Accessing Middle Saranac Lake Through South Creek

How do you access Middle Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York? One way is by the boat launch at South Creek. This boat launch is on Route 3 about halfway in between the towns of Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake. There are multiple options on where to paddle from this launch so it is a launch that may interest you.

This sign kind of confused me. There are camping spots accessible by boat along the shore and islands of the lake. I am guessing one would have to park in the parking lot northeast from this one that does not have a boat launch according to the map. Usually these campsites are open to first come first serve for three days. Websites say you have to reserve the campsites. I did not see anyone at the campsites I passed.
Boat launch

It was kind of a rough carry from my car in the parking lot to the launch. The gates were locked and to squeeze the kayak through the rocks along the side was no easy task. I use a kayak wheeled device to move my kayak to launch sites. Where you walk to carry when I went was rough with gulleys. The boat launch itself as you can see has a gradual descent that is great for kayakers while also providing a dock that individuals who canoe may like.

View in the opposite direction from the lake.

The view above is going in the opposite direction from the lake. The view on the bottom is going towards the lake. It looks like a long paddle to reach Middle Saranac Lake on the map, but it is really not that long.

Campsites

They provide a picnic table and fire pit, campfire area at these campsites.

This was the campsite on Shaw Island. As you can see these are primitive sites that are carry-in and carry-out. They are accessible by canoe or kayak.

This campsite had two outhouses.

Going towards the Bartlett Canoe Carry

Entering a narrow body of water on the western part of the lake.

On the southwestern side of the lake you enter a narrow body of water that goes in the direction of Upper Saranac Lake. This is one option for accessing other bodies of water. Another option is to paddle north from South Creeek and go through Hungry Bay and into Weller Pond. Another option is to go east to the Saranac River through the upper locks into the southern end of Lower Saranac Lake.

This sign marks the start of the Bartlett Canoe Carry.

The canoe carry was a gradual descent into the water, ideal for kayakers. You follow the path over land to Upper Saranac Lake. It looks far on the map for one person, so I did not attempt it even with a kayak carry device. I encountered a women’s kayak tour on another lake and the guide said the Canoe Carry on the Upper Saranac side is a good launch for kayakers. I will take her word for it.

Wildlife

Black duck and her young on a rock. They were in the same area as the eagle.

I always enjoy lakes where you can view wildlife. This one was no exception. I saw two groups of black ducks, although I was nervous for them. An eagle was on a tree very close by eyeing them. Eagles in the Adirondack Mountains travel from lake to lake. They do not always stay on one body of water all day long. I arrived in the morning on this lake and a saw some fishermen on kayak and motorboat. One man I talked to said he arrived at 5 a.m. He was pleased with the bass he caught.

I did see one adult eagle along the trip.

Heading East to the Boat Launch

Heading east on Middle Saranac
Some people heading out on the lake.
Heading into South Creek back towards the boat launch.
The Route 3 Bridge over South Creek.

The boat launch is on the other side of Route 3. You kayak under the bridge and the launch is on the left when you are coming back in.

Despite it being a little rough to get into the parking lot from the launch and into the water from the parking lot I would like to come to this access point again. I do hope they make improvements on it though as it could be a hazard. I recommend they remove a rock or two on the side to make is easier to bring your kayak to the water and fill in the gulleys made by erosion. Middle Saranac Lake is another beautiful Adirondack lake.

Owlet is Catching Prey

The ongoing saga has been will the barred owlet catch prey on its own. I have witnessed it catching bugs on its own, but nothing else yet. I guess he has to start somewhere.

After the owlet caught a bug on its own, the parent came by and gave it another bug. I am wondering if these are cicadas?

After I saw the owlet catch a bug on his own, one of the parent owls came by and briefly dropped off another bug. The owlet is still making loud screeching sounds though, which will not help him trying to catch other prey such as chipmunks.

These pictures were right before sunset in the dark forest. They have a lot of noise in the photos.

Hopefully the owlet will be able to learn to not give itself away and catch prey that will keep him satisfied. Is that a cicada or beetle he is eating?

Accessing Lower Saranac Lake Through Ampersand

What is another place to launch a canoe or kayak that is close to the village of Saranac Lake? Ampersand Bay of Lower Saranac Lake is a short drive from Saranac Lake.

Sign on Edgewood

There are two ways to get to this launch. One way to get there you travel south of the village on route 3. Then you would turn onto Edgewood. Follow the signs from where this road meets Ampersand. You turn left from this direction. Another way to get to this launch is to go south on Ampersand Avenue then follow the signs.

Adirondack Canoe Route

This location is the starting point of the Adirondack Canoe Wilderness Route. Many of the lakes or ponds on this map connect by water routes such as creeks , the lakes running together, or through portages or canoe carries between them.

This sign is in the parking lot.
This map is facing the wrong direction. Saranac Lake Village is northeast of Ampersand Bay. The you are here on the map points to the Ampersand Bay boat launch.

Boat Launch

This is the boat launch. It has several parking spots. It is only for cars putting in canoes or kayaks.

