjoyed spotting mushrooms, we ate none for supper

The next day, we left Regis Pond, headed to Slang Pond via Little Clear Pond, Upper Saranac Lake and Hoel and Turtle Ponds. We had been noticing the winds picking up and, in fact, the weather forecast called for windy conditions. This did not bode well for our planned paddle on the large waterbody of Upper Saranac Lake. 

When we arrived at the take out for Little Clear Pond, we had to make a decision to abandon paddling Upper Saranac Lake. So how would we get to Hoel and Turtle Ponds? A quick call to St. Regis Outfitters confirmed that they would not be able to help transport us. We stared at the map some more, seeing that some railroad tracks would lead us to the next pond. So we sucked it up and started portaging - a couple of miles - along an abandoned railroad track bed.

It was a long, long carry on the old railroad bed to bypass the windy Upper Saranac Lake, but we both felt certain we did not want to risk the paddle

Paddling into Slang Pond, the scenery made the long carry worthwhile

After the long railroad bed carry - which entailed many stops to rest - we caught sight of Hoel Pond. We kept a lookout for a possible place where we could scramble through the brush and down to the edge of the pond.

We put in and made our way through Hoel Pond with our final destination, Slang Pond, in the distance.

Our last night on this loop was spent camping on the pond's edge, with a fantastic sunset to end the afternoon.

The last night of this loop of the trip - the reward is a gorgeous sunset over Slang Pond

Third Leg: Bog River to Lows Lake to Horseshoe Lake

We broke camp and paddled out of Slang Pond, making a short carry back to where we started out on this loop - Long Pond. The foliage was just a bit more vibrant on the way out.


After carrying back to the parking lot and re-supplying, we drove our car to Low’s Lower Dam and parked there. We paddled the Bog River into Low’s Lake, where we stayed a few nights at Site 16, one of our favorite sites on Lows Lake.

Back on the water again, this time on our old friend, the Bog River

Putting in the the Bog River is like arriving at an old friend's home. We love the wildness and quiet - and truth be told, we love the familiarity. It's good sometimes to take a trip where we know the route and what to expect.

The Bog River leads to Lows Lake, widening and narrowing along the way. At one point, there is a floating bog that creates a pinch point, where the passage on water is only a few feet wide.

There are a few campsites on the Bog River on the way to Lows, were we sometimes stop and have lunch or just stretch our legs.

Glen paddles past the narrow point at the floating bog and through the tree skeleton

Several floating bogs can be found on the Bog River and in Lows Lake (also known as the Bog River Flow)

Although it was quite windy, there were quiet spots to be found in the sheltered areas in the Bog River Flow

Fall colors were just starting to pop, including the red maples and the bog plants and mosses. These colors provided such a great contrast with the white heads of the cotton grass in the bogs.

Glen and Nyssa glide past a floating bog, enjoying the calm of this sheltered spot on the Bog River

Rich fall colors burnish the foliage of the marshy areas and bogs

We spent our days exploring the edges of Lows Lake. We stuck to the nooks and crannies during the windy parts of the days. It’s a big lake for our little boats, so we played it safe, as we always do.

A calm inlet provides shelter on Lows Lake

Play time for the kids

The sun sits low in the afternoon sky, highlighting the cloud formations

A Twyla's-eye-view of the forest floor, littered with beech and birch leaves

Something we like about site 16 on Lows Lake is that it is situated in a more upland setting, which is a nice change from other sites. There are pretty woods behind the campsite to explore and the woods are open enough to allow for hiking around without having to bushwhack.

Glen paddles along the Bog River on our return trip to the car

Returning the way we came on the Bog River provides more chances to enjoy the changing leaf colors

After returning to our car, stowing our gear and boats, we drove a short distance to Horseshoe Lake. Here we car camped, walking in the quarter mile or so with our tent and necessary gear for the night.

This is another of our favorite spots, in this case because of convenience - though it is a beautiful lake.

It was quite a chilly night and we awoke to steam rising off the water. After a leisurely breakfast, we hiked out, packed up and drove home, another enjoyable adventure in the rear view mirror.

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