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Old 03-13-2017, 02:52 PM   #1
Scooter_Canoe
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Blue Mt Lake to Saranac Lakes

Every winter this paddling forum get too quiet, but for expected reasons. But with Spring upon us, itís time to start making spring/summer paddling plans.

This year my wife, dog, and I are looking to paddle from Blue Mountain Lake and ending up somewhere around the Saranac Lakes. We have done several river trips and a few pond trips, but never a muti-lake trip such as this. We have done a trips to Lows Lake/Lake Lila/Little Tupper Lake, but the size of those lake does not compare to the majority of the lakes on this trip. I wanted to get a lake trip in to help us prepare for eventually making it out to Algonquin Park in Canada.

For those of you that have done this paddle, do you have any suggestions? How are the portages, I have never carted before, but thinking about buying one? Which is the best map for this trip (The ADK Paddler or NFCT)?
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Old 03-13-2017, 03:05 PM   #2
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Why not start at Raquette Lake?

I like BML, but unless I'm missing something, you'll be backtracking to Raquette and heading up the normal route via Forked, Long, Raquette River and the trip from BML to Raquette is not all that interesting.
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Old 03-13-2017, 03:18 PM   #3
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I picked it up as a suggestion from the ADK Paddler Guide Book. I started by looking at the NFCT, but those first 3 portages of each a mile or more, did not look very fun to start with, especially with a full starting load. At least the other portages are split between longer paddles or even a night.

I picked (so far!) the alternative option from the book to start at Blue Mt Lake. I have never been to the lake, so that may also be a reason into choosing this. While we are there I would like to do the quick hike to castle rock. Your route of backtracking to Raquette Lake is the intended route. I also wanted to do a longer trip, approx 7-8 nights, so this alternative beginning will help keep the trip longer.
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Old 03-13-2017, 03:32 PM   #4
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I've paddled this section many times. Paddle BML 2 miles from the beach to all private shore Eagle Lake, then 1.6 miles on Eagle to Utowana Lake, 2.6 miles on Utowana to the half mile portage from the end of Utowana to the Marion River. The carry (portages in the adirondacks are generally known as "carries") here is easy and cart friendly if you have one. Then 4.1 miles down the Marion River to Raquette Lake. Try to avoid being on Raquette Lake in the afternoon, as it often gets quite windy and rough, especially on the north east end, where you are heading, 6.5 miles to the carry from the end of the Marion river where it enters RL. From RL to Forked Lake it is also an easy carry, mostly on a gravel road with access that begins on private property (access is permitted, don't litter). Half mile carry RL to Forked Lake. Be careful when approaching the landing on Forked Lake, as there are numerous boulders just under the surface ready to grab you as you reach the campground. You can get fresh water from the campground faucets, and use the outhouse there.

Then the carry to Long Lake is almost all on a road, gravel at first, then paved. It is a long 3.75 mile haul to the Deerland Leanto put-in. Do not be tempted to paddle short sections of the river, it is not worth the trouble to put in and then take out almost immediately due to rocks. Buttermilk Falls is worth seeing, but not by paddling to it. Just plan on a long carry (a cart is very useful here). At the end of the carry there is a very rough rocky trail down to the water; it can be tough to negotiate safely.

Paddle Long Lake with a potential stop at the bridge/beach (5 Miles) for supplies if needed at a nearby store, and a restroom at the beach.

It is 9 miles from the beach to the north end of Long Lake. Be careful of motorboat (and floatplane) wakes near the beach end, and potential high wind and rough water as you approach the north end. The entry to the river at the end of LL is quite shallow, watch the buoys and head further left than you might think. Watch for current flow to know where to go.

Another half mile on the river and there is a popular stopping place on the left shore where you can stretch your legs, but watch out for TP flowers. In another half mile you will approach the Cold River with a giant boulder in the middle of the river. Go to the right side of the boulder to stay in safe water.

5.4 miles from entering the river you will come to the Raquette Falls carry. You must carry here. The trail is obvious but very rough, especially for the first third, and not at all cart friendly. A cart is useless for the first 3/4 mile. You will have the most trouble here. Take your time and make multiple trips if you must, total 1.1 miles to the put-in. There is a leanto near the end, and a ranger's cabin where caretaker Gary would be happy to assist you.

