Adirondack Canoe Classic
The Adirondack Canoe Classic — known as the 90-Miler — is an Adirondack tradition dating back over three decades. The annual event, which takes place over three days in September, takes paddlers from Old Forge, NY, to Saranac Lake, NY, the first 90 miles of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
In early 2020, the NFCT announced that it would acquire the 90-Miler, and other events and activities traditionally managed by the Adirondack Watershed Alliance, by the launch of the 2021 paddling season. The NFCT will run these events in 2021, with support from the AWA and its founders, Brian and Grace McDonnell. Other events include the ‘Round the Mountain, Celebrate Paddling Invitational and the Long Lake Long Boat Regatta.
This year’s 90-Miler will take place Sept. 10-12. The event is nearly full. Send a message to [email protected] to find out if there is still space for your boat in the race. The 2021 paddler roster will be announced on July 31!
NFCT will host the 90-Miler with guidance and permits from state and local officials, in accordance with all New York State COVID protocols.
Rules & Specs
The Adirondack Canoe Classic offers a variety of boat classes, described in detail below. When choosing a canoe, kayak, or guideboat for the 90-Miler, racers should consider boats that are stable enough to handle the windy conditions often found on open lakes and light enough to transport over the race’s many carries (three of which exceed a mile in length). The use of wheels is permitted in the Adirondack Canoe Classic. Racers opting to use wheels must carry them in their boat all three days of the race. Certain modifications may be made to boats, such as stretching material over, or placing flotation bags in canoes. Please note that all modifications are subject to the approval of the boat judge. These guidelines have been written as specifically as possible, but all racers should note that the on-site boat judge is the final arbiter of all class decisions.
The largest class in the classic. Non-competitive participant category for canoes, kayaks and guideboats. No unlimited kayaks or amateur class canoes are permitted in open touring. No age or gender divisions and no 1st, 2nd, or 3rd-place awards will be given. Participation plaques may be purchased. You are in it to finish. Times will be kept. This group of paddlers must make cut-off times to finish each day.
Maximum length: 17 feet, 6 inches. Weight: minimum of 55 pounds from the manufacturer. Race organizer discretion: If it looks like a racing canoe, it is not a recreational canoe. Any boats made specifically for racing are excluded from this class.
Included in this class are hulls similar to the Jensen 18. There are minimal concave lines in the hull and no concave lines in the gunwales. Maximum length is 18′ 6”, no minimum weight. Minimum width at 4” waterline is 15 percent of length (33 5/16” for 18’6”). Tumblehome max is 1” per side. All NYMCRA specifications apply. The current C-2 Stock list includes: Wenonah: Jensen 17, Jensen 18, Sundowner, Minnesota II, Monarch, Odyssey, Escape, and Escapade; GRB Newman Designs: Traveler 17′ 5”, Traveler 18′ 6”, Monarch; Mad River Lamoille, Horizon.; Bell Canoe Works Northstar, Northwind, and Northwoods; Savage River Works Susquehanna.
C-2 open racing
Included in this class are WENONAH SCR’S (Standard Class Racers); COMP cruisers; and 3 x 27’s. If it looks like a racing canoe, it is. Specifications according to NYMCRA & USCA. These participants paddle regularly, frequently as training for races.
Paddlers must be related, with one paddler 16 years of age or younger. Recreation or Stock boats only.
C-1 open racing
One person in a solo racing boat. Specifications according to NYMCRA & USCA.
Maximum length – 17’ 0”, Tumblehome not to exceed 3.5” per side. No minimum weight. The current C-1 Stock list includes GRB Newman Designs Classic and Classic XL; Wenonah Advantage, Prism, Encounter and Solitude; Sawyer Summer Song, DY Special and Shock Wave; Savage River’s Otegan (modified), Bell Magic, and Mad River’s Independence.
Standard war canoe
Minimum of 6 paddlers in a wooden canoe built to meet the following specifications: Maximum length 28’, Minimum width at gunwales and 6” waterline 39”, Minimum depth of 14”.
