After being away on business travel for a good part of April 2017, I was looking forward to head back home to go on another practice trip for my upcoming Hudson to Ungava solo expedition. I looked online and in my guidebooks for a route where I could paddle and hike in order to practice my transitions between hiking and paddling mode with my packraft.
I picked the Saint Regis Canoe area after browsing through my Adirondack Paddler’s guidebook and learning about this secluded area that is reserved to paddlers, motor boats being forbidden on the lakes and ponds of the area. The area is approximately a 2.5 hours drive from Montreal and offers free access and campsites, an important decision factor when trying to chose my next adventure spot.
Wanting to get an early start on the first day, I camped at one of the many free campsites in the area along Floodwood Road the night before. It was not very busy since it was early in the season, but I expect that the area might see more visitors in the summer as these campsites are accessible by car and close to the water.
The Saint Regis Canoe area comprises many ponds and lakes that are linked with portage trails. Many routes are possible and can be easily identified on the hiking or paddling maps of the area. It is a very popular canoe area in the Adirondacks and the portage trails are well cleared and seem to see regular usage. I met many canoeists on my route, many of whom envied my light packraft set-up as some of them had to walk each portage two or three time to carry all their gear (and beer...).
I found that orientation was easy in the area and that portage trails were well marked on the shores. The area offers many secluded campsites next to the water, not accessible by car, that would make wonderful weekend getaway destinations. I bet these are popular during the summer weekends! My only issue with route finding has been on the portage from Little Clear pond to Upper Saranac Lake. I soon lost the portage markers and ended up walking on the road, looking for an access to Hatchery Brook.
My route was crossing the Saint-Regis Canoe area as well as other areas where motor boats are permitted. The conditions being quite windy and bumpy that day, I did not see a single motor boat on Upper Saranac lake, which is unusual. The waves were a bit scary for my tiny raft but I followed the shore and paddled hard and eventually made it to my destination. I camped on Green island, a beautiful free state campsite under pine trees that I would recommend visiting. I was the only one there so I had my private island for the night.
The next day I had less portages to do since I was mostly following Fish Creek to get back to Floodwood pond and my car. As I was done with my planned route by noon, I took the afternoon to explore Long and Pink ponds and set up camp early on a Long pond campsite. I took out my fly fishing rod for the first time and practiced casting it from my packraft, but I lost my fly after just a couple casts. I will have to practice my knots!
|Trip Summary||37 km paddling route with portages.|
|Duration||Three days. The route on the map has been completed in two days.|
|Logistics||Park at the public parking lot in front of St Regis Canoe Outfitters. There are many free public campsites along Floodwood road if you want to camp close the night before.|
|Maps||I use the National Geographic Adirondack Park (Saranac / Paul Smiths area) map along with the app Gaia Maps on my iphone. Portage trails were easy to find and follow. Adirondack Paddler's Map might be a better option!|