blackdogfish

Anyone have experience kayaking Middle Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks?

21 posts in this topic

Posted (edited) · Report post

Planning a Labor Day weekend trip.  The area seems really awesome but there's surprisingly little info on how to access and parking.  South Creek put-in and there's really limited parking there?

 

Also- Although I have car-camped and backpacked a lot, I have never kayak camped and I'm interested in any tips about how to pack, etc.  Assume darn near everything goes into dry bags and you stash them above or below deck wherever you can.  Just seems that on two SOT kayaks and one SIK, there wont be enough cargo space for tent, sleeping bags, cooler, food, stove, fishing gear, clothes, and water. I'm envisioning kayaks piled high ala Ma & Pa Kettle or Beverly Hillbillies.

Edited by blackdogfish

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joe, we haven't done Saranac,  but had a great 3 day trip last year on Lows lake, virtually no power boat traffic allowed there, lots of free water access only campsites. We had a 15 ft canoe and 2 SOT for 4, and cargo space was no problem, we could have put way more in the SOTs. Drybags are great if you have enough, garbage bags will work in a pinch, on the long distance canoe trips I did as a kid most of us only had a duffle with garbage bags.

 

For some of your issues: 

Get a water filter or purification tabs for your drinking water, cooking water is boiled, no worries.

Backpacker stove or fire for cooking, leave the big Coleman home.

Small soft cooler or better yet take non-refrigeration items only or stuff that can survive a few days like hard salami and cheeses. Takes a bit a planning, but pretty easy.

No bulky cotton clothes, keep it minimal to noncotton pants & 2 shirts, raingear and a fleece.

You should have no problem with tents & bags as long as it's not a cabin tent!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 mins ago, gellfex said:

Joe, we haven't done Saranac,  but had a great 3 day trip last year on Lows lake, virtually no power boat traffic allowed there, lots of free water access only campsites. We had a 15 ft canoe and 2 SOT for 4, and cargo space was no problem, we could have put way more in the SOTs. Drybags are great if you have enough, garbage bags will work in a pinch, on the long distance canoe trips I did as a kid most of us only had a duffle with garbage bags.

 

For some of your issues: 

Get a water filter or purification tabs for your drinking water, cooking water is boiled, no worries.

Backpacker stove or fire for cooking, leave the big Coleman home.

Small soft cooler or better yet take non-refrigeration items only or stuff that can survive a few days like hard salami and cheeses. Takes a bit a planning, but pretty easy.

No bulky cotton clothes, keep it minimal to noncotton pants & 2 shirts, raingear and a fleece.

You should have no problem with tents & bags as long as it's not a cabin tent!

Very good tips, thanks Jon.  I may PM you with more questions as the date gets closer.  Just ordered one of the Platypus water filtration systems.  I'll check out Lows Lake for a spring trip. Super excited to do this with family for first time. Was out last night with my wife- first time we ever kayaked together.  Super cool.  Same place we are at last year.  My son really enjoys it too.  

 

the interesting problem now is getting three kayaks on top of the Rav4!  (well- and borrowing the third one)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds exciting if you guys are not very experienced together! Last year it was only my daughter who had never canoe camped. My wife had done the Boundary Waters as a teen, and my son had done several long trips with the Scouts.

 

Couple more suggestions if this is so new. Bring a big grate for the fire, I use a rack from a deceased range. Also bring a good folding saw and a hatchet for firewood. Check out 'Coghlan's Folding Saw'. It's better than the Svensaw.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I take my yak to Ampersand bay on middle lake every spring. The yak is perfect for Pike in the inlets, and smallies along the shorelines. Here is a pic of a good 3 yak setup. Bring bug spray and a headnet!

405DE13E-3DBD-4ED9-B450-5F7C31502DD9.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, cheech said:

Bring bug spray and a headnet!

Labor day is much different than the spring, wasn't bad at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

South Creek is the only put in and parking close to Middle Saranac.  There are other put ins at lakes and ponds east and west of Middle Saranac but they may require a portage, and some are really isolated and I would not leave my car there.  Go to northernforestcanoetrail.org, under Plan A Trip--Trip Planner there is a good map (section 2) you can use to see put ins, campsites and campgrounds, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used to go up to Middle Saranac regularly in the spring to pike fish.  (There are some NICE fish in there.) It's a pretty cool place in April when it's not snowing or the bugs arn't carrying you away :-) .  Anyway here is my 2 cents. 

