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spiffae 04-12-2021 02:43 PM

Floodwood Loop - slow trip planning?
Hey all -

I'm a semi-newbie canoe camper: My wife and I did the bog river/lows lake trip twice in 2012 and 2014 and loved it. THEN we decided to have some kids and canoe camping was suddenly out of reach for a bit :)

The girls are 2 and 5 now, and I think we're ready to get back into it. I've been doing some trip planning, but had a few questions:

We're planning on a late June trip, doing the floodwood loop starting from the St. Regis oupost: Floodwood > Fish Creek > Follesnby Clear > Hoel > Turtle > Slang > Long

It's a more challenging trip than bog river in the amount of lakes and portages, but we're giving ourselves 3 nights. I think even with pretty light paddling days, it should be doable. Anyone disagree?

Thinking about an itinerary - I could see two ways to do it: Either a big push on day 1 taking us to Follensby Clear, then take a rest day to explore the pond, then paddle to long pond, camp there, and then exit the next morning. OR Do three even days of paddling, maybe south Follensby Clear, then Turtle Pond, then to Long pond early to set up camp and do the Long Pond Mountain hike.

The constraints with two little kids are that portages are likely going to take longer than normal - more gear, little legs, etc. I also assume setting up and breaking down camp may also be slower than normal. Despite one additional day of breaking down and setting up, I'm leaning towards three easier days vs. two big days. But the thing is, I haven't paddled this loop yet, so I don't have a sense of the total distances.

What would you all recommend?

Extra credit question: Clearly we're not traveling with our old 2 person backpacking tent - we've been using an REI Kingdom 6 for car camping, but that's a big ol' tent - around 22 lbs dry. Is that a feasible canoe camping tent? Anyone canoed with something big like that?

Thanks for the help!

montcalm 04-12-2021 02:59 PM

Sounds good to me.

I wouldn’t sweat the details too much because you could bail at almost any point and the farthest you’re going to be is out in long pond and getting there to the road isn’t that far. 2 hours tops. So I’d just wing it and see how it goes. No reason to loop either. You could just hop around to ponds in the Saranac Wild Forest part. And the traverse from hoel to long should be fine for overnight.

The only longish carry is from polliwog to hoel, and it’s a nice easy walk, so if you do go that way and take your time it wont be unpleasant.

So many camping options you can probably laze around and get what you find later in the day or find one early and then diddle around that area for the rest of the day. There’s no wrong answer. I’d go on what the kids are up for and not plan to do too much unless they are motivated. There’s no huge advantage to racing around out there. Every pond has its own charms. Most of the carries in the Fish Creek vicinity are really short.

Msample 04-12-2021 06:12 PM

That time of year I think the biggest challenge may be finding a campsite if its a weekend - its a very busy area in summertime. You may be better off setting up a basecamp and taking day trips - the loop is often done as a day trip. You could set up camp on Long, then day trip one day over to Hoel, then the other day down Fish Creek into Follensby. This allows you to bring more gear but avoid portaging it other than from the car down to the water @ Long. It would also avoid the longish Polliwog to Hoel portage.

montcalm 04-12-2021 06:36 PM

Eh... I understand your concerns Msample - but if you are going to base camp in that area, just stay at Rollins pond campground. You can easily access all these ponds from there and the whole of Rollins/Floodwood loop can be done in a day right from the campground.

As far as it being busy. Yeah, it always is even during the week in the summer. Last year was probably worse, this year will likely be bad too... but I think one of the biggest issues is parking, and I wouldn't really want to move around too much. I do get what you're saying, but this could be done from the campground. Then maybe do an overnight, or two on the Hoel/Long traverse during a low use time of week.

Anyway, my point about being busy was actually for prime sites. Those tend to be occupied and held, but I've never had a problem picking between many sites every time I've done trips around there. Some were less primo and up and away from the water.

Also just another recommendation:

Buy some packaged firewood. A lot of those sites are stripped, especially the islands. If you want a fire, grab a bag or two (or leave a few in your car and circle round and pick them up during the day - this is what I do).

spiffae 04-12-2021 07:28 PM

Thanks for the insights! Luckily we'll be starting off on a Thursday morning, so at least the first night ought to be easy enough to find a good site. We're not picky so I'm guessing we'll manage. I'll keep it flexible.

Do the primitive campsites have fire pits? My recollection of the Low's lake sites is that they didn't and we used our stoves exclusively.

Given the crowds, do you think we could end up not finding a campsite in turtle/slang friday night or long saturday? We'd prefer to do the loop rather than basecamp/day trip

montcalm 04-12-2021 07:38 PM

Every site I've stayed on Lows/Bog River has had a fire pit. You don't need to use them. I would definitely say use the stove and skip the fires if you can but every site I've looked at in this area has one.

There are a number of sites on Hoel (that are quite nice) and some on Turtle that I've almost never seen used. I can almost guarantee that the two nice sites on Slang will be taken unless you happen to be paddling by as someone is leaving.

Long will probably be busy on a Saturday - but I've never seen it full. I'm sure it does at times - if it is, sail right through back to your car and go elsewhere.

spiffae 04-12-2021 07:53 PM

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We're not choosy - I just don't want to be in a situation where we're frantically paddling for a campsite and can't find one and suddenly you've got two families scrambling with rented canoes as the day ends.

I found Andy Arthur's maps that seem to show a lot of options, especially tucked into the west end of long

montcalm 04-12-2021 07:57 PM

Yeah - have a drop-dead time to find a site and stick to it. If you don't have one by then, plan on getting to the road and hiking to go get your car. This is an unlikely scenario.