Open war canoe
Minimum of 7 paddlers in a boat built to accommodate them – No restrictions!
In an effort to make the competition about the team of paddlers and not the boat, organizers have identified the most readily available boats to base class specifications upon. Boats must weigh a minimum of 55 pounds, and be designed by the manufacturer to accommodate 4 paddlers. Wenonah’s Minnesota 3 (with 4 seats) and Minnesota 4 are built primarily for backcountry travel but perform admirably in a competitive event against similar craft. Boats of similar design to the Minn 3 and 4 will be inspected and must be approved by the boat judge.
Boat hulls cannot be modified. Seat configurations can be redesigned to meet team needs. Bailers and spray skirts are allowed. Participants are required to use single bladed canoe paddles to power the craft. Rudders are not allowed.
Specific hull measurements:
- Maximum length of 23’ 1″, Minimum weight 55 pounds from the manufacturer.
- The boat must be specifically built by the manufacturer to accommodate 4 paddlers.
- Minimum width at the center line, at the 4″ water line is 33″, at both the gunwales and 4″ waterline.
- Minimum width at the 4″ waterline – 4 feet in from the bow is 16″, 4 feet in from the stern is 17″.
- There is no concavity in the longitudinal axis of the hull (bow to stern) and no concavity in the cross section (side to side) below the 7″ waterline. There are minimal concave lines in the hull and no concave lines in the gunwales.
- Minimum depths from the manufacturer: Bow = 20″, Center = 13½”, Stern = 17″.
- No hard line transitions in the hull of the boat. Curve of chine must be equal to at least the radius of a softball.
- Maximum tumblehome of 2″ per side.
- Maximum length of 25’ 11”
- Minimum weight 50 pounds
- Boat must be built to accommodate 4 paddlers
- Minimum width at the widest point from gunwale to gunwale is 32”. No concavity along the length of the gunwale from bow to stern.
- Minimum depth: Bow = 17”, Center =12 ½”, Stern = 13 ½”.
- Paddlers must use canoe paddles.
- One of a kind boats are permitted.
For the 90 Miler, There will be one C-4 open racing class including men, women and mixed teams.
Standard voyageur canoe
Minimum of 6 paddlers in a wooden canoe built to meet the following specifications: Maximum length 28’, Minimum width at gunwales and 6” waterline 39”, Minimum depth of 14”.
Open voyageur canoe
Minimum of 7 paddlers in a boat built to accommodate them – No restrictions!
Any canoe or sea kayak of any material with a maximum length of 16’ 0” and a minimum width at the 4” waterline of 22”. Must use double-bladed paddle.
Kayaks of any material with a maximum length of 20’ and a minimum width at the 4” waterline of 18”.
Any kayak over 20’ in length and / or less than 18” in width at the 4” waterline.
Two people in any kayak.
- Length: 11 – 23 feet (15 to 17 standard)
- Beam: 32 – 44 inches (Outside measurement: 34 to 38 inches is standard)
- Bottom Board Outside Width: 4 – 10 inches.
- Stem Height: 20 – 26 inches.
- Depth Amidships: 11 – 13 inches.
- Construction: Traditional, Strip or mold construction; ribs may be laminated, hull may be wood, fiberglass, kevlar, or composite material, but must
- conform to traditional guideboat shape and character in the opinion of the boat judge.
- Oars: Solid wood oars, maximum 8 foot length, 5 1/2 inches wide.
- Hardware: Brass, bronze, or steel pins with 1/2 inch diameter hole to accept pin; may be bushed if out of round.
- Use of wheels: is permitted in the Guideboat Class.
- Foot braces: may be used.
- Seats: Must be fixed, no rolling seats are allowed.
- Oars and Paddles: may be laminated.
- Hardware: Brass, bronze, or aluminum pins.
- Foot braces: must be secured to the boat.
Unacceptable for the guideboat class:
- Roller or sliding seats.
- Roller, ball or needle bearings in hardware.