The Department of Environmental Conservation website says this boat launch parking lot has places for 12 cars. The launch was not crowded when I went. This is not a launch for motor boats, so that makes it less busy. I believe there was only one other car when I arrived. Nearby on the bay is a launch/marina for powerboats. I like this launch. It has a gradual descent into the lake and is great for kayakers.


Ampersand Bay

Heading in to the main part of Lower Saranac Lake

This part of Lower Saranac Lake has some houses and docks along it. It also has what appears to be condos near the marina.

Lower Saranac Lake

I am not sure if that is Ampersand Mountain in the background. Someone knowledgeable about the area may be able to fill us in.
It was very windy on this day so I travelled along the shoreline.What you are seeing is an island and the shoreline. This lake is quite large.

Lower Saranac Lake has many campsites along the shore or on islands in the lake. The campsites are free. They are primitive sites with cleared areas for tents, outhouses, and a campfire area/fire-pit.

Wildlife

Kingfisher

Seeing wildlife is always a bonus for me. I got several great pictures of a kingfisher. I think there may have been a nest nearby. Both parents were keeping a close watch on me as I travelled near the shoreline. They were like guard dogs.

I would highly recommend this boat launch. It is great if you would like a short drive from your accommodations in Saranac Lake. Most state boat launches and other ones in the Adirondacks are fine. Enjoy the scenery and enjoy the wildlife!

Chincoteague Island Pony Swim

What is one event in the summer that involves watching wild horses? If you are in the Assateague Island, Maryland or the Chincoteague Island, Virginia area in July it would be one of the pony swims. This year I was lucky enough to see it, even if it was from a great distance.

If you get there early enough you can park at the parking lot across from the Carnival Grounds. Otherwise you can park at the Chincoteague Municipal Center. There are shuttle buses that take you from the Municipal Center and stop at points south along the way to Memorial Park where viewing is free.

Leaving Assateague Island

Salt Water Cowboys leading the wild horses into the water from Assateague Island.

To say this was far away from where I was standing is an understatement. I had a zoom lens with 1.4 added on and these are heavily cropped. The pictures above and below this paragraph are the first leg of the swim. It is a short swim.

I brought my kayak, but did not get there early enough to find out where I could park and put into the water. No public access was marked for kayaks on the maps I was given.

2nd Leg of the Journey

Horses swimming the second leg of the swim ending on Chincoteague Island near Pony Swim Lane. As you can see booking a seat on a tour boat gives you the best view.

Obviously the best view in the house is from a boat. There are some charter boats that I understand you need to book well in advance. Private docks that were far away with a better view than Memorial Park required $200 fee and you had to sign up well in advance.

Resting on Chincoteague

The horses rested here for an hour or more.

After they make the swim they rest and cool down on marshland on Chincoteague Island next to Pony Swim Lane. There are places around where they corral them that you can view them up close before they move on.

Evidently this dock or pier you needed permission or you had to pay a fee to get on. I asked if I could, they said no. Some of these things I understand need to be booked long in advance.
Salt water cowboys kept the herd from getting too close to the fence.

Pony Parade

The police led the parade followed by evidently the governor of Virginia. I had no idea who he was until I asked two people standing next to me. I live in another state.

The parade started as they herd the horses down Pony Swim Lane. From there they turn onto Ridge Road going South then Beebe Road heading west. Then they make a turn north onto Main Street. After that they herd them to the Carnival Grounds north of Bunting Road. This was the parade route this year.

Some of the salt water cowboys in the lead.

These are wild horses. Do not get close. They will bite. A few times I saw horses try to make a run for it going off the road into people’s yards. The cowboys directed them back onto the road.

Local support

Carnival Grounds/ Auction Location

One of the young horses for sale.

The horses are brought to the Carnival Grounds. The day after the parade they were auctioned off. Horses that were not bought swim back Friday after the Pony Swim and auction.

The fire department sells food and tee shirts at the fairgrounds. I did not see any rides operating. It may have been due to Covid.

Movie

The movie theatre plays Misty.

There is a movie theatre north of the Carnival Grounds that plays Misty for free on some days the week of the Pony Swim. Misty of Chincoteague was a book written by Marguerite Henry. She also wrote other books about the horses. A film adaptation of the book was made in the 1960s. It was about a real horse bought from the local auction. At the movie premiere they put the horse footprints in front of the theatre. There is also a statue of Misty on Main Street south of the theatre on the west side of the street. I was told the production used many local people in the movie outside the main characters.

I recommend this event for most people. If you have children or grandchildren you could read the book by Marguerite Henry before you visit and see the movie while you are there. If you love animals this would be a chance for you to see many wild horses up close during the parade and auction. This long standing tradition is a bucket list type trip that many would enjoy. As with any event look online to see when it occurs next year and plan well in advance.

Last Owlet Standing

The last man standing is the last person to be left doing something. It appears the other two owlets are hunting on their own. You only hear this owlet screech and boy does it screech loud. The owlets seem to make that noise when they are hungry. Many times I see the parents come by after they have screeched for a time period with food. It is still relying on the parents to feed it, so it’s the last one relying on the parents a lot for food. The parents are still bringing by insects and small animals to feed it. I have been worrying it seems to be taking this one longer than the others to hunt.