That map isn't accurate anymore. A lot of sites have been closed and/or moved and that map is probably 20 years old. Just order the new version from St Regis Outfitters and you'll have no issues finding the sites.

spiffae 04-12-2021 08:36 PM

Good to know! I know he made them a few years ago, but likely it's just combining GIS layers and not actually based on local knowledge. We're renting our canoes from St. Regis so I'll snag the latest map from them. Again, many thanks.

montcalm 04-12-2021 08:51 PM

Excellent. Have fun and be safe.

The only reason I mention getting a map now is sometimes it's nice to read them prior. But it'll all be pretty easy to see and figure out when you're in a boat.

Andy might have updated his maps... I know the previous ones I had seen were out-of-date. SRCO maps get updated frequently and they are marked based on actual knowledge of the site's existence by people who frequent the area. Very few errors IME.

The only other thing you might want to consider if you don't have it is a good map cover. I fold my map to the area I'm at and keep it in the cover and out at all times so I can see where sites or portage trails might be. If you meander along the shore you'll be able to see most of them though.

spiffae 04-12-2021 08:54 PM

Map cover.... ah you must be referring to my zip loc freezer bag :D

montcalm 04-12-2021 09:39 PM

Ha - whatever works. I bought a really secure one because that map is like gold. Not like I would get lost out there, but it has a lot of useful information.

Just one other thing I thought of. You asked about tents. One big tent can work in some instances if you don't mind lugging it, but you'll be far more adaptable with two small tents. Some sites are huge, wide open areas. Others are pretty small and wooded with limited flat land. I would also expect a shift to small and wooded for the future.

spiffae 04-12-2021 10:01 PM

The footprint isn't that big, it's just tall with a lot of structure - we have 2x 2 person tents, the problem is with kids as little as ours, they pretty much need to be near us for now. Down the road I can't wait until we're two boats and two tents, but for now, the big barge full of people and gear it is.

spiffae 04-12-2021 10:10 PM

Since you seem to know the area really well - how well marked/navigable is the long pond mountain trail?

montcalm 04-12-2021 10:21 PM

I have no idea actually. Of all the times I've been there, I've wanted and planned to climb LPM but I've never done it.

It's pretty popular so I think it should not be bad.

bluequill 04-12-2021 10:26 PM

Stay at Rollins Campground for three nights. You can do the Fish/Follensby/ Polliwog/ Middle/ Floodwood loop in one day from the campground.

2nd day, Hoel to Long can be done in half a day (full day if you want to walk to Long Pond Mt). Arrange a shuttle with St Regis Outfitters (in advance) or do a self shuttle using a bike.

3rd day stay in camp and explore Rollins Pond. This is a nice destination on it's own.

It WILL be crowded and campsites hard to find, possibly made more difficult with the size of your tent. If it were me with two little ones in tow, I would want a guaranteed campsite.

spiffae 04-12-2021 11:07 PM

If there's no risk of disaster, is it really an adventure?

We'll be overnighting at Rollins the night before we set out because we're driving from downstate and want to start in the morning. Maybe I'll reserve a couple sites for the weekend in case we get shut out, but I would hate to block a site for convenience and prevent someone else from camping.

The tent isn't really that big - from the primitive sites I've been on in the adirondacks, I think it should be ok.

rickhart 04-13-2021 01:10 AM

The one thing no one has mentioned, if you're fairly new, is that Hoel can get surprisingly rough for a medium sized pond, if it's windy. My first loop was similar to yours, and that happened. I crept around the east end of the pond, instead of straight across, but I managed. Last time I was there, with 10 years more experience, the waves were bigger than that first time and I just went straight across the pond....
But as others said, you have all kinds of options.

St.Regis 04-13-2021 06:59 AM

Long Pond can also kick it up. I think bluequill gave you sage advice considering you've never been there and are bringing the little ones

DSettahr 04-13-2021 07:06 AM

Honestly... all things considered, especially the kid factor, it seems like your plans might be a bit ambitious. The combination of portaging (with a family's worth of less than lightweight gear), potentially pushing for longer days, competing with other groups for campsite options, having a larger tent that may limit your campsite selection some, etc., all does not really lend itself well to an enjoyable trip with younger group members (especially a 2 year old).

And what if the weather doesn't cooperate? I wouldn't expect that the 2 and 5 year old are going to be all giggles and grins after several hours sitting in cold, pouring rain.

There's nothing wrong with having the desire for a trip like this as a family but with the kids especially, I think you'd be wise to work up to it through trips of intermediate difficulty (combined with a few more years of growth and development on the kid's part). I'll ditto the recommendations to consider other options- the Rollins Pond campground suggestion is a good one. That campground is very family friendly (and much less rambunctious of an atmosphere than the nearby Fish Creek campground), and you've got a ton of paddling in the vicinity. Plus you could take a day trip to the Wild Center in Tupper Lake to entertain the kids, and Saranac Lake and even Lake Placid aren't that far either.

If you're determined to stick to a backcountry trip, then my suggestion would be to make it a base camp trip- set up camp in one spot and stay there for the duration. Get in as early as possible on a Thursday so that you have a decent selection of sites still available for the weekend, snag one that works for you, and just do day trips from there. (If you do decide to expand the length of your trip beyond 3 nights, remember that a permit is needed to stay in any backcountry site for 4 or more consecutive nights. Permits are free and can be obtained from the DEC in advance of your trip.)

The firewood mention is a good idea- but if you do this make sure that you understand the firewood regulations. If you get firewood from a gas station, make sure it is treated. The label on the bag will indicate if it is treated (kiln-dried or similar); make sure you keep the label as proof in case a ranger happens to come by your campsite and asks.

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