Saranac River: Silver Lake to Clayburg

Starting under Silver Lake Road bridge and into a very challenging section of the Saranac River. After passing some small houses on river right and left, you will arrive at Teft Pond Falls, a solid class IV waterfall that should only be run by expert whitewater boaters with proper equipment. The land on either side is private and posted, so scouting becomes challenging without permission. Be aware that this waterfall is split in two by a large island immediately below the falls. The left channel is quite friendly in proper levels, and makes for an exciting 10 foot sliding drop with a soft landing for expert whitewater paddlers. The right line, however, has been choked with wood for several years. It would take another Tropical Storm Irene or some serious and dangerous chainsaw work to make this side safely runnable. Paddlers can avoid Teft Pond Falls by portaging to the left on the unmaintained trail.

Once beyond Teft Pond Falls, the river remains a playful class II+ to III, with more technical maneuvering required at lower levels due to the large number of rocks here. From here to Clayburg, there are only two significant river features of note. One is shortly after Teft Pond Falls, and consists of a short ledge with a decent hole on the bottom. This ledge appears as a horizon line until you’re just about on top of it. Scouting here is once again only possible on private land and is further complicated by large log jams on either side of the river. Immediately after this drop lie several large holes, especially at levels above 6 feet. I’ve personally taken a shin-banging swim here after effectively navigating everything upstream, so remain vigilant regardless of your skill or previous success.

The other river feature of note lies much closer to Clayburg. There are two possible options for running it, both of which are sliding-style ledges. River left is the easiest and most frequently run line, though river right can be exciting at higher levels. The two lines converge into a beautiful standing wave. In levels above 6 feet, this wave is ideal for surfing, and looks almost artificial due to its perfect shape. Scouting here remains on private land, though no posted signs currently exist.

Following this last drop the river continues with class II to II+ rapids most of the way to Clayburg. The takeout is on river left, just upstream from the confluence with the North Branch. Follow the small herd path uphill and back up to the road, and celebrate a successful run with your beverage of choice. If you need any food or drinks, Maplefields lies just down the road on Route 3, and offers a great variety of munchies, baked goods, and drink options.

It should be stressed that the portion of river from the Casey Road Portage (in the middle of Trail Rapids) to the Clayburg takeout is challenging, and I highly recommend that you refrain from attempting any portion of it with a loaded boat, or any craft that is not designed for whitewater and properly outfitted. Furthermore, this section is best run on levels above 4.5 feet (1400 cfs), with levels over 6 feet being the most fun. Many paddlers have damaged, lost, or destroyed their boats along this stretch. Be safe.

Trip Details

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    • Saranac River: Silver Lake to Clayburg
  • Trail Features