The most detailed picture I think I have gotten yet. If you look above the ph in photography on the owl you will see a bug hitching a ride.
It was looking around a lot, which looks like it is interested in catching something. These owls are usually in darker areas of the woods.

It is flying tree to tree, so that is a good sign. What do you think? Is it a late bloomer that needs more time or could it have an issue?

Accessing Lower Saranac Lake Through the 2nd Pond Launch

What is one place you can access Lower Saranac Lake? Which boat launch gives you options and access to several bodies of water? It is the 2nd Pond Boat Launch. It is more than three miles south west of the village of Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

Boat Launch

This boat launch is a busy spot. It has one of the largest parking areas I have come across in the Adirondacks with spaces for 75 cars and trailers. It also has port-a-potties. During the summer months people are employed to check boats for invasive species when entering and leaving the water.

The state boat launch at First and Second Ponds

The boat launch is on 2nd pond. When you go west you will go under the bridge on Route 3. From there you are on 1st pond.

First Pond
On Second Pond going towards First Pond.
Wildlife

Seeing wildlife is always a bonus for me. The route I took going from the 2nd Pond Launch through First Pond and into Lower Saranac Lake had a variety of wildlife to see. The ducks stayed near shore weaving in and out of plants. They are probably in survival mode due to the eagle’s presence.

A wood duck and its young. I had a hard time getting pictures of this duck as it stayed mostly in the grasses. Eagles are very active around the ponds and the lake.
Merganser Ducks
One of the eagles I saw. Two adults were on this tree. As most eagles do in this area I witnessed it going between Lower Saranac Lake and the ponds. Other lakes are nearby, so I’m sure it travels to them as well.
Lower Saranac Lake

I stayed close to shore paddling the route I took. Motorboats were frequently passing in either direction. There are numerous campsites on the islands and shore around Lower Saranac Lake. The spots are free and you can find them on Adirondack Paddler’s Map North. I also saw a few large groups of canoeists and kayakers. Both groups appeared to be camping at one of these free campsites.

I believe this was heading into Lower Saranac Lake
Lower Saranac Lake

Overall this is a location I would love to return to. I love the scenery, the multiple lake access from this launch and the chance to see a variety of wildlife. Even though it is a busy boat launch there are positive points to more people present. I would recommend staying close to the shore to avoid motor boat traffic.Get out and enjoy the Adirondack scenery and get some exercise while you do!

Merganser Ducks

On the way up to Canada to visit some relatives and on the return as well I spent a few days in the Adirondack Mountains kayaking on different lakes and ponds. One one body of water I was lucky enough to witness several types of wildlife. One bird I saw was the merganser duck.

All of these shots were in shaded areas next to shore.

The only place I have seen a merganser is on lakes in the Adirondack Mountains. One this day I saw more than one female with a trail of young. This is the one I saw in early evening. It had quite the crew with it. I never counted. but I am sure there were at least a dozen young. The other female I saw in the morning had a much smaller group following with her. I did see both groups in the morning.

Eagles were nearby.

All the ducks I saw that day stayed mostly on the shoreline in well shaded areas. Since there were eagles visiting and known to fly in and out I am sure that was for survival purposes.

I cannot tell if this was a yawn or if the duckling was making a sound.

For those of you who have never been to the Adirondack Mountains, I highly recommend it. It was mostly in the low 70s during the day and 50s at night. If you ever go, go slow and enjoy the local wildlife.

Great Blue Heron

Is this a baby? I had heard one baby was out of the nest. What do you think? The story is these herons fight a lot. One may have fallen out. If this is a baby it is doing better than its siblings still in the nest. Sink of swim it is feeding itself it appears. I did not see the parents drop anything off for this one. I visited this one by kayak.

It was at the water’s edge at low tide.
It appeared to be about the same size as the ones in the nest. It did not fly, but stayed in the mud flats area at the water’s edge. It seemed unfazed by me.
This may be the same one later on in the day. It stayed on a pile of wood at the water’s edge. It did not fly and spent most of the time preening.

What is your verdict? Youngster? Or not?

Daytime Owlet

I had Monday off for a new bank holiday. What do I do on a holiday? If I have time I hike and see if I can spot owls or their owlets.

Owlet on a lower branch. None of my owl pictures are in the raw. I don’t know how to open these new Canon generated raw files.

Luckily I found two of the three owlets on lower branches. They planted themselves on this tree for a few hours. I got a lot of nice pictures out of it. One seems to stay well hidden now. I look at him as the designated driver. Instead of not drinking to stay safe and keeping everyone else safe he stays well hidden to stay safe. Or am I wrong about this and the third one is more shy?

Buck With Velvety Antlers

Bucks are rare to come across on a hike in New York. It is rare to even see them when driving. You normally will see does and fawns. I am excited I got the chance two times to see this guy from a distance on hikes before sunset.

It appears he has an outer velvety coating on his antlers. They almost look glued on or fake. I wonder if this is a teenager or full grown adult. Anyone have any idea? I have seen it with one other deer, a female both times. If you are in the U. S. enjoy your bank holiday tomorrow (Juneteenth) if you have off.

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