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St. Regis Canoe Area, Covid, & out-of-state users

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  • St. Regis Canoe Area, Covid, & out-of-state users

    I've been planning my first trip to the Adirondacks, to canoe, fish for brook trout, and to experience some backcountry solitude. (I will be paddling solo.) The St. Regis Canoe Area seems to fit the bill. My tentative plan is to start right after Labor Day, and spend five days, paddling to the Fish Pond area, probably starting from the Long Pond Access.

    Since I have never been to the Adirondack area, I would welcome any general advice about my planned itinerary. (Such as, Hoel access vs Long Pond? Any advice on places to visit or avoid, etc.)

    I have a couple of specific concerns related to the current Covid situation:

    1. Will the increased number of users affect my ability to find tent sites, and experience solitude?

    2. I would be traveling from Michigan, with a Michigan license plate on my car. I'm a little worried about hostility to out-of-state users, given the Covid travel advisory, and the general advice to recreate close to home. Michigan is not on the restricted state list; and since I would staying alone in the wilderness, I do not worry that my plans are objectively unreasonable. But I do want to be sensitive to local attitudes. I could postpone my trip for a year, and take a trip to Michigan's upper peninsula this year instead.

    Thanks for any suggestions.

  • #2
    1 - Usually not very busy that weekend or after.

    2 - if you aren't coming in contact with anyone, then it's not a concern. Just wear a mask when you get gas, etc...


    • #3

      I appreciate your input. Normally I figure after Labor Day the crowds get smaller. It's just that I've heard that this year is different with all the cooped-up people rushing to get out.

      I have also heard that travel-shaming is a thing now, with people frowning on those who travel. I don't want to have my Michigan-plated car getting keyed in the parking lot.


      • #4
        The usage patterns this year have definitely not followed established trends. Mid-week levels of use in some areas are seeing what would've been weekend levels of use in previous years. Weekends in many areas are a level of crazyness unlike anything ever seen before. Many areas are seeing weekend use levels that go well beyond the carrying capacity of those areas (more users/groups than the designated tent sites can generally accommodate). The Moose River Plains filled to capacity one weekend earlier this summer (every single site was occupied)... something that has never, ever happened before (and was not expected to ever likely happen any time in the near future).

        I would agree with Montcalm that the week immediately following Labor Day is usually pretty quiet- in fact, usually the quietest period between July 4th and Columbus Day. But this year... who knows? A lot of people are out of work, and with limited options to otherwise spend their time, a lot of folks are turning to backcountry recreation. Backcountry areas across the rest of the US are also either closed or have added restrictions for use, so a lot of folks are turning to the ADKs specifically because there are no restrictions. All of this is serving to drive the use levels way up this year, even during "traditionally quiet" periods of the season.

        On the flip side of the coin, the initial added unemployment benefits have ended, so that might temper some folks enthusiasm for taking trips from home (although I think that there is a new benefit that is scheduled to start or maybe has already started?). Schools (both grade school and college) have also started up again. Both of these factors I think are starting to make at least a small dent in the use levels- there has been what feels like the ever-so-slightest decrease in backcountry use levels just within the past 2 weeks or so- which is weird, because usually late August is noticeably more crowded in the backcountry than July. Don't get me wrong, though, it's still super crazy.

        So yeah, it's really difficult to predict with any confidence what to expect. I'd imagine that it will probably be somewhat to moderately quiet, but not anywhere nearly as quiet as in a typical year for mid-week use immediately following Labor Day.

        As far as travel shaming, it's not really the thing it was a few months ago. The one thing that I would ask is that you keep a mask handy for if and when it's needed... a lot of folks are entering the backcountry without masks at the ready (or even at all) and it's a noticeable problem that people aren't masking up when passing each other on narrow trails. (Which is frustrating because it seems like NY is really good about the mask wearing overall, at least here in the ADKs.)


        • #5
          Yeah, I'm just going from past experience. I've almost never had an issue with crowds even on Labor Day weekend, and even in very popular areas. This year may be different, but typically after Labor Day it's dead. People are focusing on getting the kids back in school.

