Advice on sections 2 and 3
January 2, 2014 at 12:50 am #131
Last May we did section 1 of the NFCT. Really enjoyed it and used a lot of the advice offered here as to places to eat and stop along the way. Main disappointment was the state parks. We are used to top of the line parks here in KY. The ones along section 1 didn’t even have most of the bathrooms functioning. If I had to do it over again. we would have stayed on one of the lean tos. We went third weekend in May. By the time we got to the second night, the black flies were out in full force. We stayed in our bug suits/hats.
Any advise on places to camp along the way on sections 2 and 3? Good places to stop and eat lunch? I noticed there are three long portages on section 2. What are they like?January 3, 2014 at 1:30 pm #296
The Indian Carry is mostly wheelable, if that matters to you. Pay attention to the map and when in doubt stay to the left as you paddle up Stony Creek, if you are travelling west to east. The Bartlet Carry is along a dirt road (with a bit of uphill) until you turn off the road near the end. The Raquette Falls carry can be a bit more rough and rocky. The Upper Locks are great fun – hand-operated miniatures of the huge locks around the Great Lakes, or the historic ones you have seen pictures of along the Erie Canal. I don’t believe there’s anywhere on this section to purchase a meal or even a beer, although there are a number of choices within walking distance of the takeout. The campsites I remember on the Saranac Lakes were pretty attractive. I know they are also quite in demand during the season. I’d make campsite reservations for the Saranac Lakes if I were doing that trip June-August. Others here might have more advice about that. We cancelled a long-planned trip the fourth weekend in May on Section Three last year as it was snowing, and the river was flooding well out of its banks, so I’d say that you got off easy if all you had were black flies!January 3, 2014 at 1:57 pm #297
Section Two can easily be combined with Section Three as far down the river as Union Falls. Canoe tripping below Union Falls Dam is trickier because it requires a combination of enough (but not too much) water, and reasonable skills and judgement at reading whitewater. The stretch from Union Falls to Clayburg gets portaged (a LONG walk!) by many through paddlers. From Clayburg to Plattsburg there are long stretches of easy splashy whitewater (aka ‘rock gardens’). Below Imperial Mills Dam in the town of Plattsburg the difficulty picks up a notch or two – and read the earlier thread for warnings about hazards created by cables strung across the river related to a public works project.January 3, 2014 at 9:35 pm #294
Last year there were five of us. . .three in one canoe, two in another. We started section 1 about 9:30 AM or so on a Friday. Were at the takeout at the end around 11:00 AM sunday. We stayed at eighth lake campground and at the state park campground on Forked Lake. This was May 17, 18, 19. First night temps were in the low 30’s. No bugs that Friday. Warmed up a lot Saturday and the black flies came in thick Saturday night at Forked lake. Had to wait to eat dinner until well after dark as we could not get out of our bug nets. Sunday we made great time as we got a ride on a group with an empty canoe trailer for the last portgage. Bugs were out, but manageable. As said before, we were disappointed only in the state parks. Most of the bathhouses were not even open and only one ranger available at each park. A lot of maintenance needed on those parks. Should have gone with the lean toos.
We have always opted for colder temps if it meant fewer bugs. Probably go the same time this spring. Are sections 2 and 3 doable in a three day trip? Where would you camp if you were doing both sections? We are used to moving water and rapids here in KY so that won’t be an issue. Also used to cold temps (lot of Boundary Waters trips).
for those that suggested eating places along section 1. . .big thanks!. the guys said that was a highlight of the trip to get to meet local people and check out the small towns along the way.January 5, 2014 at 1:27 am #298
Section Two can make a nice three day/ two night trip, with the first night on Long Lake or the Raquette River, and the second night on the Saranac Lakes somewhere. I’d think that would be about the same pace as your trip last year. Adding another couple of nights and ending the trip at Union Falls Dam would make a nice and varied extended trip. Paddling Section Three in two nights/ three days would be pretty ambitious. If you plan to paddle the lower Saranac River I would *highly* recommend that you first scout at least the section below Union Falls Dam. You can park at a fishing access area along Silver Lake Rd and walk in to view Stord Brook Rapids. The NFCT map includes the following information – “CAUTION: Class III-IV skills and appropriate equipment are required to paddle from Union Falls Dam to Clayburg”. If you left a vehicle at Union Falls or arranged for a shuttle from a local outfitter you could bypass that stretch of river and continue downstream from Clayburg. Many people have camped at the Baker’s Acres Campground – basically a small RV campground, but a nice one, with hot showers and a good attitude about the odd visitor by canoe. I also recall campable locations at the top of the High Falls Dam carry, and river left before the Treadwell Mills dam. I once saw a Red-necked Phalarope feeding on mayflies on Union Falls Pond near where I was camped at Bear Point, and that campsite has been a favorite memory ever since. – KalmiaJanuary 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm #295
so feeding this back. . .section two can easily be done in 3 days, but sections 2 and 3 together would be a 5-6 day trip? If we do just section two, where would you spend the two nights?January 8, 2014 at 12:28 am #299
For Sections One and Two many groups take a little more time or make allowance for the chance of being pinned down somewhere for a day by wind or thunderstorms, and do those sections as three night trips. I’ve paddled section two with a seven-year-old in the bow of my canoe, sleeping on Long Lake, the Raquette River, and Middle Saranac Lake, and felt like that was a reasonable schedule. On the other hand that seven-year-old grew up and last fall paddled from Old Forge to Saranac Lake (90 miles) in three days. But he was in a race and took no time to admire the sights… If I were planning a two night trip on Section Two, I would hope to get an early start to try to get up Long Lake during the calmer part of the day, and camp somewhere on the Raquette River the first night, and on Middle or Lower Saranac Lake the second night. Your group can decide what sorts of daily mileage you enjoy. Water levels in mid-May on the river can be low, or high, or in the middle, and water temperatures are still very cold. If you’ve not already read through some of the NFCT paddler blogs (http://www.northernforestcanoetrail.org/Paddler-2/Paddler-Blogs-73) you might find them useful as well. I am assuming you already have a copy of the NFCT maps? For a 5 to 6 day trip you could think about paddling Section Two, and Section Three as far as Union Falls (22 miles below the village of Saranac Lake). If you are thinking about paddling the rest of Section Two (42 miles from Union Falls to Plattsburg) I encourage you to scout that section before you paddle it, and have an alternate plan if conditions are not right for the trip. The nine miles of river immediately below Union Falls are difficult to paddle safely in an open canoe. – KJuly 9, 2018 at 8:05 am #9029
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