- Boats of design and or construction with pulled- in beams / ends.
- Paddles and oars with cupped or spooned blades.
During an event, the guideboat must be propelled by rowing, i.e. the rower can not exchange a paddle for the oars to negotiate Brown’s Tract.
Comments or clarification questions can be addressed to [email protected].
Info for First-Timers
If you’re considering participating in the 90-Miler for the first time, read on for some helpful tips and advice.
Be prepared, mentally and physically. The 90-Miler is a backcountry race — when on the course, you are often miles away from immediate medical care or rescue. The weather can be very hot or very cold, and wind is almost always a factor. There are mile-long portages, big open lakes, twisty beaver-dammed streams and shallow rivers with so many twists and turns it is hard to keep track of where you are.
Do some research on the course. Come up for a weekend in the summer to paddle a couple of sections of the course. Know your equipment and make sure it is in great condition. Nothing replaces time in the seat. No matter what class you enter, your successful completion of the 90-Miler will be more likely if you and your team have spent some time paddling. You do not have to be a professional paddler or have years of experience to participate, but the more preparation you put in, the better your results will be.
Day One: Start at Old Forge on Old Forge Pond; paddle and carry through the Fulton Chain of Lakes; and then continue on to Raquette Lake, the Marion River and the Eckford Chain of Lakes ending in Blue Mountain Lake. DISTANCE: 35 miles CARRIES: Four (3.5 miles total).
Day Two: Start at Bissell’s on Long Lake; paddle down Long Lake and into the Raquette River; carry around Raquette Falls; and then continue on the Raquette to a finish at the NYS Raquette River Boat Launch on Routes 3 & 30 (approximately 5 miles east of the village of Tupper Lake). DISTANCE: 30 miles CARRIES: One (1.25 miles total).
Day Three: Start at Fish Creek Campground; paddle down Upper Saranac Lake and carry to Middle Saranac Lake; and then paddle across Middle Saranac Lake and into the Saranac River, carrying around the Upper State Locks. Continue into Lower Saranac Lake and another section of the Saranac River; carry around the Lower State Locks; and then continue across Oseetah Lake and Lake Flower to finish the race at Riverfront Park in Saranac Lake Village. DISTANCE: 25 miles CARRIES: Three (0.5 mile total).
Your food and water. Find out what food you can tolerate and what will make you happy in the second half of the day. Hydration is essential. Most people use a bladder system, like a Camelbak, and some have a sugary electrolyte drink, but these are decisions you need to make before race day. Test and repeat!
Your boat. The type of boat you choose is up to you. Check out the boat classifications and specifications. If you are not sure, ask. For most first-timers, a solo recreational boat, stock boat or touring kayak are popular choices. You want a craft you can be comfortable in for up to seven hours on the water, yet light enough to portage across the carries.
Your gear. You will need an extra paddle and some extra clothing. Make sure your life jacket is comfortable and Coast Guard approved. Some people use wheels on the portages. They can help a lot on Day 1 as the carries are long, relatively wide and mostly level. Know how your wheels work and how to repair them. Make sure the tires are in good shape and connections work. Please note: For all competitive classes, if you start with wheels on Day 1 you must carry them with you all three days. The touring classes are not required to keep their wheels throughout.
Practice your paddling and your portages. Do not show up having never paddled or carried your vessel. Have a plan and practice carrying your canoe or kayak with the gear you will have with you during the 90-Miler.
Pit crews. At a minimum you will need someone to drive your car from the start to the finish line each day. A pit crew can also assist with replenishing supplies, providing moral support, setting up camp gear, equipment repairs, cooking and more.
Cut-off times. These are designed to make sure all participants and volunteers are off of the water before dark. At predetermined times there will be a Cut-Off Ambassador meeting participants at designated locations on the course. On rare occasions event organizers will also need to pull people off course to ensure that the event does not get so stretched out that we are compromising our volunteer resources.
