Saranac River: Trail Rapids

Another section of rapids on the Saranac River, immediately below Union Falls Dam, is paddled by very few people, mainly due to low water levels in the summer and the technical nature of its non-stop features during spring freshet. Though short, this stretch is sure to give you a run for your money due to irregular waves and river-wide holes. It would certainly thrill the local whitewater community to have a stretch of whitewater similar to this that could run throughout the paddling season.

Trail Rapids can be found after paddling a few miles of flatwater below the power station and dam. During higher flows, this section is simply swift water and rolling waves, as many of the features become washed out. Although some paddlers have taken this section for granted, each portion of this approximately mile-long stretch of rapids – broken up by some flatwater – should be approached with caution. In the summer months, many large rocks lie just below the water’s surface, making it a technical boulder garden. Due to the remoteness of this stretch of river, capsizing here can have more consequences than other stretches along the river that run beside state Route 3, a well used road.

One important thing to keep in mind when paddling Trail Rapids is that the Casey Road Portage is near the end of it on river left. Though marked as clearly as possible, this portage is still easy to miss if you are not paying attention, as it begins in a small bay with swiftwater both upstream and down. Be sure to take out here if you are not comfortable paddling the class III+ and IV rapids that lie a few miles below Silver Lake Road bridge.

Trip Details

  • Services:
    • Saranac River: Trail Rapids
  • Trail Features