Want another lake to paddle just outside the village of Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York? Lake Colby may fit the bill. Lake Colby is on Route 86 just north of the village of Saranac Lake and across the street from the Adirondack Medical Center. It has a swimming beach with a large parking lot at the south end of route 86 and a boat ramp with parking on the north end of Route 86.
This was the second lake I hit in the same day on a short weekend trip in October. The weather did not cooperate most of the time. It was mostly overcast and dark during this day with short periods with brief views of blue skies.
Although it has been said there are loons and eagles here I did not see any. Eagles seem to travel between bodies of water in the Adirondacks. I did see multiple great blue herons and Canadian Geese.
It seemed like there were only a few houses or camps along this lake. I saw no camping signs, however, other websites say there are two on the lake. These campsites are usually first come first served.
This is another lake I highly recommend. It had nice scenery, it is close to the village of Saranac Lake, and has wildlife to see. Viewing wildlife is always a plus for me. I did not take pictures on the opposite side. It had an old railroad tracks that people were fishing from.
You can not always pick your weather. Sometimes I really wish I could. I went up to the Adirondack Mountains on a three day weekend in October. The day I went to this pond it was dreary in the morning. I will kayak even if it is raining.
How to Access
Little Clear Pond can be accessed off State Route 30 on the Adirondack Fishery Road. The sign above is on the Adirondack Fish Hatchery Road.
The road leading to it is dirt/ gravel. It breaks off at one point. If I remember correctly it also crosses a road that is used for a snowmobile route. It was very muddy there with the rain.
Little Clear was the only one marked on the map with a boat ramp. It appears it is a canoe carry to Little Green Pond. I may have to check that out in the future, but canoe carries I found usually mean a dock. As a kayaker I prefer a boat ramp. I could be wrong though.
It is near the fishery. The fishery uses this pond so fishing is not allowed.
‘This appeared to be a young loon. It was hanging around waiting for its mother to feed it. The parent appeared to be handing fish off to it underwater. Not too long before they fly south. I hope this young loon has learned to fish on its own so it can follow its parent south. I also saw Merganser ducks here, but they kept quite a distance.
Dos and Don’ts
There are several things not allowed because the Adirondack Fish Hatchery uses this pond. Fishing is not allowed. According to an article written by Spencer Morrissey in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise this pond is used as a breeding ground for landlocked salmon. So loons and eagles are known to be seen here. Camping is not allowed along this pond either for the same reason and motor boats are banned. Canoes and kayaks are welcome.
I highly recommend this pond. They do have a larger parking area than most ponds. I saw one other boat that morning and another came before I left. So it is a quiet place, nice to take a small group. Seeing loons is a bonus as well as having a chance of seeing eagles.
Even in less than ideal conditions go out and enjoy nature. Stay safe and stay healthy!
Saranac Lake has several lakes nearby. One you can see from the town itself is Lake Flower. Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn is a vintage hotel right on Lake Flower with updated rooms. They loan out to guests kayaks, canoes, and bikes. You can launch a kayak or canoe right from the hotel grounds. They are close to a marina, ice cream shop, and a short walk to shops. They have lovely views on Lake Flower from some of the rooms and from their grounds..
If you missed going up to the Adirondacks during peak leaf season this year, you should consider going next year. It is one of the prettiest areas of the state in autumn.
Shhhhh! Want to know a secret? There is a pond that only locals seem to know about. It is north of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake but between them. It has loons and free primitive campsites. It also has a couple of beaches. I highly recommend visiting Moose Pond.
Moose Pond is north east of Saranac Lake and northwest of Lake Placid in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. It borders forest preserve and the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness area. If you go on State Route 3 from Saranac Lake, NY you turn onto River Road in Bloomingdale.
From River Road you turn right onto Moose Pond Road. This sign is on River Road at the intersection of Moose Pond Road. You travel down Moose Pond Road a ways. It turns from a paved road into a dirt/stone road. It ends at the parking lot for Moose Pond. Near the parking lot are bathrooms. I did not check them out, so they may be outhouse style.
I did look to see if Grass Pond Outlet was able to be paddled from Moose Pond. Trees were down near the entrance to the outlet on Moose Pond, so it was a no go. Grass Pond Outlet leads from Grass Pond to Moose Pond.
Locals were swimming at the boat launch beach and some recommended paddling to this beach for a swim.
I did see at least one loon on this pond. That is always a good sign. I did not see anything else. I could not get a good shot of the loon because I was facing the light early evening.
This pond has free primitive campsites in different locations accessible by boat and in some cases by trail. There is a trail from State Route 3 that goes to some of the campsites and ends up in the parking lot next to the boat launch. I did not see any motor boats on this pond. I was the only kayaker at the time.
I like this pond. There were people there. Most if not all seemed to be locals. I did not see anyone at the campsites, although the woods was thick and I did not see the actual sites from the lake. I am guessing some were occupied. I would definitely want to return to this spot again in the future.
Bring water and food with you and of course a map. This pond is covered by the Adirondack Paddler’s Map North. This map is waterproof in that you can get it wet with no effect as far as my experience has been. It is available at most local bookshops and outdoor stores. Get out and enjoy nature and stay safe!
