Featured Photo by Kacey O'Brien

 

kayaking travelogue [kay·ak·ing trav·el·ogue] noun: a piece of writing about kayaking experiences and places paddled.

Point your bow to these recommended lakes, ponds, and rivers. Start or add to your own kayaking travelogue. There is an abundance of freshwater in the Lake George Area that you have yet to explore!


Tips for Paddlers:

  • Always wear a Personal Floatation Device or PFD (a.k.a. life jacket), and wearing a helmet is strongly recommended for whitewater.

  • Research currents, depths, and water temperatures.

  • Understand the put-in and take-out process at every launch site.

  • Know your own abilities and hire a guide if necessary.

  • Get out of the water and find shelter if you hear thunder or see lighting.

  • Keep close to the shoreline in open channels for motorists to safely pass by.

  • Follow the principles of Leave No Trace.

  • Rinse watercraft after take-out to help protect our waters from invasive species.


Garnet Lake

Surface Area: 300+ acres

Average Depth: 25 to 30 ft.

Directions Public Boat Launch: Garnet Lake Public Boat Launch – 339 Maxam Road, Athol

Restrictions: parking for 5 cars, car-top boats only, hand launch

Paddle pristine Garnet Lake! This small lake is in the Town of Johnsburg, located in the northwest corner of the Lake George Area. Originally Mill Creek Pond, Garnet Lake was fed by Mill Creek and enlarged by a dam constructed in the 1850s for the purpose of logging. Less than half of the lake is developed with seasonal and year-round private camps, while the rest is state owned and wild, with primitive paddle-in campsites.

Set in the valley of three tall Adirondack peaks, Garnet Lake is ringed by Mount Blue to the west, Ross Mountain to the north, and the cliffs of Crane Mountain to the northeast. The irregular shoreline forms many coves to explore, and is especially scenic on a foggy morning. Pack your fishing pole and binoculars there have been plenty of fish and fowl spotted here, as well as the occasional bear and moose!

When your arms are sore from paddling and you need to stretch your legs, take one of two short hikes with trailheads originating from the shores of Garnet Lake. The Lizard Pond trail is isolated and only accessible by boat from these waters, whereas the Mud Pond trail begins at the Mud Pond Road Parking Area and is an out-and-back jaunt to Round Pond. Both hikes are approximately 5 miles round-trip.

A great alternative to primitive camping at paddle-in sites, is staying at Garnet Lake Cottages, with 600-ft. of lakefront. Each cottage rental comes with rowboats, kayaks, and pedal boats available for guest use.


Thirteenth Lake

Surface Area: 300+ acres

Average Depth: 20 ft.

Directions to Public Boat Launch: Thirteenth Lake Parking Lot – 122 Beach Road, Johnsburg

Restrictions: parking for 20 cars, 100-yard carry, hand launch, electric motors allowed

If you want to escape into the woods for a while, you’ll find almost complete seclusion at Thirteenth Lake. Also located in the Town of Johnsburg and surrounded by the Siamese Ponds Wilderness, Thirteenth Lake is great for solitary recreation.

There is little development in this area, aside from a handful of seasonal camps on the drive in via Beach Road and 13 primitive camping sites along the shoreline; three of which can only be accessed by paddlers.

These trophy waters are kept exceptionally clean, and great for fishing or swimming. Paddlers will also be able to point out mountains or access trailheads to Peaked Mountain or the Balm of Gilead Mountain. Listen closely, and you might hear the reverberating slap of a beaver tail .


Jabe Pond

Surface Area: 140+ acres

Average Depth: 30 ft.

Directions to Public Boat Launch: Jabe Pond Parking and Trailhead – Jabe Pond Road, Silver Bay

Open seasonally off the parking lot and trailhead is a rough jeep trail to access points farther around Jabe Pond. Vehicles equipped for off-roading with high clearance are recommended.

Restrictions: parking for 10 cars, car-top boats only, hand launch

Jabe Pond and nearby Little Jabe Pond are popular destinations for fellow paddlers that know about these isolated waters at the northern edge of the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Hague.

The early bird gets the worm – fisherman get to the trophy waters of Jabe Pond by sunrise for great trout fishing. Arriving in the morning also gives you greater opportunity to claim a one of several campsites or picnic spots and observe the loons that nest along the sheltered shoreline.

