Forum Replies Created
I paddled a kevlar Wenonah Minnesota II. @markaroberts 234 wrote:
We are evaluating kevlar vs royalex canoes. We have kevlar ourselves, but have decided to rent when we get there and not trailer ours up. If I understand correctly, the only two portages that cannot be wheeled are the last two on Raquette River? What is the carry like there? Would you opt for the much lighter kevlar boats? Our experience in Boundary waters with kevlar Minnesota II’s is that they are faster then the royalex canoes as well. What have you guys paddled? What are those last two portages like to carry?
I agree. No reason not to use kevlar on this section.
@Chris Gill 235 wrote:
Both are rocky, rooted trails. The Buttermilk falls Carry is very short and the next one is about .4 miles if I remember correctly? I would opt for the kevlar boats.
Looks like you have 2009 Gil Whitney beat by 1 year. I think he’s the oldest documented TP.
@Kalmia 230 wrote:
We left a vehicle at the DEC boat launch in Long Lake. That worked for us. [ATTACH=CONFIG]30[/ATTACH] Here’s a typical lean-to: I think they are a cozy option in wet weather. If there is a picnic table I’ll use it for cooking. Lean-tos do usually have an outhouse nearby. – k
You beat me to the response! I agree, very cozy 🙂
I can’t answer the parking question for you and I don’t think you can hang a hammock, at least not easily inside a lean-to. The lean-tos are in forested areas so you should be able to use hammocks regardless.
As far as lean-tos go–I find them novel and quite nice if it’s raining. Sometimes there are camp journals left in them you can read and add to. You get to sleep in the open with a roof. Of course if it is buggy, then they aren’t nearly as nice to sleep in. They have wooden platforms and you just lay down your thermorest (if you old like me) and sleeping bag. Fireplaces are in the front open end–and are pretty similar to what you’d find in the BWCA. Sometimes there are grills for them too. Like the BWCA there are “Minnesota Johns” or outhouses–you shouldn’t have to dig any cat holes. Upper Saranac Lake Campground even furnished toilet paper in the outhouses. Such luxury! But alas, no showers. And yes, no potable water. I did take water out of these lakes and boiled it when making dinner, but I pumped all my drinking water. Some, but not all, have picnic tables. I’ve set up my campstove on the edge of the lean-to to cook when its been raining and I do hang all my food well away from the sites.
For me the unpacking part just means loading up your canoe, paddling a short distance, then unloading to do a portage so soon–even if its wheelable. You still have to take everything out to strap on the wheels. Speaking of which, stern carts are a big pain and not dependable for carrying any weight. Here’s a link to a paddler from last year who didn’t get very far using one of those models. http://nfct2012.blogspot.com/2012/06/catastrophic-failure.html Low kayak carts or the bigger bicycle wheel type carts that you center under your canoe and cinch straps around are the best solution. Still, you’ll need to figure out the balance point. Regardless, I carried a bag even when leaving the second bag and the paddles, etc. in it while wheeling. There’s a trick to it and I still think it can be easier to shoulder the boat–unless distances are super long. I’m a BWCAW paddler too–and never even used wheels until the NFCT. There are several carries following roads where wheels could easily be used if you have them, but aren’t necessary unless the distance is an issue. Some as you are probably aware, are pretty long–1 mile or more. The portage around Buttermilk Falls and the last portage into Long Lake will remind you of BWCA portages–they are rooty and rocky and wheels are useless.
It seems early enough that you shouldn’t have to worry about a campground reservation and certainly not a two-night minimum before Memorial Day weekend. But I don’t live there, so I’m not 100% positive. Perhaps someone else can weigh in on that. Through-Paddlers certainly don’t think about that!
If you are not like Chris 😉 and don’t care about when you portage, there are also some really nice lean-tos on 7th lake before reaching 8th Lake Campground, one is on the island opposite the campground beach/boat landing. Yeah, you’ll have to load and unload right away, then portage, but if you are worried about camping reservations, know that you have this option (and the lean-tos on 8th lake as Chris pointed out.) Unless you REALLY want to stay in a campground, I’d definitely urge you to consider camping in the lean-to.
