Adirondack Fun: Paddle on the Saranac River

There is really nothing like a canoe trip to really bring out the strengths and weaknesses in a family. It requires balance; strength and teamwork some of which we are sometimes in short supply.

As we transition from winter sports to summer fun our organization skills are put to the test. The children have outgrown their life jackets and the weather can’t decide whether to snow or rain. The bug spray has to be found along with my very attractive bug netting. Citronella wafts around us like a cloud sparking memories of spring.

We have decided to take two cars and leave one at the end of our destination so we will only be going downstream. We are not equipped to go over the permanent rapids and decide a portage isn’t in the cards for this short outing. We start just north of the Village of Saranac Lake and spend a few moments going over the rules of the river. It may seem like common sense but my children always need to be reminded not to stand up in a canoe.

The current is swift and the river is high. It isn’t flood stage so we are able to see signs of erosion along the bank from the sculpting forces of the water. Bugs are plentiful for anyone under the misconception that the recent snow would decrease the insect population. We are just guiding ourselves along with little effort. The children take turns paddling but each is just as eager to look for signs of wildlife. A muskrat warns us off and we are startled by a herd of deer. They blend in so well that we only notice them when the herd turned under the row of nearby branches.

Geese and mallards squawk and dance along the water in an attempt to lead us away from shoreline nests. We are even guided by a pair of sandpipers that skim along our bow like dolphins, seemingly clearing a path free of bugs just for us. We are all excited to see so many different things that we sometimes can’t contain the shouts and thrills of finding an animal in the wild. I try to turn down the volume but not curb my children’s enthusiasm though I am just as guilty of eagerly pointing to a new flicker on the water.

There are various places to put in a canoe along the Saranac River as long as you are mindful of private property. If you are unsure of what is private and what is public, the Adirondack Paddlers Map is a great resource. It clearly highlights private and public land.


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