Paddling Jabe Pod will take you between several wooded islands. Be on the lookout for Chimney Island, with a stone chimney still standing along the remnants of a private camp that burned in the early 1900s.

More potential paddling can be found on Little Jabe Pond if you are willing and able to carry your boat. An unmarked trail leads away from the parking lot for an extra 0.3 miles to this smaller, more isolated pond.


Lake Luzerne

Surface Area: 110+ acres

Average Depth: 24 ft.

Directions to Public Boat Launch: Wayside Beach – 268 Lake Ave, Lake Luzerne

Restrictions: parking shared with school, 10 horsepower limit for boats, access to Ivy Island is off-limits

In the Town of Lake Luzerne there is adventure around every corner. Luzerne’s most leisurely adventures can be found on the lake of the same name. Locals get to enjoy serene Lake Luzerne year-round, but happily welcome visitors to its shores in the summer for some swimming, fishing, and paddling.

Wayside Beach offers a paved drive down to the water’s edge, where you can easily unload a kayak, canoe, or small boat. Paddle laps around photo-worthy Ivy Island or along the shoreline, waving at sunbathers and swimmers taking advantage of Lake Luzerne’s other public and private beaches. Along the banks to the southeast is Luzerne Music Center. Depending on the time of day, the sweet notes from the instruments of practicing campers might float to you across the lake as you paddle.

If you don’t own a kayak, but have the means to transport one, Sacandaga Outdoor Center offers first-rate rentals for reasonable prices that you can launch in Lake Luzerne.


Glen Lake

Surface Area: 320+ acres

Average Depth: 18ft.

Directions to Public Boat Launch: Glen Lake Canoe/Kayak Launch Site – 290 Glen Lake Road, Lake George

Restrictions: parking for 10 cars, car-top boats only, hand launch from dock, trailers prohibited, swimming prohibited

There is a reason why many choose to live year-round or spend their summers in private camps on Glen Lake. The picturesque shores here are residentially developed, leaving only one access to the lake for paddlers and a small fishing dock.

Year-round recreation can be found on Glen Lake from ice fishing in the winter to kayaking in the summer. The calm and wide-open waters are great for novice paddlers to practice their strokes or for amateur anglers to practice casting.

If you own watercraft and know you’ll be heading to Glen Lake all summer long, rent out a space on the storage racks here for your kayak, canoe, or SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard).

When you’ve had enough paddling and your stomach starts rumbling, load up the car and walk over to The Docksider, directly next door to the launch site. Enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner on the patio while fondly admiring the waters you just crossed.


Loon Lake

Surface Area: 590+ acres

Average Depth: 15 ft.

Directions to Public Boat Launch:

  • Loon Lake Public Access (navigate to this address for O.P. Frederick’s and Loon Lake Public Access is directly across the road) – 5064 NY-8, Chestertown
  • Loon Lake Public Beach5381 NY-9, Chestertown

Restrictions:

  • Loon Lake Public Access: parking for 6 cars, hand launch from dock
  • Loon Lake Public Beach: hand launch, nonmotorized vessels only

There are two ways to access tranquil, wishbone-shaped Loon Lake in the Town of Chester. Loon Lake Public Access on the southern end off Route 8 has two small docks, but kayakers and canoers are better off at Loon Lake Public Beach where they can hand launch their boats from shallower waters. Set up a picnic or go for a swim at the Public Beach before, after, or between kayaking outings.

The general speed limit for motorized boats on Loon Lake is 45 mph, so paddlers less comfortable in their wakes should stray no further than 200 feet from the shoreline.

Loon Lake Marina has “everything you need for a day on the water” including kayak and SUP daily rentals that are both lightweight and stable for your freshwater endeavors on Loon Lake.

With tired arms and restless legs, head to a Chester Challenge trailhead. Catch the opposite perspective and bird’s-eye view of Loon Lake from hikes up Kipp or Stewart Mountain.


Brant Lake

Surface Area: 1,300+ acres

Average Depth: 30 ft.

