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.
Fish Creek Ponds is in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. It is near Upper Saranac Lake. These photos were taken from a kayak during a trip in August.
Loon Fishing Technique
The baby loon was always close to the mother in August. I did not see a second parent around. I may post pictures from September another time. Loons are interesting birds to watch. Just remember keep a distance.
Want to paddle on three different lakes or ponds in one day? Would you like to do this without getting out of your kayak or canoe? There are a few options to do this in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
Three bodies of water you could paddle in one trip are Follensby Clear Pond, Fish Creek Pond, and Upper Saranac Lake. One way you can accomplish this is to start at Follensby Clear Pond on the south side. There is a parking lot and boat launch there. The boat launch on the northern end of Follensby is further away and would lengthen your trip. Another option is you could start at the boat launch on Fish Creek Ponds.
Spider Creek Passage
From there you can paddle north a short distance to the Spider Creek passage. It is not far from the boat launch and starts by going under the State Route 30. You follow Spider Creek Passageway into Fish Creek Ponds. Spider Creek Passageway is about 1.5 foot deep. In some areas it may be deeper than that. What you will see in the passageway are spots where beavers tried to dam the creek. I also saw ducks hiding behind the downed trees.
Fish Creek Ponds
Fish Creek Ponds is a large pond with a boat launch and campgrounds along it. In the area I paddled near to get into Fish Creek Bay there appeared to be private houses along it. So if you wanted to camp you have the option of booking a stay at the Fish Creek Ponds Campground or try your luck at the free campsites along Follensby Clear Pond. Those are first come first served.
Upper Saranac Lake
Once in Fish Creek Ponds you stay on the left side of the pond and look for a wider passageway, more like a larger creek. This takes you into Fish Creek Bay of Upper Saranac Lake. I paddled around Whitney Point.
There is some wildlife to see along the way. In Fish Creek Pond I saw a merganser ducks. I also saw a loon mother with an older baby. It was much larger than the other babies I saw in other lakes and ponds. The mother was still bringing it fish. I also saw a loon pair in Fish Creek Bay of Upper Saranac Lake.
Be Cautious Be Prepared
Upper Saranac is a much larger lake so you need to be cautious when paddling. Wind can greatly make your trip more difficult. Also people in the summer go out even early in the morning to water ski and you need to be careful around boaters. They do not always pay attention to you. I also recommend bringing a map whenever you do a paddle like this one. Adirondack Paddler’s Map North covers this region. It is waterproof. I have gotten it wet plenty of times and it is still good. It is published by Paddlesports Press in Saranac Lake. You can buy it at most stores that sell kayaks or canoes in NY. I was able to get one in the Hudson Valley. Many local bookstores in the Adirondacks carry it as well.
On the return I spent more time in Follensby Clear Pond before I took my kayak out of the water. It was a brilliant day with not much wind, so paddling on each body of water was divine.
This was a great paddling trip, that I highly recommend. Going through the Spider Creek Passageway was fun and it is always a joy to see loons along the way.
If you want to hit more than one lake in the Adirondacks while canoeing or kayaking, where could you go? Upper St. Regis Lake may be an answer as it connects to Spitfire Lake and from Spitfire Lake you can get to Lower St. Regis Lake.
Upper St. Regis Lake has a boat launch off St. Regis Carry (Road) which is off of State Route 30. You can park along the side of the road leading to the boat launch. The boat launch is for power boaters as well, so it is a nice gradual ease into the lake. This location also has a free do it yourself boat wash. This is important to make sure you do not transport invasive species between lakes. You can launch and park for free.
I got there early in the morning and only stayed for about 2 hours. I hope to go again. I was trying to squeeze in another nearby lake before a predicted storm.
I came across the first loon when paddling between two islands. I believe it was the father loon. As I started moving away I heard a loon calling from the other side of the lake. I went in that direction and found a mother loon and her baby. They stayed in an area that was between an island and a marshy area. The mother called again and the father came by.
The difference between these loon parents and the ones I saw at Upper Saran Lake was this pair tried to feed the baby by putting the fish in the water near it. The ones in Saranac Lake handed off the fish above water.
What was humorous to me was the father would come up out of the water making a loud complaining like noise when he did not surface with a fish. He did not do that when he did have a fish. These parents seemed less successful catching fish than the ones at Upper Saranac, who were constantly coming up with them.
The light was not optimal. It was early morning on a cloudy day. However, once again I was happy to watch this family from a distance.
Do you like viewing wildlife while you kayak or canoe? Would you like to see loons or ducks? There are many lakes and ponds in the northern Adirondacks where you can see wildlife. One such lake is Upper Saranac Lake.
How to access
The lake is near the towns of Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Upper Saranac Lake can be accessed on the north end off State Route 30 via a parking lot and boat launch. Parking and launching at this site is free. The boat launch is one of the better ones I have experienced in the Adirondacks. It is paved, so if you have a motor boat it is ideal. It was also easier for me to use it to get into my kayak. I prefer boat launches to dock entries. They also have a free boat wash to clean off your kayak. This helps reduce the chance of carrying invasive species between lakes.
The day I went it was supposed to rain and storm. I went to another lake in early morning and went to this lake later in the morning for a few hours. It did rain a few times slightly while a paddled. The first wildlife I encountered were what appeared to be Merganser ducks. I am thinking a female and a baby.
I paddled across the lake and around some islands. I heard a loon call a few times from the other side of the lake. The weather was looking iffy so I decided to head back. While heading back towards the boat launch I ran into a loon family with two babies. I kept my distance and they were fine with me being around.
I got to watch the parent loons take turns going under the water to find fish for their two babies. The babies popped their heads under water to look and at times disappeared in pursuit of something. Since the parents were bringing up a lot of fish I think the babies are not so successful at it yet. These parents were handing off fish to the babies above water.
The weather was not ideal for photos , but I am happy I was able to witness a loon family with two babies. I am also happy I got to witness them feeding them . Sometimes kayaking or canoeing is not just about the physical benefits you get from it, it is about what you see along the way.
The sound I associate with hanging out on a lake or pond in the evening in the Adirondacks is the loon. The sounds they make to me are peaceful. I was lucky enough to see loons on two Adirondack lakes in June.
Where do you find loons? They prefer wooded lakes and ponds with large populations of small fish. They prefer lakes with islands and coves for protection. Both lakes I found them on I would not have spotted them from shore. During the day I found them fishing in the middle of the lakes. One one lake I kayaked around for almost an hour before I caught sight of a pair. On the other lake I was on a tour boat when we spotted one. The Great Lakes region has between 5,000- 7,200 pairs while New England and New York have around 2,250 pairs. Well known for having loons are the New York Adirondacks, Maine, and Minnesota, although other states also have them.
Loons are expert at fishing. They can dive as deep as 60 m or 200 feet. They normally dive 4 to 10 meters (13- 33 feet). They swallow their prey underwater. They have powerful back legs that propel them in fast chases underwater.
Loons breed in spring and summer. Their nests are shorelines. I heard one loon calling as it got dark from what appeared to be the property of a wealthy person. I respect property and would not trespass. I did kayak by the property on another day, but could not get a good view from the lake to see if there was indeed a nest there.
If you are lucky enough to camp or stay right on a lake in the Adirondacks that has loons, you may be lucky enough to hear them right after the sun goes down. They are an iconic sound of the Adirondacks.