Safety. Your safety is our number one priority. Race organizers attempt to plan for most contingencies, and we take your safety seriously. We partner with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, search and rescue groups and volunteers to provide a safety net of boats and personnel out on the course. Nevertheless, there will be times when you are by yourself, and you are ultimately responsible for your own safety. You should know where you are going and be prepared for emergency situations. Paddlers in the 90-Miler are a tight-knit community, and most will come to the aid of fellow paddlers.
We rely on NYSDEC personnel along with search and rescue teams and interested volunteers to stretch a chain of safety boats along the course. Should it get rough: use your head, follow directions and stay close to shore. In the unlikely event that the wrong side of your boat points to the sky: attempt a self-rescue, get to shore or accept assistance from other paddlers or the nearest safety boat. Make sure you know how to right your canoe and have practiced self-rescue.
How do I register?
Online registration will be open July 1-15, 2021. If you wish to be notified when registration opens please send an email to [email protected].
If you are unable to register online send your name and address to [email protected] or Northern Forest Canoe Trail, PO Box 565, Waitsfield, VT 05673.
We will mail paper registration forms on June 15, 2021. All registration applications must be received by July 15, 2021.
Please note that neither method of registration increases your likelihood of getting a spot in the event.
For telephone inquiries call (802) 496-2285 ext. 2.
Does everyone who sends in an entry form get into the event?
All registrations will be considered an application to participate in the event. We will review each application to ensure you have demonstrated an ability to complete the event. Previous completion of the 90-Miler automatically qualifies you. Demonstrated racing experience will generally qualify. Multi-day tripping experience or long day paddles will generally qualify.
If we have more than 275 qualifying boats (teams) entered, we use a weighted lottery that favors long-time participants to determine who will be awarded a position.
How will I know I am in?
We will notify participants by email of their successful registration by July 31, 2021. Participants are listed by class on the roster, which is posted on this web page. If you do not have an email, you can look for your name here. If you do not see your name on the list you didn’t make the cut; you will be receiving an email and your credit card will be refunded. If you paid by mail with a check, you will receive a letter and your check back in the mail. Please know that it is a tough day as a race organizer.
Confirmed 90-Miler competitors will pick up their race packets – which will include boat numbers, meal passes, and T-shirts – at the Visitors Center in Old Forge from 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM on Thursday, Sept. 9, and from 6:00 AM to 7:00 AM on Friday, Sept. 10. Please note that new race registrations will NOT be available or accepted at Old Forge.
Is there a boat that is not good for the 90-Miler?
Yes. Short, fat or inflatable kayaks or canoes do not work well. Heavy layups can also be problematic due to the significant numbers of carries on the route. Paddlers using these boats frequently are not able to meet cut-off times or do not finish.
Do I need to carry all my gear with me during the event?
No. Most people carry water, food and extra clothing. A pit crew can move the rest of your gear from the start to the finish each day.
Do I need a pit crew?
At a minimum, you will need someone to move your car and extra gear from the start line to the finish line each day while you’re paddling. Racers are encouraged to have support personnel, or “pit crews”, accompany them along the race course. Pit crews can carry belongings, offer refreshments and offer encouragement throughout each day, enabling racers to focus on the task at hand. Pit crews must provide their own transportation. Please note: Pit crews may provide only nutritional assistance and encouragement; they may NOT carry the racer’s boat or upgrade equipment during the course of a day’s racing. Only broken or malfunctioning gear may be replaced. Pit crews may NOT provide a racer with wheels on any carry; if a racer in a competitive class elects to use wheels to carry their boat, they must carry the wheels in their boat all three days!
Is a shuttle provided?
No. Paddlers are responsible for their own transportation at all times. If you shuttle back to get your vehicle with another paddler, it will take well over an hour each day.
Where do people stay overnight?
Participants can either utilize the local DEC campgrounds or stay at one of the many lodging establishments along the route.
- For Thursday night please contact the Old Forge Camping Resort directly, 1-800-CAMPING. Make sure to tell them you are participating in the 90-miler. You must pre-register for a site.
