Hoel Pond

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.

Location

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.

This sign is small and back from the road a little. It is easy to miss.
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.

Boat Launch
I recommend you go with another person because of the steepness of the steps leading to the boat launch and the canoe carry to Turtle Pond.

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.

Turtle Pond

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.

Turtle Pond. From here you can paddle to Slang Pond. From Slang Pond there is a canoe carry to Long Pond. Again from this point you are in the St. Regis Canoe Wilderness.
Looking at Hoel Pond from the Turtle Pond side.

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.

Picnic

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.

Veggie Wrap from Nori’s in Saranac Lake.
That may be St. Regis Mountain with the fire tower on top.
The weather improved a bit on the return trip.
Looking towards the east side of the pond with privately owned land. I did not see a motor boat on this body of water, but I understand only those who own private properties can have a motor boat. It is not possible to launch a motor boat from the state boat launch.
Camping
This was a group of young women from Gordon College in Massachusetts. They were doing an orientation/ experience for their college that involved two weeks of canoeing and camping in the Adirondacks. They were staying that night at one of the free wilderness primitive campsites.

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!

Loon Lake

There is more than one Loon Lake in New York. One is north of the Saranac Lake/ Lake Placid area, but does not have public access. The second Loon Lake, which I visited, is in Warren County northwest of Lake George and it has public access.

How to Get There

You can get to Loon Lake by taking 87, the Adirondack Northway north from Lake George. Take the exit for Chestertown/Highway 8. Travel west past Chestertown. There are two access points on the southern end of the lake. The first one charges a fee, but it also has a free boat wash you can use without paying to put your kayak in. The second location is very closeby. This location is a town recreation area with a beach and parking right along highway 8.

This is the boat launch that charges a fee.

Loon Lake is 525 acres in size. The length of the shoreline is just under 12 miles. It has many houses on the southern end. I was told many of these are summer homes or rentals. The majority of houses have dock and motorboats.

There was more activity on this lake than I am used to, but I will say the boaters kept a safe distance from this kayaker. People were very friendly on and off the lake.

I could hear thunder the entire time I was on the lake, so I may have done less than half the lake. The thunder was in the distance, but always think of safety first.
The dogs seemed to enjoy riding on a stand up paddleboard.
This man zoned back and forth on the lake on a hoverboard.
Arriving back at the beach. The beach is next to highway 8. The parking is right next to the road.

Overall I would say this is a nice place to paddle. It is not as busy as Lake George, but you are not totally isolated. There are also several other lakes within a short drive of this lake. If you want to paddle a lake in an areas with a friendly, small town feel go to Loon Lake in Warren County, New York. It is another great Adirondack paddle.

Lake Clear

Another beautiful Adirondack lake to paddle which has an outlet connecting it to other bodies of water is Lake Clear. They do not have an official boat launch. However, I found a public parking lot with a path that leads to the beach. It is easy to launch from the beach. The parking lot is accessible from 30 going north.If you are coming from 186 turn north on 30 (it is a right hand turn).

There Beach

The beach on the left I launched from.

I saw three adult loons on this lake. They were all sticking together. The other one was swimming underwater at this point.
Lake Clear
This is the opening to the outlet. It is on the other side of the lake from the beach I set off from.
It is shallow at the opening, however no beaver dams were there to try to cross. This opening was smooth sailing.
The first bridge was an easy duck to get under. Be forewarned the second one I was chest on my legs to paddle under. It is low.
The widest outlet I have come across. At least this section of it was wide. Other sections are like a stream.
I saw three fishermen on kayaks, but they were leaving before the heavier rains arrived.
I turned around near this location near where the outlet turns into a stream in width. It was starting to rain steady and it sounded like waterfalls were at the entrance to the stream section of the outlet. Some other time I need to explore that section.
This heron was fishing along the outlet. This one flew alongside me as I paddled back towards where I started. It was a cool experience to have a great blue heron flying beside me.
On my way back the opening from the outlet back into Lake Clear.