Another pond with access to other bodies of water and free primitive campsites along it is Hoel Pond. Hoel Pond is another large pond with some nice views of neighbouring mountains. This is one pond I recommend you travel to with a friend.
Hoel Pond is in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. It is north of Follensby Clear Pond and southwest of Lake Clear and Upper St. Regis Lake.
How to Get There
From State Route 30 you take Floodwood Road west until you reach Hoel Pond Road. Turn onto Hoel Pond Road and right after you pass the golf course, on the left side of the road turn left. There is a dirt road there that looks like it is part of the gold course, but it is not. It has the little sign pictured above, but it is easy to miss. If you miss the road on the left and continue on Hoel Road it then becomes a private road. You will know you went too far as you are in an area with houses and it is passed the golf course and into a wooded area. The dirt road winds down to an area near the pond that has parking spots and some primitive campsites.
This was a tough launch for me by myself. I think it would be much easier for two people to carry a canoe or kayak down these steep steps. This was the reason I recommend going with another person. There is a small sandy beach area below these steps to launch your kayak from. Motor boats owners can not launch from the state boat launch.
It was a very windy day and once I kayaked across to the point then hugged the land is was a much smoother paddle.
This sign at the other end of the Hoel pond marks the canoe carry to Turtle Pond. It is a narrow path up to the site of an old train tracks and back down to the other pond.
Because the carry down to Turtle Pond was steep I did not feel comfortable carrying the kayak down this hill.
When you cross over the hill to Turtle Pond you enter the St. Regis Canoe Wilderness.
There is a culvert pipe under the railroad tracks leading to Turtle Pond. It appears to go slightly downhill. It is a small pipe and the water level is low in the pipe. You should not try to kayak through it. On the Turtle Pond side the water level is about a one foot drop from the pipe. Some kayakers say they were able to send their boats through the pipe on their own to Turtle Pond. I think you should have two people for this with one waiting on the Turtle Pond side to catch it. Otherwise you run the risk of it drifting into the pond or being damaged from the drop off.
I always recommend bringing plenty of water and food with you on long trips. I stopped to eat lunch on the other side of the pond where the canoe carry was. I bring an insulated lunch bag with ice packs inside tied to my kayak but accessible. On that day I ate a veggie wrap from Nori’s on Church Street in Saranac Lake. I took it along with me to enjoy. This was my second kayak trip of the day. I started with Mirror Lake earlier in the morning.
There are free primitive campsites along most of the lake on land that is forest preserve. Many sites are only accessible by walking or by boat. There are additional free campsites along Turtle, Slang and Long Pond. These campsites are first come first served. Usually you can only stay three days and after that you would have to get a ranger’s permission to stay longer.
This was a nice pond with nice views of the neighbouring mountains. However, because of the boat launch and canoe carry conditions, I recommend you do not do this alone, but with another person. Safety first. Get out and enjoy nature!
Are you looking for a lake in the Adirondacks to kayak or canoe? Do you want one with free campsites? Are you looking for one with access to other bodies of water? Blue Mountain Lake will fit the bill.
The boat launch is located on State Route 28. It is a public beach and boat launch. Route 28 has parking spots on both sides of the street. This May weekend I was the only one launching from the beach. I did not see another kayak or canoe on the lake. This site has a pavilion with changing rooms that were locked. Maybe they open when it is warmer or they are still following a COVID protocol.
Blue Mountain Lake is accessible to other bodies of water. It connects to Eagle Lake and from there you can paddle to Utowana Lake. For those who want a very long journey you can access Raquette Lake from the Marion River at the end of Utowana Lake.
This lake has some free campsites. It is first come first served. There are 4 primitive sites on Long Island and 1 on Osprey Island. Bring your gear on your kayak or canoe. As with most Adirondack free sites there is a three day limit unless you get permission from a ranger to stay longer.
This lake gives you some nice views of the neighbouring mountains. It is close to other lakes, so you could even hit Long Lake , Indian Lake etc. by car in the same day after kayaking. I highly recommend this lake if kayaking or canoeing. You may want to stick the the edges to avoid the wind.
The Adirondack Experience is very close-by and worth stopping at. They also have marvellous views of Blue Mountain Lake from their cafe patio. The Adirondack Experience is a museum with several buildings including cabins, cottages, and camps of the past brought to the museum. You get a feel for what life and pleasure was like in the Adirondacks in yesteryear.
The Adirondack Mountains in New York has a lot of places to paddle where you do not have to get out of the water to go from one pond of lake to another. Others lakes or ponds may have cary paths between them. Fish Creek Ponds is another body of water you can access multiple bodies of water through without getting out of your canoe or kayak.
I actually launched from Follensby Clear Pond. The launch is near the Spider Creek Passage into Fish Creek Ponds. I launched from there to get two chances to see the loon baby and its mom. Going through Fish Creek Ponds after you go under the Route 30 bridge you see Fish Creek Ponds Campgrounds along the pond. These are paid sites. I could see a playground, beach, and fishing area.