It is easy paddlng for another 5.7 miles to Stony Creek. Turn right and paddle upstream against a mild current up a winding creek with pretty waving hair-like weeds on the bottom. Watch the flow of the weeds to determine the direction to go. Beware you do not take the wrong turn, missing a sharp left into the current and end up going into ampersand Creek instead, watch for the sign.

Turn left on the pond after passing the bridge under Corey's Road. There is a carry trail at the far north end of the pond (a sign will mislead you to go there), but I recommend not taking that rough woods carry trail. Continue heading left (west) in to the last pond, through a narrow and shallow passageway, then head left to where you can take out at a landing next to Corey's Road, 2.6 miles from leaving the river. Take the road (with a canoe cart) to Route 3. Turn right on the highway and walk a couple hundred yards north to the DEC Indian Carry sign (the road directly across from Corey's Road is labeled Indian Carry, but that is not the road you want). it is 1.3 road walk miles from the Stoney Creek landing to put-in at the dock on Upper Saranac lake.

Now paddling on Upper Saranac Lake, stay close to the eastern shore, watch out for motorboat wakes and windy conditions for 2.1 miles to Bartlett Carry.

Next into Bartlett Carry, use the DEC sign-in board. It is a mostly gravel road with a short section going through the woods to a muddy put-in into a 2 mile paddle directly east down the length of Middle Saranac Lake. Stay to the left of the island on the far end of MSL to enter the river current again.

in about 1.5 miles on the river you will come to the Upper Lock, which you can carry around, or have the lock tender guide you through, or you can operate the lock yourself, following posted directions.

Another mile puts you at the head of Lower Saranac Lake. Watch out for rocks in the river on the way, safest is to stay within the red/green buoys.

Be sure to take the correct right turn on LSL to head toward the Rt3 bridge, do not turn into a dead end bay too early. The sharp high rocky bluff on the left is the signal to turn right. 3.1 miles from the beginning of the lake you go under the bridge, then back into the river. Watch for rocks outside of the buoys.

2.3 miles from the bridge puts you at the Lower Lock, which you can carry around on river right over a fairly steep up and down hill. Or you can go through the lock as before. Now on Oseetah Lake, you will enter a field of submerged stumps, which you can carefully negotiate north past a small island if you do not want to follow the long way around where motorboats go in the buoys.

It is 4.3 miles from the Lower Lock to Lake Flower and the park at Saranac Lake village. The cedar tree is the official finish line for the 90 mile race.

Best maps IMO are always USGS topo maps, but either the ADK paddler's map or the NFCT would be helpful.
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Old 03-13-2017, 10:25 PM   #5
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That's all great info -- thanks...

Would a fall trip(and possibly lower water levels) change much regarding paddling and/or carries on this route ?

And at an average pace, about how long would this route take ?
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Old 03-13-2017, 10:49 PM   #6
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That's all great info -- thanks...

Would a fall trip(and possibly lower water levels) change much regarding paddling and/or carries on this route ?

Annd at an average pace, about how long would this route take ?
The total distance of your route is 61.4 miles +/-. Only you can answer how long it will take you to make mileage on that trip. A lot depends on weather and wind as well as your own paddling endurance ability and pace, plus the need for any rest stops. Carries will always take longer than you expect. My canoe team annually paddles the Cannonball-90 (the traditional 90 mile route from Old Forge to Saranac Lake all in one day) in about 19-20 hours at a brisk but not necessarily a racing pace.

I wouldn't expect much change in water levels in that particular route for a fall trip unless we have an unusually dry summer. The official 90-mile race is held in September and I don't ever notice much water level difference from the same route in June. Occasionally the Raquette River may run a little low below Long Lake, but nothing to be concerned about.
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Old 03-13-2017, 11:48 PM   #7
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Paul has the description spot on, and your trip will be an exceptional Adirondack experience, it doesn't get much better.

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Old 03-14-2017, 10:20 AM   #8
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Thanks for all this useful information WIldrns!

The 3.75 mile carry from Forked Lake to the Lean-to, I am assuming that also passes by the second set of rapids on the Raquette River after Buttermilk, is that correct?

