Continuing the NFCT’s Best of 2022 series, our Favorite Trips series features short stories from staff, board members and friends highlighting some recommended paddling routes. If you have a favorite trip to share on our blog and social media, email [email protected].
Expansive lakes can be daunting for the paddler; motorboats, wind and whitecaps can all be discouraging. I have found the best approach can be to focus on exploring isolated bays, coves and inlets. This is certainly the case for New York’s Raquette Lake.
On a gorgeous fall day I made it over to Raquette Lake’s Outlet Bay. This was a multi-purpose trip – to spend some quality time paddling with my mom, to scout out potential stewardship projects in the area and to gather more accurate data on campsite locations for our maps and guides.
A parking area near a bridge at the lake’s outlet serves as a fine launch point. This launch point is not in NFCT maps – at least not until the next reprint! Paddling west, one quickly leaves vacation homes behind, thanks to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation land holdings here.
A cove to the south, fringed by wetlands, beckons for exploration. On this day, however, our goal was to head west to visit the various campsites along the northern shore of the bay. There are three lean-tos here, all of which would make fine overnight or picnic stop. We visited each, having our own picnic lunch, and making note of stewardship needs. Thanks to good user ettiquette aided by a partnership with the Adirondack Mountain Club (which coordinates a lean-to adopter program), the sites were generally in good shape. I did note an outhouse “at capacity,” an eroded access at another, and obtained more accurate GIS data on the campsite locations to aid future users.
Approaching the main lake, I appreciated the calm waters of the day. I can imagine the paddling conditions would be trying with a strong westerly wind. As we turned and headed back to the launch, we ran into a couple embarked on an overnight trip, who were happy to hear they would have their choice of a campsite. A nice benefit of fall paddling along the canoe trail!