Meet Mike Lynch, Northern Forest Canoe Trail’s New York Outreach Coordinator

Mike Lynch joined the Northern Forest Canoe Trail staff part-time in December 2015, but he has been a volunteer, and photographed and written articles about the trail for several years. Mike through paddled the entire trail in 2011 and has spent many years writing extensively about outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks. He will lead NFCT efforts to work more closely with the communities along the trail in New York. Mike can be contacted about the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in New York at [email protected] or 518-524-4770. 

Mike in Fort Kent, Maine at the end of his NFCT through paddle in 2011.

Where were you born?
I grew up in Croton on Hudson in the Hudson Valley. The village is known for its large Metro-North train station on the Hudson River. Five generations of Lynches have worked for that railroad, including my dad who was an engineer. Growing up, I spent a lot of time riding the train, looking out the window at the massive river.

Where do you live now?
I live in Saranac Lake, where I’ve been for 10 years. Growing up, I would visit my aunt and uncle on Upper Chateaugay Lake in the northern Adirondacks, about 45 minutes north of the village. During those visits, I grew an affinity for being outdoors in the Northern Forest. The highlight of those visits was fishing for brook trout in nearby small streams or larger trout on the lake. Those experiences eventually brought me back to the Adirondacks. I settled in Saranac Lake because I got a writing job at the local newspaper. Saranac Lake fits me perfectly because it has a nice complement of lakes, ponds, streams and mountains nearby. I explore them by skiing, hiking, and paddling, often with a camera in tow.

Earliest memory of paddling:
Some of my first memories in a canoe were on the Hudson River. Our family had an aluminum Grumman canoe that we would take out on the river in August to catch blue claw crabs. My family also used the canoe to get to the south end of Upper Chateaugay Lake, where we would fish for brook trout. Actually, those trips on Chateaugay were good experience for through paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail because they included crossing a large lake and then going up a small winding stream loaded with beaver dams. The trip offered a bit of everything. I started paddling more consistently when I worked at Mac’s Canoe Livery in Lake Clear about 10 years ago. That was a great experience and allowed me to try out a variety of boats and interact with all kinds of paddlers.

Most memorable paddling experience:
My most memorable paddling experience took place on Churchill Lake on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in northern Maine during my through paddle in 2011. After an intense three-hour thunder and lightning storm, my wife Ariel and I were paddling toward Churchill Dam when we encountered two loons, an eagle, a family of river otters, a dozen Canada geese and a moose with its calf, all in one area. It was as if they all came out after the storm.

Favorite place to paddle:
The waterways of the Northern Adirondacks. It’s hard to choose one. I like to explore new places, so I’d say my favorite is always the next place I’m headed.

Favorite place on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail:
OverviewNY~2My favorite trip on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in the Adirondacks is to go from the hamlet of Long Lake to Axton Landing on the Raquette River. I’ve done this as a daytrip, a camping trip, and as a race during the 90-Miler. I particularly like the stretch on the Raquette River from Cold River to Raquette Falls.

Go-to food, drink or item to bring on a paddling trip:
I don’t know if I have a favorite camping food, but I guess I would say mac and cheese because of its simplicity. As for drinks, I almost always stick to water during the day and green tea in the morning. A beer after a hard day of padding is always good. My favorite item is the map in my pocket.

Aspirations for Northern Forest Canoe Trail in New York:
I’d like to develop a network of volunteers that could be instrumental in supporting paddling in the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain region. I’d also like to develop programming that connects people to paddling traditions and helps people improve their skills as paddlers and explorers.

Upcoming NFCT events or initiatives you are most excited about:
The Freshet Paddling Festival in Saranac Lake this spring is going to be a lot of fun. So far, local guides and outfitters have shown a great interest in the event. Stay tuned as we finalize a date.

Anything else you want to add?
One of the prime reasons I enjoy paddling is that it gives you a great opportunity to view wildlife. You hardly ever seen animals when hiking, but that’s not the case when you’re on the water.


The Northern Forest Canoe Trail outreach coordinator positions are funded this year in part thanks to the Betterment Fund, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Ferguson Foundation, H. King and Jean Cummings Charitable Fund, Horizon Foundation, L.L.Bean and Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

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