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Portage from Lowes Lakes into Lila

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  • Portage from Lowes Lakes into Lila

    Thinking about starting at Bog river dam and paddling into Lowes. Wanted to see if anyone has experience with the portage from Lowes into Bog lake and then on to Lila. Is it a pretty straightforward carry, or is it difficult route? Im bringing someone who is new to carrying a canoe and dont want to overwhelm them. Looks like a fair amount of walking along the railroad tracks and then possible the creek north of Lila can be paddled. any input would be appreciated. thanks!

  • #2
    I did this route last summer from Lila to Lows as part of a longer, 50+ mile paddling trek from Little Tupper to the Oswegatchie.

    Working north to south, here is what I recall:
    • Apart from a beaver dam or two, there is no portaging necessary to get from Lows to Bog Lake. However, the connecting river is a lot narrower- and a lot more winding- than as shown on many maps.
    • The designated tent site on the south shore of Bog Lake is not the fire pit in the clearing right at the takeout for the portage to Clear Pond (and this honestly does not really look like the nicest spot to camp anyways). Rather, it's some distance to the west (maybe a tenth of a mile or so).
    • The portage between Bog Lake and Clear Pond is fairly straightforward- it's all on roads. The first tenth of a mile or so is a closed road, then the last stretch is on a maintained private road.
    • There is a nice designated tent site on the north shore of Clear Pond, not too far east of where you'll put in.
    • The portage between Clear Pond and Rainer/Harrington Brook isn't super hard to follow but it does take some attention to make sure you remain on the proper route up until the railroad tracks. It mostly seems to follow old logging roads/skid trails but there's a few turns that are easy to miss if you're daydreaming (or have a canoe over your head that blocks the view). The stretch on the railroad tracks is pretty straightforward, although walking on the ties can be annoying. And lastly, the put in on Rainer Brook is not easy- it's a steep scramble down a gravely bank to a deep and mucky stream.
    • I understand that in high water you can put in directly on Harrington Pond and save yourself maybe a tenth of a mile of portaging. I did not use this route, and I don't remember seeing an obvious path from the railroad tracks down the pond (I wasn't really looking for one while I portaged on by, though).
    • The portage between Harrington Brook and Lake Lila has one stretch that is a twisted ankle just waiting to happen- rocky/cobbly terrain hidden beneath a patch of knee-high grass. Even though this isn't a particularly long portage, it's a good one to take as many trips back and forth as needed to avoid a lower leg injury.
    Some of these portage trails could benefit from some added work, to stabilize the tread and add signage to make the routes more obvious. They aren't super challenging as far as portaging goes, but with a little bit of effort they could be made a bit easier. Honestly, they feel like afterthoughts more so than part of a planned paddle route- like perhaps someone in the DEC saw that folks were using the route and threw up a few portage trail markers, but no one ever really stepped up to provide regular trail maintenance.

    Notably, the Harrington Brook to Lila portage isn't even included in the DEC's official database of trails (and therefore is also missing from the "official" maps).

    With regards to having a new paddler- I don't think I'd avoid bringing a beginner on this route at all costs, but I would definitely make sure to front load them with the knowledge that it may not be the easiest route. And I'd also want to make sure they were in somewhat decent shape- an out of shape beginner paddler especially could really struggle with parts of this route.
    Last edited by DSettahr; 09-23-2021, 09:18 AM.


    • #3
      Wow, Everything I could have hoped for in a response. Thank you for that. I will review it with him and we'll decide.


      • #4
        Yes, the passsage from Lows (spelled "Lows" by the way, it is not a hardware store) is suprisingly different than you might expect from looking at the USGS topo map. More wild and enclosed including beaver dams as DS mentions. The roughest part is definitely the jagged boulder field to navigate at the southern end of Harrington.
        Last edited by Wldrns; 09-20-2021, 01:17 PM.
        "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


        • #5
          Agreed, the Harrington (or maybe Rainer) to Lila carry is a twisted ankle waiting to happen. It's nearly impossible to see where you're planting your feet, and the ground is a mix of boulders and very sure of your footing before committing your weight to the next step.

          But it is clearly marked, as you can plainly see in my photo of that carry below.