Saint Regis Canoe Area offers peace and quiet worth the wait


There are special places in the Adirondacks where you can get away from the modern world and find yourself surrounded by nature and away from motors – be it cars or boats.

Many hiking trails offer this kind of calm, but motor-free lakes and car-free places to ride bikes are harder to find.

A recent weekend with friends brought me back to the Saint Regis Canoe area, an 18,400-acre wilderness in Franklin County with 50 lakes, multiple backcountry camping opportunities, and no boats. motor is not allowed. Carries – footpaths between lakes and ponds – allow paddlers to link bodies of water together for longer trips.

Large, puffy white clouds drifted across the sky and reflected off the surface of Floodwood Pond as we started our paddle. We were on our annual “girls weekend”, heading off for another outdoor adventure, away from work and family worries for a few precious days. We were technically not in the canoe area – Floodwood Pond and several other lakes and ponds are just south of the designated acres, but they are also motorless and provide peaceful paddling.

It was a scorching weekend, even in the Adirondacks, and underneath my personal flotation device, my shirt was quickly drenched in sweat. Reluctant to commit to paddling a loop through Cooperas, Whey, and Rollins ponds—a trip that would require multiple portages or hauls—we instead stayed at Fish Creek, taking it nearly to Square Pond before turning halfway. round. The hum of motorboats ahead of us on Square and Fish Creek ponds made it an easy decision; the closer we got and the louder the engines, the more stressed I became and the less I wanted to continue. My least favorite experience in any canoe or kayak is being rocked by the wake of a motorboat or jet ski.

The peaceful waters gave us a spectacle full of nature. We were treated to the sight of loons fishing on the calm surface of the water, as well as mergansers paddling close to shore. A kingfisher let out its distinctive, chattering call somewhere in the trees as it waited to dive after an unsuspecting fish below.

Our trip was originally planned as a multi-day getaway on the Adirondack Rail Trail from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid. But we had taken the plunge: although the trail has been approved and work has begun, it is not finished and some parts are still very difficult and impassable. My family succeeded last year. But did my friends and I want to rent mountain bikes and possibly ride long sections? No we do not have. Instead, we settled on a more low-key weekend.

Despite our disappointment with the rail trail, we brought our bikes on the trip and took a ride on one of the local side roads. The Adirondack Rail Trail will fill a gap in the Adirondacks’ biking options, providing a scenic route through miles of wilderness on a family-friendly (non-motorized) trail. The TOBIE trail in the Old Forge area offers an alternative that I explored with my friends last year. But we couldn’t find any other off-road options in the Saranac Lake area where we were staying, so we tried a low-traffic local route instead, down Keeses Mill Road from Route 30 at Paul Smiths . The road leads to the St. Regis Mountain Trailhead and runs for a few miles along a border of the St. Regis Canoe Area, with the St. Regis River across the road. We cycled about seven miles to where the road turns into Blue Mountain Road. There were some great views along the way, but nothing compared to the open expanses the rail trail will provide.

Our weekend was full of “remember when”. “Remember our trip to….” “Remember that big canvas tent we had at Lake Lewey? This year, no one brought up the time I locked Heather’s keys in the trunk of her car at Wind Cave State Park in South Dakota when the nearest AAA help was more than a mile away. two hours drive. I thought about it anyway, even though it happened over 25 years ago.

I also remembered the trips I took with my husband to the boating area and the many lakes and ponds we have yet to explore. We’ll be back – with bikes for the rail trail when it’s finally done one day, and with the canoe for more paddling and camping. The peace and quiet are well worth the wait.

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