Directions to Public Boat Launch: Brant Lake Public Boat Launch – 6799 NY-8, Brant Lake

Restrictions: parking for 11 cars and trailers

During the past century, Brant Lake has transformed into an affluent destination with historic summer camps and magnificent vacation homes dotting the shore. Once a canal used exclusively for transporting logs and lumber, is now miles of crystal-clear water for boating, fishing, and swimming.

Wealthy visitors have been attracted to Brant Lake for its bountiful fishing since the early 20th century, and anglers heading out in a kayak or canoe for today’s catch might just find a bass on the end of their hook.

Paddlers are permitted a closer view of the fairytale white manor, complete with turret, on Schultz Island.

Brant Lake is nestled between glacial mountains, creating opportunities for all kinds of “on the water” recreation and other nearby activities. If you’re both a kayaker and a cyclist, this hamlet is your paradise. The calm waters of the lake are encircled by backcountry roads and mountain bike paths. Naturally, all routes lead from The Hub.


Schroon River

Length: 67 miles

Average Depth: water elevation varies due to Starbuckville Dam

Directions to Public Boat Launch:

  • Schroon Lake Waterway Access – County Route 62/Glendale Road, Adirondack
  • Warren County Canoe Access Site (East Schroon River) – 1874 E Schroon River Road, Warrensburg
  • Schroon River Canoe/Kayak Access at County Home Bridge – County Home Bridge, Diamond Point

Restrictions:

  • Schroon Lake Waterway Access: parking for 45 cars and trailers
  • Warren County Canoe Access Site (East Schroon River): parking for 10 cars, car-top boats only, hand launch, shared with Adirondack Safari campground
  • Schroon River Canoe/Kayak Access at County Home Bridge: parking for 5 cars, car-top boats only, hand launch

Beginning at the confluence of Crowfoot Brook and New Pond Brook, the Schroon River flows south through the Lake George Area and ends at its confluence with the Hudson River in Warrensburg. Flatwater, slow-moving currents, and rapids – the Schroon River has thrills for every paddler.

From Starbuckville Dam in Chestertown to Riverbank in Bolton Landing is a 7-mile stretch of whitewater that meanders through hardwood forests with little signs of civilization along the river banks. During this stretch you will encounter the Class II wave train dubbed “Racecourse”, and the infamous Class III “Big Drop” that can be mostly avoided by a technical sneak route to the right. Beware of melting snow in the spring and summer rainstorms that can raise the river level and intensify the rapids. Most of these rapids, not including the Big Drop, can be scouted from Schroon River Road.

To tackle this whitewater, start at the Schroon Lake Waterway Access about 5 miles above the Starbuckville Dam. Here the river is much deeper, being interrupted by Schroon Lake, and traveled by motorboats who are generally courteous to paddlers.

The other two access points listed above are at the end of the Schroon, where the river widens and becomes shallower. Kayakers and canoers will be able to see the pebbly bottom and schools of fish swimming by. Signs of civilization are more apparent along these sandy shores where paddlers can stop for a rest or a swim.

Planning a stay in the Lake George Area? Both Lake George Escape Campground and Adirondack Safari are located directly on the Schroon River and offer kayak rentals for guests.


Hudson River

Length: 315 miles

Average Depth: 4 ft. (through Warren County)

Directions to Public Boat Launch:

Restrictions:  

  • Hudson River Canoe/Kayak Access at Riparius: parking for 5 cars, car-top boats only, hand launch
  • Warren County Canoe Access at Thurman Station: pull-off parking, car-top boats only, hand launch
  • Warren County Canoe Access Site at The Glen: pull-off parking, car-top boats only, hand launch
  • North River Canoe Launch Sites (3): pull-off parking, car-top boats only, hand launch

Float your boat down the Hudson River. There are several sections of the mighty Hudson that can be accessed for kayak and canoe put-ins throughout the Lake George Area.

Starting at Lake Tear of the Clouds, the Hudson River meanders southward through the Adirondacks, Capital Region, and Hudson Valley, where it widens and flows into New York City before emptying into New York Harbor.

Here in the Lake George Area, the Hudson is clean, clear, slow-moving, and relatively shallow – so shallow at times that during a dry summer heat paddlers must get out to carry their kayaks or canoes over sandbars. However, with ice melts and spring showers, the water level is higher and the currents are stronger when paddling season begins. The banks in the Lake George Area are peppered with small town scenes, dense forests, and wildlife.