Yes there is only the one " official" access for put in's in Lower Saranac. Parking is limited but we never had a problem finding someplace to stuff the truck and trailer. If you look at a map, there are a couple of camp sites that are not more than 500 yds from Route 3. We had one member of our group park along the route for a couple of days and walk in. I've herd (but not done) that the feeder stream that crosses rt 3 can be paddled to the lake as well but it looked tight to me even in the spring when the water was up. . 

Middle Saranac is cool in that it is remote. There realy is limited access and very few people who bother to go up there. Not allot of camp sites and they are spread maybe 1/4 mile apart. It will take you a good hour and half to paddle from the put upstream to Middle saranac. More if it's windy and  or your loaded down. There is a self operated Lock system you'll need to go through to get into middle saranac. Very cool in itself! 

The problem with middle saranac is that it is remote!  You need to pack in EVERYTHING you need for your stay there. That means water (or water filter) , food, clothes, gear , TP, fuel, beer, steaks, lobsters.........etc.  Full disclosure, we used to load up a 16' power boat and load it up like a container ship with provisions and just tow in canoes. ) If you can borrow a tin boat with an outboard, you might consider dong the same. If your going to paddle in your likely going to have to leave some of the nicities home (or at least in the truck)

If you need to replenish anything, it's going to be a good 1/2 day shot paddling to the put in, getting the truck and drivign to the next town to shop and then reversing the process.  (The shortcut to rt 3 saved us a few times.) 

 

A note of Fishing/ Boating. So personally I like Lower Saranac better.  The campsites are a closer and it see's more boats/people but there are allot more islands , coves and structure to fish (and hide behind when the wind rips down the lake.) It's also an hour closer to the car :-)

 

In any case, your going to have a great experience that you will remember for years! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just kayaked through there with the scouts a month or so ago.  We camped two days on middle Saranac. Started on small ponds, threaded our way into upper Saranac, portages to middle, then took the lock into lower Saranac.  It was great. 

 

You have plenty of room in three kayaks if you pack right. We took compact sleeping bags, one tent for every three people (two of us used camping hammocks), pocket rocket type stoves with small fuel canisters.   We have lanterns that fit those canisters too, but we’re usually going to bed shortly after dark anyway. 

 

Food: we brought one small cooler and resupplied from a base cooler in a car we left parked within walking distance from camp on Middle Saranac.  Some food idea. For the cooler:

 

make a mac Mac and cheese casserole and freeze it in a ziplock bag.  Makes a

good ice block and will still be good for dinner the second night.  Precook kielbasa or sausage to go with it.   It keeps better and is easier to reheat than fully cook. 

 

Crack eggs, beat, and bring in a water bottle or Nalgene, frozen. Precook bacon or bring heat and eat sausage (frozen).  

 

Cheese and crackers with dried sausage (like sopresat) and fruit for lunch. Hummus and chips 

 

tuna and chicken come in foil pouches. Easy protein, mayo in a small squirt bottle if you want it.  Pita bread travels well, as so some other flatbreads readily available in the local grocery.  

 

Falafel mix just needs water.  tatziki sauce fits in that little cooler. 

 

Google thanksgiving in in a bag.  Mashed potato flakes, dried cranberries, instant stuffing.......  odd but weirdly satisfying in many ways. 

 

Pasta with jarred sauce.   Order a little a a small packet of “beefish bits” (textures vegetable protein from a soy base).  No refrigeration needed.  Bring a tube of minced garlic paste from the Italian section of the grocery store.  

 

Vegetarian chili, again with beefish bits. Cooked beans are available in pouch. Mix spices ahead and bring in a ziplock.  

 

I could continue........

 

there are are a few really good books and maps for paddling the adirondacks too.   

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Coming to the end of that part of my life my friend.  Done with school and heading into my last year with the Scouts.  Happy to share the info with others. :)

 

planning to to go back to that area, probably next year. 

1 hour ago, Africaster said:

Looks like a “Lifetime of Memories” right there Ed, good on you mate :th:

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the middle lock, looking towards upper lake. Lock tender Margaret, the well known ‘lady of the locks’ will swing the doors for you. 

 

C8CEB9C1-7170-4BDE-8439-ECC261F2056E.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So how is the fishing there? I fished saranac lake from the bank for about 20 min 25 years ago. Caught a nice pike. I always wondered about what it would be like to fish that lake from a kayak

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only fished it early season so my experience may/may not be representitive. We always found fishing to be pretty good..... until it wasn't . When it "wasn't", it was usually weather dependant. I can tell you there are NO shortage of healthy fish.   We would target Largemouth, Smallmouth and Pike  but would always get a significant bicatch of rock bass  and chubs. Great place for a fly rod!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to register here in order to participate.

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.