‘Round the Mountain Anytime

Racers line up for the start of the ‘Round the Mountain Canoe & Kayak Race.

I was in Saranac Lake last spring preparing to host 100 plus people in the ‘Round the Mountain Canoe & Kayak Race. I only had one bit of anxiety: I had never paddled the course! Being in charge of that many people without really knowing where I was sending them made me nervous! But it was a beautiful Friday afternoon, and I had no reason to sit indoors when I might be paddling. So I borrowed my friend’s pack boat and drove to Ampersand Bay Resort where I plunked myself into the water and paddled south towards Eagle Island.

The view down Lower Saranac Lake is long and inviting with the mountains in the background. The route is comfortable though, hugging the eastern shore all the way to the entrance to First Pond by Bluff Island, about 3 miles.

Here, tuck into the channel that passes the Route 3 NYS DEC Boat Launch. This is the last public access until you reach Lake Flower. The Saranac River continues twisting and winding to the Lower Locks, about 3.5 miles. There is a marked channel through here for motor boats. Paddlers can find their own way, but be alert for the rocks and shallows that can bar progress. Once you reach the Locks, you can choose to paddle through the lock mechanism or portage around on river-right.

After the lock the river empties out onto Lake Oseetah, another beautiful little lake surrounded by mountains. You can choose to paddle through the marked channel, or head northeast directly towards the next narrows of the Saranac River. If you choose to go straight across, beware of the stumps just under water in some places left from the flooding of this waterway. Lake Flower follows Oseetah and the shores become progressively more populated as the Village of Saranac Lake approaches.

Take out at the Lake Flower NYS DEC Boat Launch adjacent to Riverfront Park. If you have a second vehicle for your shuttle, this would be a good place to leave it. However, if you are solo and on foot, like I was, you can take out to the left of the dam at the northwest end of the lake. This will put you only 1.5 miles from the put-in. Follow Main Street south (left) and turn west (right) on Lake Street. Follow Lake Street for about a mile and turn north (right) on Edgewood Road across Route 3 until you reach Bayside Drive on the left, which will take you right back to Ampersand Bay Resort.

This is a very tidy, and very beautiful, 10-mile trip, complete with stunning wild landscapes, historic artifacts and the charming community of Saranac Lake.