- At the request of the DEC, everyone interested in camping at Lake Eaton on Friday night or Fish Creek on Saturday night will be required to reserve and pay for their site by using the DEC reservation system, Reserve America.com or phone 1 800 – 456 2267.
- At Fish Creek Campground boats will be stored in the sites near the start line around campsite 230. If you would like to reserve for Friday night in Lake Eaton, and Saturday night in Fish Creek, One night reservations are not accepted until after July 1. We have been assured that sites will be available for 90 miler participants in the usual areas of the campground. When you register for your site, please remember that there is a 6 person maximum per site.To expedite the check in process, at the time of your reservation please indicate the names of the people you will share your site with. Campground staff will have site reservations ready for your arrival – so remember the campsite number you reserved and who the permit holder is to expedite the check in process. If you wish to stay at Fish Creek for more than one night, you can add a night upon arrival – this means that if you want to stay Friday and Saturday nights you can arrive on Friday and pay for your additional night at the gate. The same goes for Sunday. All campers will enter Lake Eaton through the front gate. All campers will initially check in at the front gate at Fish Creek, after that the back gate will be open.
- Participants not camping at Fish Creek will enter through the back gate for the Sunday morning start. The back gate will open at 6AM Sunday morning. Please park in designated areas or along only one side of the campground road. Please obey all posted campground rules, especially the posted speed limit. Dumpsters and recycling bins will be located at the campground exit for your use.
Lodging: when making reservations for the 90-Miler please consider these long-time supporters:
Ampersand Bay Resort
Clark’s Beach Hotel
Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn
Old Forge Camping Resorts
Shaheen’s Adirondack Inn
The Park Motel
Water’s Edge Inn
Saranac Waterfront Resort
Sara Placid Motel
St Regis Suites
Are campgrounds at the finish lines?
Campgrounds are not at the finish lines. They are located several miles away. This is where pit crews become essential.
Do I start where we finished the day before?
No, start lines are different from the finish lines each day.
What if I don’t have a car or truck to move my boat?
Race organizers have trailers to move boats from the finish to start lines each day. Please indicate on your entry form if this is something you want to take advantage of.
What if I don’t have a canoe?
Canoes are available for rent from several local liveries.
Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters
Mac’s Canoe Livery
Raquette River Outfitters
St. Regis Canoe Outfitters
Is food and water provided during the event?
Because of changing COVID restrictions at the time of organizing, meals and pit stop food will be a little different this year.
- Slickers will offer their terrific spaghetti dinner on Thursday night: pay at the door.
- Friday take out dinner will be available at Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake: order here.
- Sunday breakfast items are available at Knapp’s Trading Post near Fish Creek.
- Food trucks will be parked at the race Finish Line in Saranac Lake beginning at noon.
- A small quantity of snacks will be provided in your race packet, but we cannot guarantee food at Pit Stops. Only water will be provided along the race course each day. Paddlers must carry their own refreshments, drinks, and lunches. Please consider Pit Stop water as supplemental to your own!!
Do I need a map?
Maps are always a good idea. However, there are 275 boats in the event and the course is obvious.
Where do I go to the bathroom?
There are port a johns at strategic locations throughout the course. If nature calls between the port a johns, please be discreet.
What if I don’t finish?
You need to notify race officials that you are done for the day. You are welcome to start in the open touring class the remaining days. Please check in at start line race headquarters to make the class switch.
What sort of training regimen should I have prior to the race?
This is a three-day endurance activity. We encourage people to go to other events to see what gear people have in their boats and to experience canoe racing. The more you prepare, the more enjoyable your 90-Miler experience will be.
Where can I find out about more races to prepare myself?
Visit the New York Paddlesports Racing Association website for other races in New York.
What about the carries?
Make sure you have a system for carrying your boat and gear. Remember there are 275 boats in this event all traveling the same route. Be organized and efficient. Practice portaging.
What clothing should I wear?