You will have to take-out well before reaching Rockwell Falls in Lake Luzerne – the narrowest point of the river. The Sacandaga River confluences with the Hudson from under the Old Bow Bridge in Hadley, where the falls spills into Tiosaronda Bay in Lake Luzerne.

With a beautiful piece of waterfront property, River Ridin’ at Elms Cottages & Lodge in Lake Luzerne rents out kayaks, SUPS, aqua cycles, pedal boats, and row boats for trips across the bay and back.

The 15-mile whitewater stretch of the Hudson River known as the “Grand Daddy” is farther north and out of our area, with Class III, IV, and V rapids. But, if you’re interested in whitewater rafting on the Sacandaga or lazy river tubing on the Hudson, click here to find our local outfitters that offer these excursions.


Glens Falls Feeder Canal

Length: 7 miles (5 miles accessible to paddlers)

Average Depth: 4 to 6 ft.

Directions to Public Boat Launch:

  • Feeder Dam & Overlook Park – Richardson Street/Haviland Avenue, Queensbury
  • Shermantown Road – Shermantown Road, Glens Falls
  • Martindale Boat Basin (*take-out) – Martindale Avenue, Hudson Falls

Click here for the canal & trail map.

Restrictions:

  • Feeder Dam & Overlook Park: parking for 10 cars, car-top carry, hand launch from dock
  • Shermantown Road: parking along Shermantown Road, car-top carry, hand launch from dock, 4ft. drop from dock to water
  • Martindale Boat Basin: parking for 5 cars, paddlers must take out here to avoid the locks

For over a century the Glens Falls Feeder Canal was a waterway used to transport canal boats carrying people and goods. Today, the Feeder Canal & Towpath Trail provides year-round recreational opportunities to southern Lake George Area communities and beyond into Washington County.

The Feeder Canal is ideal for kayaking and canoeing at a leisurely pace in conjunction with its gentle current. Over the course of 5 miles, you’ll pass under the Bush Street Bridge, around Pruyns Island, straight through Finch Paper’s mill operations, by the stark white buildings of the Jonita Lime Quarry & Plant, and through a rural wooded area favored by birdwatchers who also flock to this waterway via kayak, canoe, or towpath – among other city sights.

To avoid a return journey upstream, it is a good idea for your paddling partner to park their car at the Martindale Boat Basin. From there, it is only a short distance to the five combine locks (6-10) that still feed the Champlain Canal. The Feeder Canal Towpath continues this far, crossing over Burgoyne Avenue in Kingsbury until it meets with the Empire State Towpath.

The Feeder Canal Alliance hosts an annual canoe/kayak race, which will once again be a virtual competition in 2023. Check back for more details on how to participate!


Northwest Bay Brook & Northwest Bay – Lake George

Surface Area: 32 miles (Lake George) (data unavailable for Northwest Bay Brook & Northwest Bay)

Average Depth: 70 ft. (Lake George) (data unavailable for Northwest Bay Brook & Northwest Bay)

Directions to Public Boat Launch: Northwest Bay Fishing Access – Lake Shore Drive, Bolton Landing

Restrictions: parking for 15 cars, car-top boats only, hand launch

About 6 miles north of Bolton Landing, is an access point to Lake George’s Northwest Bay via Northwest Bay Brook. Also along this section is the Clay Meadows trailhead, providing access to the Tongue Mountain Range.

The conservation of Northwest Bay has long been a priority. These wetlands on the eastern shore help to filter mountain runoff before it reaches the open waters of Lake George. Exploring the nooks and crannies of Northwest Bay Brook is a fun expedition for any paddler.

Groupings of lily pads signify the presence of bullfrogs, whose chirps and croaks can be heard from within the thick vegetation along the banks. The likelihood of spotting a great blue heron here and many other species of waterfowl is very high.

Pay attention to where you paddle. Make a mental note of the direction you turn at a fork so you can get back to the launch site. Depth varies and the waters are dark, watch out for fallen and submerged logs.

The best time to paddle this tranquil spot is during a warm fall day in September or October, when there is less motorboat traffic and noise emanating from the southern basin.


For more boat launches and kayak/canoe/SUP rentals, click here.