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Raquette river

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  • Raquette river

    Hello All
    I am new to canoeing I have been to Lower Saranac a few times and Rollins ,Floodwood little square ,Copperas to Whey and back to rollins .Was thinking of doing Long Lake to the Crusher over Columbus weekend and camp a few days along the way .Would this trip acceptable for me. is the lake very windy is camping crowded this weekend

    Thanks James

  • #2
    Mr Bass,
    My business partner accompanied a group of scouts and dads on the very same route, on the very same weekend.
    They had tee shirt weather for half of the trip down Long Lake, then their tail wind switched directions and the weather turned not so nice. Wind, whitecaps, then rain followed by 3 inches of snow overnight.

    Prevailing winds usually blow down the lake, pushing you along...but not always.
    Long Lake has plenty of motor boat activity, some of those boaters camp at the various lean to's along the route, but that late in the season there would likely not be that many motor boaters.

    You didn't say if you're paddling solo or tandem or if you're in an efficient hull.
    Based on too many unknowns (changeable weather, possible lack of campsites, lack of experience) I would recommend more intimate and more protected waters.

    You would likely enjoy some time in the St Regis wilderness areas much more, or maybe some of the Whitney wilderness area (not Little Tupper). Clearly you are willing and able to carry, since your original intended route has a 1-1/2 mile carry.


    • #3
      Long Lake usually isn't too bad with wind, but every once in a while it can be tricky, especially if you're in a smaller canoe (solo canoes particularly). I've done this trip by solo canoe 3 times- and out of those three times, I've once encountered winds that were strong enough to cause to me set up camp earlier in the day than I'd originally planned.

      I've never been on Long Lake on Columbus Day Weekend. During summer holiday weekends though (such as Labor Day), the lake can be absolutely packed with motor boat traffic, and it can be very difficult to score a campsite (and getting a lean-to is practically impossible). And I also find that especially if the whether is nice, Columbus Day Weekend can be the busiest holiday weekend of the season- a lot of folks are eager to get out for one last camping trip of the year before hanging up their camping gear for the winter.

      But that late in the season there may also be fewer folks with their boats still on the water (or in condition to be launched for a weekend camping trip), so perhaps the camping pressure might not be as great.

      Once you hit the outlet of Long Lake you'll see far fewer people. Outside of the spring freshet, the water isn't deep enough to permit passage of motor boats (especially big ones) very far down the river. But there's also fewer camping options on the river in comparison to Long Lake. The Lost Channel and Deep Hole Lean-tos (both are right on the Raquette River) are in great shape. The Calkins Creek Lean-to (some distance up the Cold River) is in rough shape- you can stargaze through the roof.

      Don't underestimate the portage at Raquette Falls. It's not particularly rugged but it is long- just over a mile in length. If you don't put at least some thought into weight (of both your gear and your boat) you will regret it. It is mostly wheelable if you have a portage cart but there's a few spots where you'll still have to lift the boat to get over or around rocks. There is a single designated tent site at the start of the portage, and a lean-to and 4 designated tent sites at the end, near the ranger station (some of the tent sites near the ranger station are honestly I think some of the nicest tent sites in the entire High Peaks Wilderness).

      Downstream of Raquette Falls is a number of lean-tos (all fairly nice) and tent sites. Most of the tent sites are downstream of Axton Landing, between there and The Crusher. Most of the tent sites are at least OK, a few of them are small and don't have the easiest access from the river. Others (especially as you get closer to The Crusher) are quite large and with plenty of flat space for tenting, and are really nice overall.

      One other thing to keep in mind is that the Raquette River below the falls is a hunting hot spot, particularly for locals. Motorboat access up the river provides an easy approach (and exit) into what is otherwise a fairly wild and remote area. Columbus Day won't quite yet be the busiest part of the hunting season but the big game season will already have commenced. There will be permit hunting camps occupying at least a few of the nicer campsites along the river downstream of the falls, and there may also be weekend hunters occupying the lean-tos.


      • #4
        Thanks for replying. Great information I would be paddling a tandem Kevlar Northwind 17.Our paddling skills need improvement lol . I would pack light and have a tent. i don't really want to be in a hunting hotspot.

        Would Bogs River Lows ,Lake , Long Pond or Oswegatchie River to High Falls be a better


        • #5
          I wouldn't let the hunting season deter you, the only big game hunting open during that time is archery, or possibly crossbow.


          • #6
            Originally posted by forgedin78 View Post
            I wouldn't let the hunting season deter you, the only big game hunting open during that time is archery, or possibly crossbow.
            And.. hunters would be in the woods.


            • #7
              Bear season will also be open.

              I wouldn't worry too much about hunting activity while you're on or near the river, as they'll mostly be up in the woods to the east of the river if they are hunting and the pressure will probably be a bit lighter than weekends come later in the hunting season. Mainly I meant that there will be groups camped that weekend with an eye towards hunting, or towards scouting in preparation for the upcoming regular rifle deer season. And there probably also will be permit hunting camps occupying at least a couple of the nicer campsites on the river.

              Lows Lake will probably be somewhat busy, especially the sites closer to the outlet. You might try Grass Pond if you're willing to paddle all the way out there- my experience is that only a small fraction of the overnight use makes it from Lows proper into Grass Pond, and there's some nice campsites in there.

              Long Pond will also likely be somewhat busy. If you're willing to portage, once you get 1 or 2 portages deep into the St. Regis Canoe area, I find that the overnight use especially tends to drop off significantly.

              The lower Oswegatchie will likely be busy closer to the put in at Inlet. The first campsites you come to are decently large and obviously well-used. But the further up the Oswegatchie you go- and the more beaver dams you pull your boat over (there's a lot of them), the quieter the backcountry on the river gets. The one exception to this is any riverside campsites that are accessible via the Cranberry Lake 50 (the loop backpacking trail around Cranberry Lake). For many backpackers, the CL50 is an attractive long-weekend option, as some can do it in 3 days and many others can do it in 4 days (with the holiday necessitating only one vacation day necessary from work). Accordingly, I would expect to see some level of use of these campsites by backpackers over the course of the holiday weekend- including the lean-to and tent sites at High Falls.


              • #8
                Thanks for the replies . I I have a better idea of what to expect and will have options