One of the weeks we are looking at would be July 4th, but my assumptions are that most these bodies of waters will be full of motor boats. Looking to head out the weekend before the 4th and end up in the Saranacs around the end of the week. That would probably put us at Long Lake around July 4th. Is this a bad idea? Would most lean-tos be taken up at this time? I know 4th of July can be quite crazy in some regions, but some could also be empty. We did the 9 carries in St Regis Canoe Wilderness last July 4th and had Fish Pond to ourselves! I know we wont have lakes to ourselves, but will it be overcorwded?
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Old 03-14-2017, 11:12 AM   #9
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The 4th will be crowded, for sure. Motorboats on all the big lakes. The river between LL and Raquette Falls will be free of any big motorboats, likely only smaller fishing boats between the falls to stoney Creek. While padding a C6 voyageur one time, we got swamped and sunk on USL by a huge motorboat wake, Luckily we were close to a camp dock and swam easily to it to bail ourselves out. You take your chances with leanto availability, with no guarantees anywhere. Primitive camping on state land, obeying the 150 foot rule and LNT, is always an option as a last resort, but it can be difficult to find any spot large enough for a tent.

The Deerland landing leanto at the end of the carry from FL is the beginning of flat water on Long Lake, at the foot of the last segment of rapids. it is a very rock strewn trip to get your boat safely into the water, but there is really no other choice.
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Old 04-21-2017, 11:52 PM   #10
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Some friends and I are looking to kayak Long Lake to Follensby Clear Pond in early August. If we get to Long Lake dock by noon... how far could we realistically get before dusk... pending conditions aren't too bad (in which case we'd go directly to the Follensby area).
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Old 04-23-2017, 05:07 PM   #11
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Depending upon your initiative you should certainly be able to make it to the carry. It's about 9 miles from the beach to the foot of the lake...how fast do you paddle?
I usually plan to get from the end of Long lake to Upper in one day doing both carries...with a canoe, no wheels, doubling each carry.
I generally allow one easy day to get from the top of the Lake to the outlet, but I have also managed to get there from Raquette in one even longer day...
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Old 04-23-2017, 07:21 PM   #12
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I generally allow one easy day to get from the top of the Lake to the outlet, but I have also managed to get there from Raquette in one even longer day...
Try paddling the Cannonball-90 with several of us who have made it an annual (but very unofficial) event. Begin in Old Forge at the stroke of midnight, arrive at lake Flower Saranac Lake village at between 7-8 PM on the same day. A great time, including all the carries.
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:01 AM   #13
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Try paddling the Cannonball-90 with several of us who have made it an annual (but very unofficial) event. Begin in Old Forge at the stroke of midnight, arrive at lake Flower Saranac Lake village at between 7-8 PM on the same day. A great time, including all the carries.
I've done my share of racing and there was a time when I considered doing that one...but, somewhere along the way I realized that I paddle, cycle and ski for pleasure. Turning my hobbies into competitions changed the experience enough that I decided to stop racing canoes and also bikes... that's not to say that I/we don't push... I would race XC skis again if the opportunity presented though...there's nothing better than a fast track and the right wax on the right skis.
My last MTB race was a 50K in the Alps...my last canoe race was over 25 years ago in the Susquehanna.
I respect what you folks do but I'm not prepared to head down that road. I've experienced getting smoked by the Corbins and ain't lookin back.
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:38 AM   #14
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I've done my share of racing and there was a time when I considered doing that one...but, somewhere along the way I realized that I paddle, cycle and ski for pleasure.
Oh, those who paddle the Cannonball definitely do it for pleasure, not to race. Boats will each determine their own start time. I prefer to start at midnight with the reflection of as many stars visible on the water surface as there are in the sky is one of the most pleasurable paddlng cruises I have ever had. Arriving just in time for the early morning pre-dawn mist of negotiating Brown's Tract is not to be forgotten. We do not paddle nor do the carries at anything like race speed. Typically each boat travels independently, alone and we do not race against anyone else, other than the sun. No one is timing us and no one is vying for position to be first, second, or third. As such it is definitely not a race. Of course it is a good overall muscle toner for keeping in shape, racers or not.
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:26 PM   #15
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On a Thursday night in July, how busy should we expect to find the campsites along the Raquette River? If full, how is the terrain for 150ft rule camping? I have a hammock so I'm not too concerned... but my friends don't have them.
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