Wear quick drying synthetic clothing that is comfortable. Avoid cotton. Bring a hat. Footwear that you can get wet and also walk over a mile in while carrying a canoe.
What extra gear should I consider having with me?
Spare paddle, a way to carry water (including during portage), sunscreen, warm clothes if needed, good PFD, portage yoke or a way to carry your boat across the portages.
Are there rapids?
No, this is a flatwater course.
Where can I purchase pit crew t-shirts, plaques, caps, etc?
You can purchase 90-Miler look here.
In response to COVID guidance, we have made adjustments to the start order. We expect that these changes will avoid congestion on the portages. We have also adjusted cut-off times and locations to ensure that all participants are maintaining the requisite speed to finish within the event time limits. Please consider the new wave order when choosing which boat class to register for.
Wave 1 – Gold Canoe (paddlers who have participated in the 90-Miler 20+ times), Super Veterans, Solo Open Touring, SUP
Wave 2 – Guide Boats
Wave 3 – C-2 Stock & C-2 Open Racing
Wave 4 – C-4 Stock & C-4 Open Racing
Wave 5 – C-2 Family, Solo Rec, C-1 Stock, C-1 Open Racing, Touring Kayak, C-2 Recreational
Wave 6 – Unlimited and Tandem Kayaks, Voyageur Canoes
Wave 7 – Open Touring Tandem
Wave 8 – Open Touring C-3 and C-4
NEW! Cut-off times and locations
Day 1 Start time Wave 1: 8:00 am
- 8th lake carry 2:00 (16 miles)
- Raquette Lake Bridge 3:30 (22 miles)
- Marion River 4:30 (29 miles)
Day 2 Start time Wave 1: 8:30 am
- End of Long Lake 1:00 (13 miles)
- Axton’s Landing 4:00 pm (24 miles)
Day 3 Start 8:00 am
- Route 3 Bridge 1:00 pm (14.5 Miles)
The NFCT invites anyone who is interested to sign up as a race-day volunteer. To learn more, email [email protected].
The NFCT invites you to join us and promote your product or services to participants, pit crews and fans at the 90-Miler:
- Advertise in our annual Paddlers’ Guide, the main event brochure is mailed out to all 600 entrants in August. An additional 400 copies are available to participants, their families and friends at the event.
- Have a vending booth at the finish line where more than 2,500 people converge to celebrate the completion of this annual pilgrimage.
- Sponsor a race class and be recognized by the paddling community as a supporter of the event of the year. Contact Karrie Thomas at (802) 496-2285 ext. 1, or [email protected] for options.
Advertising rates and sizes for the Paddler’s Guide (Aug. 1 deadline):
- Full Page $250 (7.5” tall X 4.5” wide)
- Half Page $175 (3.5” tall X 4.5” wide)
- Quarter Page $100 (2” tall X 4.5” wide)
Exhibitor space at the finish line in Riverfront Park (Saranac Lake) on Sunday:
- 10 X 10 space $200 (can be shared by multiple vendors)
- 10 X 10 space + ½ page advertiser $300
Increase your visibility by contributing a gift certificate or prize to the Paddler’s Raffle. While paddlers make their way into Saranac Lake we will vigorously announce your involvement and support over the loudspeaker as we award prizes at the finish line.
For more information on exhibitor space or advertising opportunities, contact Chris Morris, NFCT communications director, at (518) 524-4320 or [email protected].
The NFCT thanks the following businesses, organizations and municipalities for their generous support of the 90-Miler:
- Mac’s Canoe
- Adirondack Bank
- Adirondack Experience
- Adirondack Health
- Adirondack Hotel
- Adirondack Watershed Institute
- Ampersand Bay Resort
- Central Adirondack Association/Town of Webb
- HIS Delivery Service
- Hornbeck Boats
- Town of Inlet
- Krapf Coaches
- LL Bean
- Long Lake/Raquette Lake
- Old Forge Camping Resorts
- Paul Smith’s
- Placid Boatworks
- The Wild Center
- Zone 3 Landscape/Nursery