          Doubt anyone will key your car, but I'd just follow the current regulations regarding COVID and use your best sense. There's plenty of out-of-staters in NY right now. Really not much of an issue in rural areas, that I can see.


          • #6
            Thanks DSettahr and montcalm.

            I have been paddling in Michigan's U.P. the past few years, and have been planing a road trip this year to the Adirondacks for a new experience. Michigan has not seen the explosion in wilderness users that New York has, it seems. I went to the Sylvania Wilderness in late June / early July and had a lake to myself.

            I have the weekend to decide whether to postpone my New York trip for a year. In any event I'm getting my gear and supplies ready for either the U.P. or New York. (Actually, my first idea for an out-of-state paddling trip this year was Canada, but that's not an option; and from what I hear, the Canadians are very hostile to cars with American plates.)


            • #7
              if you haven't already you might want to review the NYSDEC website for tips, regulations, rules, and guidelines. Especially the camping, primitive camping, paddling, campground, and land use pages. Pretty much all LNT based, but the 150 foot rule for primitive backcountry off trail camping is the biggie.





              "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman


              • #8
                Thanks Wldrns for the links. I will be checking them out.


                • #9
                  I was up in the SRCA last week. I went in from Long Pond. There were four cars in the lot when I arrived and two of those parties left as I was unloading, so there were plenty of sites available. There were also a lot of open (free) campsites on Floodwood Road. Of course, that was before Labor Day weekend. Since you are going after Labor Day weekend, I would think it would be much the same. They were grading Floodwood Road as I was leaving, so the road will be in good shape. Like was said, wear a mask if you are going to get within 6 feet of other people (which you shouldn't have to do). Take your own pen with you when you sign in/out of the register and use hand sanitizer afterwards. Same goes after using a privy or thunderbox. The first night I made camp at site #11, which is the one closest to carry to Bessie Pond and other back ponds (beware of the chipmunks at the site, they get into everything). The carry up to Bessie was in good shape and the site at Bessie is one of my favorites. The worst part of the carry is between Bessie and Nellie and the put-in at Nellie is a pain (I actually had to crawl out on a log and roll into my Hornbeck). The other landings were fine. I found quiet solitude up there and you should too. Enjoy it. Here are some photos from my trip.
                  "Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go canoeing."
                  - Henry David Thoreau


                  • #10

                    Thanks for the up-to-date info! And your photos. Your report has eased my concern about Covid crowding; I will go to SRCA next week. I will bring my face mask and take the precautions you advise. And I'll expect a difficult put-in at Nellie.


                    • #11
                      TB: it has been a few years since I have been in there, but the last time I was, there was a beaver created pond on the trail to Bessie. I actually had to put my hornbeck in and paddle across it to reach the continuation of the trail on the other side. I suspect that a bypass route trail has since been created.
                      "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman


                      • #12
                        Hi Wldrns. That beaver flow is still there, requiring the paddle across it to get the carry on the other side. I had a chuckle about the arrows pointing the way. I think I had a photo of my Hornbeck at the put-in on the far side of it. It is a pretty spot and I took some photos there on the return trip. If I am not mistaken, there were dome tamaracks there, which will look great when they turn color in the fall.
                        "Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go canoeing."
                        - Henry David Thoreau


                        • #13
                          "The Moose River Plains filled to capacity one weekend earlier this summer (every single site was occupied)... something that has never, ever happened before (and was not expected to ever likely happen any time in the near future). "

                          I beg to differ. My wife and I camped in the MRP on Labor Day weekend about 30+ years ago, and Lillian came by late Saturday and told us they closed the gates mid afternoon as the area was at capacity, and this was when the road was still open to Indian Lake, and no ADA campsites had been declared. Of course, DEC is not known for great historical recordkeeping (at least in my Region), so there is likely no one associated with the MRP now that remembers that far back.


                          • #14
                            It's definitely possible that's it happened before. 30+ years would be well outside the realm of my memory, in case. My post was mostly meant at hyperbole to emphasize that the use levels this summer are unusually high just about everywhere but I concede that my anecdotal and first hand knowledge of use levels only goes back so far.