Best of 2022: A Beautiful Birthday Paddle

The NFCT’s Best of 2022 series features short stories from staff, board members and friends highlighting their favorite paddles of the year, both on and off the canoe trail. If you have a favorite trip to share on our blog and social media, email [email protected].

My birthday paddle is one I look forward to every year. A late season paddle on the Saranac River, downstream from Saranac Lake, makes it easy for any of my friends to join in, regardless of experience level.

This year, our group put in at Beaver Park, right below the Lake Flower Dam rapids. This section of river takes you through the heart of the village I’ve grown to call home: Saranac Lake.

It’s a different view looking up from a canoe at the historic balconies and buildings along the route, and one that will gain the attention of people walking along the riverwalk or streets. Roughly three quarters of a mile downstream, you reach Pine Street Bridge; from here, the river starts to leave the village and river right becomes a little more wild as it borders the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area. The first settler did not arrive in Saranac Lake until 1819, and it’s not until 3 miles downriver that you get a glimpse of what he might have seen way back when. At about this same point, the confluence of Moose Creek — the outlet of Moose Pond — arrives on your right. This is navigable for about a half mile until the first beaver dam blocks your route.  This dam provides a quiet place to observe nature, listen to the trickling of water, and enjoy a birthday beer with good friends amongst the backdrop of Mckenzie, Moose and Alton mountains.

Back on the main channel, another three miles or so brings you to the McCasland Bridge, also known as the Low Bridge. This takeout — maintained by the NFCT — is a good place to end your paddle and enjoy the rest of your day. Should you wish to extend the trip a few more miles, the next takeout is just before Permanent Rapids, on River Road in Bloomingdale. You can also stretch your legs at Moose Pond Bridge and walk the two-mile trail back to Moose Pond.