The Forked Lake Campground Road portage to the Raquette River seemed long to me (both times I’ve wheeled it), maybe because it was early in the trip. It actually isn’t very bad comparably. It’s a flat road. I’d agree with Chris’s suggestion on the stopping point for that reason–it might be better to get that much closer to Long Lake. My feeling, though, is that that Lean-To is VERY used and right along the portage trail. Again, if portaging first thing in the morning isn’t a big deal, camping on Forked Lake is nice. It’s a very pretty lake and I personally love any “campground” in which one can only boat up to the site. If you do decide to stay on Forked Lake, know that the free primitive NFCT campsite shown on the map adjacent to the stream is actually closer to the dark green area denoting the State Park Boundary. When you start seeing numbered campsites you are now in the State Park campground and have to pay for the site–which you can do by going to the Ranger Station to register, if it is even staffed this early in the year. Unless it is opening fishing weekend there or some other reason why the campground would be full, I can’t imagine you having any problem just showing up and getting a site the same day.
If you think about getting farther, like heading to the Deerland lean-to at the end of the last portage when the river flows into Long Lake, don’t. Unless that lean-to has been fixed, it was rather beat-up–and I thought this area was buggy and wet passing through it. Forked Lake is MUCH prettier! If you don’t camp at the state park campground on this trip, think about it for your next trip when you pass through the Saranacs. Also beautiful lakes and sites.
As far as the shuttle goes, that unfortunately sounds about right. I used St. Regis and I think it was around that price. There wasn’t much of a difference for gear. It’s still a vehicle and one person’s time driving both ways (even though you are only headed in one direction.)
Have a great trip!
I stopped for lunch at Daikers (a bar/grill) on Fourth Lake after launching around 10 am from Old Forge last year along the north shore about 1/3 of way onto the Lake. There are docks were you can tie up, but there are no signs from the water indicating that a restaurant is there. (Two-story log cabin sided building with a deck and tell-tale table umbrellas.) Inlet has several restaurants, but I only stopped for ice-cream there. The Raquette Lake Tavern is a nice stop any time of the day (especially if you are doing a pub-crawl by canoe!) We had steamed clams and a beer there waiting out a thunderstorm just after emerging from Brown’s Tract. The tavern is in the same building as the general store, on the back side. They may have burgers too. Nothing (I think) after that until Long Lake–where again there are several options, some closer to the water than others. The Adirondack Inn is across the street from the beach–another pub and restaurant. After Long Lake, your next gastronomic option isn’t until the village of Saranac Lake–lots of places there. I like the Blue Moon Cafe, but you’ll have the car by then and able to
We stayed in a motel the night before launching (softies!) and used St. Regis for shuttling from Old Forge to Saranac Lake. Left the car in Old Forge at the parking lot across from the snowmobile bridge (the visitor center will tell you where to park and leave a note in the window) and St. Regis picked it up and brought it to their place. (Had to send keys ahead of time with the payment.) We paddled to the car which meant we didn’t need to worry about meeting anyone at a specific time.
@markaroberts 199 wrote:
thanks for your input. When the site went down last year, I lost all the comments. If I am reading your correctly, if we can only paddle 3-4 days we should look at just section 1? I’ll stick with the May 18 dates. Also will check out the campgrounds. We typically hammock. We also filter our own water so that won’t be an issue. Thanks again. Will check out your blog.
Would definitely be REALLY pushing it to get to Saranac Lake in three or even four days. Map 1 only to Long Lake would be about right. If you did feel like going a bit farther you could also take out at Axton Landing at the end of the Raquette River section–another 22.5 miles. But alas, no restaurants in this stretch! And a rather long portage midway.
FYI–Both times I paddled to the village of Long Lake, it was in the afternoon and I had head winds.