From there you can access Square Pond . I went in this body of water a short distance then turned and went towards Fish Creek.
Fish Creek is a fairly wide creek in most areas. It is like a highway for canoeists and kayakers. Along the way you pass a dock to the canoe carry heading towards Follensby Clear Pond. The dock was too short for my 10 foot kayak to park at and the water next to the dock was too deep for me to step into. It was really more for canoes. This would be another way to get to Follensby Clear Pond avoiding a long paddle through Fish Creek Ponds, Spider Creek Passage and into Follensby Clear Pond.
Next up was Copperas Pond. There are two primitive campsites on this body of water. They are across then pond from each other. Each has an open outhouse or privy. Behind the campsite I tied up at you also got a view of a another pond that had no outlet connecting it to other bodies of water.
Passage from Fish Creek into Floodwood Pond
Next I started paddling towards a Fish Creek passage that connects to Floodwood Pond and eventually Rollins Pond. Little Square Pond is beyond the entrance to this passage. It is unnamed on maps, but it may still be considered Fish Creek. At the entrance there was another primitive campsite. Floodwood Pond has several primitive campsites along it.
I turned back before Floodwood as I had already paddled quite a ways from Follensby Clear Pond. I will save Floodwood and Rollins for another trip.
I did see loons along the way. These ponds and creeks had more boat traffic due to the campgrounds on Fish Creek Ponds and Rollins Pond. Most of Fish Creek was not for power boats. Way back on Fish Creek beyond Copperas Pond I saw a loon who was quite busy fishing. I also saw a loon near the campgrounds at Fish Creek Ponds and a mother loon and her baby on the other side of Fish Creek Ponds near the private houses closer to Follensby Clear Pond.
In the summer there is more traffic on these bodies of water than others. It is due to two large campgrounds on Rollins Pond and Fish Creek Ponds. Both of those campgrounds allow caravans/campers. Despite that fact, it is still a nice place to paddle. I want to return to kayak from Rollins Pond to Floodwood Pond.
What is a nice body of water to kayak or canoe one and see loons? I have been to Fish Creek Pond a few times in the Adirondack Mountains of NY. Each time I have seen mother and her baby. I have never seen the father.
The first time I spotted these two in August the mother was still bringing a lot of fish to the baby although the baby was trying to go under water in pursuit of fish itself. This baby appeared to be older and larger than the other loon babies I saw on other lakes and ponds.
In September, the mother was not bringing much fish to the baby. I only witnessed one. It was leaving the baby mostly to its own devices. The baby was fishing a lot.
Then, I heard the mother call from the other side of the pond, and the baby stopped fishing and swam further down the pond, turned and faced the wind and tried to fly. (I was thinking the mother said the wind is good, stop and practice flying. ) The baby went back down the pond and tried again and again. It was flapping its wings attempting to walk on the water at the same time. It came close to going totally airborne.
Then it went back to fishing. It complained weakly. Not sure if the baby was discouraged by its flying attempts. The mother came by and brought the baby a fish. Either it was a reward for the flying attempts, encouragement, or the baby still needed a little help getting food.
Pretty soon the adult loons fly off and leave the babies behind. It’s important they fish for themselves. They will practice many times swimming to the far end of a pond, facing the wind, and attempting to fly. Eventually they do. Because they are such big birds they need a lot of space for their take off. They will join other loons further south after they figure it all out.
Boathouses are a covered structure with direct access to body of water. Some say it is only for the storage of boats and boating equipment. They also regulate them in some areas of the Adirondacks. In those areas they can not have bathrooms, beds, a kitchen or heating. In other places they have all of those things. Lake Placid tends to have more of the latter in this description.
The original style of the houses and boathouses was labeled Adirondack. It was used in the great camps, some of which were built during the Gilded Age for the rich. Adirondack style is known for using local materials such as birch and cedar logs that were whole, split, or peeled logs. Using bark was common as well as granite fieldstone. The inside of these houses or boathouses they would use rustic furniture. Some of these boathouses pictured are quite old while others may be a modern take on the boathouses of old.
There are two main lakes near the village of Lake Placid. The one most people see on the main business thoroughfare in the village of Lake Placid is actually Mirror Lake. Mirror Lake is about a mile long and covers about 128 acres. There are homes and businesses around the lake. Lake Placid, however, is on the north side of the village. Lake Placid covers about 2,170 acres.
Most of the shoreline around the Lake Placid is undeveloped. However, there are some pretty specular homes and boathouses on some parts of the lake. Most of the homes are well over a million dollars. CEOs of companies own these as vacation homes, as well as musicians, and other famous people. In other words, the top 1 percent vacation in these homes. Some homes are only accessible via boat.
I took an hour long pontoon boat tour with Lake Placid Marina and Boat tours to see the lake. If vacationing in the area this is a nice boat trip. The captain, Captain Cook, is very knowledgeable about the history of the houses and their inhabitants. Yes, I went in June 2020. This boat tour is operating. As of the end of June, the Adirondack region is in stage 4 of opening up.
If visiting the Lake Placid area consider going on this boat tour. Not only do you learn some of the history of the lake, but also experience some really scenic mountain and lake views.