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Old 11-05-2021, 11:20 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2014
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Long Lake - July

I am looking to head out to Long Lake in July. While i have been paddling/camping the ADK's for 25 years, i have never camped on Long Lake. I will be going with a small group and prefer a lean to. We will be fishing quite alot while we are there. We like to try and be off the beaten path if we can. Anyone have a good reccommendation for a site?
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Old 11-05-2021, 11:58 AM   #2
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Join Date: May 2007
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I would not consider any of the camping options on Long Lake as being anywhere close to "off the beaten path." The same is also true of the lean-to and tent sites on the Raquette River downstream of the lake (albeit to a lesser extent).

Long Lake is super popular among the motor-boat camping crowd in particular. This is especially true of the lean-tos, all of which get high levels of use. And it sounds like you'll be paddling... I'd go prepared even for the chance that you may spend the better part of an hour paddling towards a lean-to site that is clearly open, only to be overtaken by a motorboat who then snags the lean-to right in front of you just as you've finally made it to the last bit of the approach.

The lake does have a number of designated tent sites also, but these can also be popular among the motorboat crowd. Not all of them receive heavy use, but the ones that do not can be kind of hard to find. I know someone from the DEC went through and put up new signage for all of the tent sites a few years ago to make the designated sites more apparent, but there's also been problems over the years with groups tearing down signage for the tent sites specifically.

Mid-week you might experience less motorboat competition for sites, but be aware that Long Lake to the Crusher on the Raquette River is an extremely popular paddling route for summer camps, scout troops, and the like. Many of the these groups get permits to have up to 12 people, so they often tend to really take over the lean-to sites to the exclusion of others. Sunday/Monday/Tuesday nights especially tend to see high levels of youth groups overnighting on Long Lake, as many of these groups get started on a thru-paddle to the Crusher early in the week.

If you really want a lean-to, I'd be prepared even to go as far as the 3 lean-tos on the Raquette/Cold River downstream of Long Lake. Most of the year, these lean-tos aren't accessible by motor boat (I don't believe motor boats are legally allowed to the Calkins Creek Lean-to in any case), so they tend to be a bit quieter. But getting to them is no easy task... nor is returning from them, which demands either paddling back upriver and then back across the full length of Long Lake, or committing to a thru-paddle downriver which means tackling the 1+ mile portage at Raquette Falls. (But also, FWIW, the Calkins Creek Lean-to needs a new roof... I would not be particularly enthusiastic about sleeping in it on any rainy night.)

There are a couple of designated tent sites on the far north end of the lake also that might be worth checking on. They are uphill behind the broad beach that is just west of the outlet of Long Lake. The beach is popular for day use swimming, but the tent sites get relatively little use by the motor boat camping ground as the water gets shallow so gradually that most motor boats can't pull up close to the shore before they've grounded themselves in the sand. The sites are pretty nice, set in beautiful stands of pines.

I will also add that due to the popularity of all of the campsites on the lake, it's worth picking up some locally-purchased firewood to bring with you in your canoe(s).
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Old 11-05-2021, 12:59 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mattf729 View Post
Anyone have a good reccommendation for a site?
The best site is one that you can find that isn't taken.
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Old 11-08-2021, 09:50 AM   #4
Join Date: May 2014
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Thanks DSettahr. We will be heading out mid-week(Wednesday) most likely to try and beat any crowds if possible. We will have a couple small powerboats this trip. Thanks for the tip on the firewood situation. If it is used a lot i would expect wood to be difficult to find.
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Old 11-08-2021, 12:06 PM   #5
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Wednesday is probably your best bet for maximizing site availability, so that's good. The vast majority of the summer camp groups should be downriver by Wednesday night, and it will be a bit too early in the week for most of the weekend crowd to have shown up yet. But I still wouldn't expect every site to be available... Long Lake is a popular spot for groups to get permits to camp for a full week, even.

And having motorboats will also make things a bit easier for you... Long Lake is pretty well named.

And also yes, definitely bring firewood. Many of the lean-to sites especially are very well picked over.

I pulled up my GPS info with all of what I've found on Long Lake through 2 or 3 previous paddle visits (and more NPT backpacking visits than I can recall). Here's some more specific info regarding the specific lean-to and camping options on the lake:

The Catlin Bay Lean-to that is right on the shore (on the peninsula that is also sometimes an island when the water is high) is pretty leaky, but is very nicely situated (especially for watching the sunset). Might be worth throwing a big tarp in the boat just in case. There's also a designated tent site just to the north of this lean-to, on the same peninsula/island. This site is small but nice.