I wish I had nicer weather for this trip. I was lucky to have one nice day. I don’t think these pictures do this lake justice. On this Memorial Day weekend this lake was a nice paddle even in the rain.

Always be safe. I took along a map – the Adirondack Paddler’s Map North. It is published by Paddlesports Press in Saranac Lake. They can be found at sporting goods stores and book stores in the region. Their website is: www.paddlesportspress.com. I also carry food to munch on and water. In addition, I wore a dry suit as it was snowing in the area up to a couple of weeks prior and the water temps were still quite cold.

Get out and enjoy nature! Be safe!

Kayaking Blue Mountain Lake

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.

No one was on the beach, so I launched from there.
Appears to be docks on the other side of this park.
I believe that is Blue Mountain in the background.

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.

A little cabin or boathouse near the shore of the lake.
I stuck the the edges. When I decided to go towards the middle I was surprised by how strong the wind was. It gave me a real workout. A local told me it is common to be very windy in the middle of the 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.

The beach I took off from.

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.

Nearby Attraction

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.

Go their their page here: https://www.theadkx.org. Click on exhibits.

Follensby Clear Pond

Looking for a nice spot to canoe or kayak for a few hours in the Adirondacks? Looking for a place that offers free camping? Follensy Clear Pond may fit the bill.

Follensby Clear Pond is actually pretty large in size. Its larger than some lakes in the area. It is said to cover 491.3 acres.

Access
People who arrived at campsites tied up at the dock to load their canoes. They made trips back and forth setting up their camp. What you see in front of the dock is an island. The lake extends a ways off the right side of this photo.

Follensby Clear Pond has two launch points. One is on the south side of the pond off State Route 30. The other is on the north side of the pond off the same road. I used the parking lot and launch on the south side of the pond. They have two launch sites there. One is with a dock and the other is a rough path with roots sticking up close by. The same path takes you to both. The water is shallow at both points. I prefer standing in the water and getting in. Just be careful bringing your boat to the launch site. Small motor boats appear to be allowed on this pond.

Camping
Marker on a tree pointing out campsite access locations.

There are several campsites around the pond. They appear to be accessible via boat. There are markers on trees where you would access these sites. They are primitive campsites and everything is carry in carry out. It is first come first served, no reservations. Most campsites have outhouses and all have stone rock fire rings. Ladies from a local canoeing group told me there are usually at least one or two available. It appears to be accessible to more, they ask you stay for no more than three days. To say 4 days or longer you need to contact a ranger and get a permit. I am not sure how many campsites there are. I see at one point they were discussing closing some of the sites and there was opposition to that.

Wildlife

This pond has a variety of wildlife. I saw one loon pair. I also saw an eagle that was probably about 3-4 years old without white head feathers. Since there are several lakes and ponds in the near vicinity I don’t think he stays there long. There are ducks, and in July I saw many ducklings.

He was hard to get from the kayak. He was high up in a tree next to the pond. It was windy and the boat was rocking a lot. Eagle maybe 3-4 years old? Not an adult yet.
Exercising their wings- or drying them off?
Loon pair-This one had a battle scar. A fight with a turtle or other animal perhaps?
Loons near the boat launch. The island is in back of them. The loons came into the area of the boat launch area, which was calmer than the pond itself. When watching loons keep a distance. I have a powerful zoom lens.

I kayaked two different bodies of water that day. It was very windy and a little hard to paddle in the middle of the pond. I saw other kayakers and canoeists after I arrived. A canoeing group seems to favor this pond for their outings. It is also a pond that you can access more than one body of water through. I saw a group of kayakers come under State Route 30 through Spider Creek Passage from Fish Creek Ponds. Through Fish Creek Ponds you can access Upper Saranac Lake.

Windy or not it was a great body of water to paddle on. I hope to go back to this location in the near future. Whether you are camping or not it is a great pond to spend a few hours at.