I think there were a string of replies to this question last year before the site went down–or has your question mysteriously reappeared again???
I repaddled Maps 1 and 2 last summer and did it in a more leisurely 6 vs. 3.5 days. I posted trip reports on my blog. http://www.kdaanen-nfct.blogspot.com
I’d say 4-5 days would be the slowest pace for doing section 1. 3 would still be pushing it.
I’d definitely plan on doing some cooking. There are places to eat up until Raquette Lake (on Fourth Lake and Inlet, and again at Raquette) but after leaving the hamlet of Raquette Lake at the west end of the lake, there aren’t any restaurants again until the village Long Lake, then nothing until the town Saranac Lake. There are lots of lean to options. I like them if they aren’t buggy. At this time of year though, the nights could still be cold and a tent would keep you warmer. I think the campsites on Forked, Middle and Lower Saranac Lake are spectacular, but require reservations (at least in summer. Not sure about the pre-Memorial Day policy.) Check out ReserveAmerica.com for rules. I also really liked staying at Tioga Point on Raquette Lake. You should be able to show up there without a reservation and get a site. There is no well-water at Tioga, but there is by the Forked Lake Ranger Station.
Unless you have bad weather or wind, you should be able to reach the lean-tos or camping on Seventh Lake on Day 1. The first lean-to on top of a small cliff is the nicer of the two on the north shore. Otherwise Alger Island, another state owned campground on Fourth Lake, is your other option. Day 2 to Tioga point or if you are pushing it, Forked Lake campground.
Maps 1 and 2 include some of my favorite sections of the NFCT, primarily for their scenic beauty and camping, but the Fulton Chain can be crazy busy with motors in summer. I do think April might still be really cold for camping–maybe even ice still on the lakes??? and some restaurants not open yet.
Good luck and post a trip report!
If you are an experienced hammock camper, I don’t think you’ll have any issues. Chris Gill sometimes uses a hammock and has sectionally paddled most of the trail. I’m sure he’ll have more to say.http://gilltrips.blogspot.com/2008/08/nfct-old-forge-to-long-lake.html
I used Susan from the Stratton Motel for a two shuttles: Dropping us off in Errol and leaving our car in Stratton, and then she picked up a friend of mine at the Bangor Airport and dropped her back in Stratton to pick up my car and meet me farther along the trail. It wasn’t cheap, but it got my car from point D to point E for me.
Pelletiers near Fort Kent, shuttles cars into the Allagash.
We carried everything on this portage, but for some reason, it didn’t feel as long as the mileage indicates, even with the steep uphill part right at the beginning. The landing was a bit tight when we arrived and there were four other canoes parked there ahead of us. We arrived at the first lean-to just as a storm was hitting. I thought we had another 1/2 mile or so yet to go, based on where the symbol is indicated on the map, but it we were just about at the put-in. This portage was very similar to what you experience in the BWCA–actually what I generally expected! The Rapids River Carry Road on maps 8 and 9 are similarly as boney. Sort of wheelable in places (or enough to tease you), but very rocky until you get closer to Forest Home.
Maps 1 and 2 (the Saranacs) came immediately to mind to me too, but this section has the highest concentration of portages, but the camping opportunities are outstanding and the terrain interesting (you’d could have lakes and easy rivers, and view the ocassional waterfall (from the portage trails.)
Another section that might be nice is on Map 8, starting on Lower Richardson to Rangeley–if you like lakes. There are only two portages, one short and historically interesting and the other longer, but along a road (ice cream stop in Oquossoc). Wheels will be appreciated as I think it was a .75 – 1.25 mile walk. You may even be able to bum a ride from Haines Landing–its a popular resort area. However, these are big lakes with the possibility of wind.
You MUST register for campsites in this whole section. The Richardson’s have lots of beautiful options (Chris Gill can advise on the best beach sites) and you can end at Rangeley State Park (hot showers!) if you like.
The West Branch Penosbscot trip would also be a nice family trip–no portaging at all!