The second Catlin Bay Lean-to is set back from the water, up in the woods near the Northville-Placid Trail and is kind of tricky to find. Honestly, this lean-to gets very little use by the motorboat crowd due to how far removed from the shore it is. It's a newer lean-to, and I'd guess that the DEC probably put it so far back so that NPT hikers had access to a lean-to that wasn't going to always be taken by folks coming in by boat.

There are also 4 additional designated tent sites circling the small bay (Catlin Bay itself) that is just north of (and behind) the peninsula/island that the first Catlin Bay Lean-to is on. These are pretty nice sites but they are in close proximity to each other.

Between Catlin Bay and Hidden Cove, there's two islands, each with a single designated tent site. One of these islands is in the mouth of Hidden Cove itself.

The Hidden Cove Lean-to is nice and is right on the water, but the cove itself is shallow and rocky. Larger motorboats have difficulty safely getting into this cove.

There's two designated tent sites on the peninsula that forms the southwest side of Landing Bay. One of these tent sites faces the open lake, the other tent site is on the opposite side of the peninsula, facing the bay. Both sites are nice, but they share a single box toilet that sits between them... which I'm sure has resulted in a few awkward encounters by different camping groups in the past.

The Kelly Point Lean-tos are both right on the water and are super nice. They are also pretty close to each other, so if you occupy one and another group occupies the other, don't expect much privacy. There's also some really nice rocky peninsulas to hang out on here.

There's 2 designated tent sites near Kelly Point- one is on a sandy beach maybe a tenth of a mile south of Kelly Point. The other is at Kelly Point it self, a big open clearing with tons of nice, flat ground maybe a hundred feet or so north of the lean-tos.

There is a designated tent site near the start of the old Kempshall Mountain Trail but from what I recall, it's kind of hard to locate. Finding the start of the old trail is a challenge in itself, and then looking for the tiny arrow marker on the tree from the water is no easy feat, either.

According to my GPS records there's two designated tent sites between the start of the old Kempshall Mountain Trail and Rodney Point, but my memory of these sites is pretty limited so I won't comment on their quality or how easy it is to find them.

Rodney Point has the two lean-tos. I believe these lean-tos have both been relocated so neither is right on the shore anymore- and they can be a bit tricky to find from the water. They aren't too far up in the woods, though, and both are in nice spots. There's no designated tent sites anywhere in the vicinity of Rodney Point, though, so overflow traffic must look elsewhere.

Between Rodney Point and Plumley Point, there is a long stretch of private property, so there's no camping options available.

Plumley Point has the two lean-tos. One of these is very nicely set atop a small knoll, set back a bit from the water but you can still catch glimpses of it from your boat as you are approaching. The other was relocated back from the shore a few years ago and is a bit harder to find- it's north of the first lean-to, set back in a very nice stand of evergreens.

Between the two Plumley Point Lean-tos there is a single designated tent site, in a grassy clearing by the water.

The Island House Lean-to to the north of Plumley's isn't too far from the water, but it is set in a nice stand of evergreens that shades the site and can make the lean-to a bit of a challenge to spot.

Across the lake from the Island House Lean-to on the west shore are the Riverdale Lean-tos. These are the first camping options on the west shore north of the boat launch, and both lean-tos are very nicely situated in open stands of pines... but the southern of these two lean-tos leaks pretty badly when it rains. (Again, not a bad idea to have a big tarp just in case.)

It's obvious that overflow tenting traffic occupies sites in the vicinity of the Riverdale Lean-tos, but there's no designated tent sites here and so the 150 foot rule should be adhered to. (I was chatting with the local ranger earlier this summer and she indicated that there had been some discussion about maybe adding a designated site or two here- there's definitely room for 1 or 2 sites in any case.)

And lastly, there's the two aforementioned sites on the very north end of the lake, on the beach just west of the outlet. Again, bigger boats have difficulty landing here so they get a bit less use than you'd expect them to otherwise. Both are uphill of the beach, set back a bit in very nice and open stands of pines.

One other comment: If you end up camping in any of the lean-tos that are accessible from the Northville-Placid Trail and have the ability to do so, be prepared to share with backpackers hiking that trail. This can be a challenging stretch of the NPT to find camping due to the popularity of all of the campsites along the shore of the lake.
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Old 11-08-2021, 12:28 PM   #6
Join Date: May 2014
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Great info!! I appreciate the detail. I will take a look at my map tonight and start working on my trip details.
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