There’s something especially appealing about a paddling expedition through the wilderness. Anyone who loves the outdoors has at least dreamed of a trip where they spend days crossing wide lakes with views of majestic mountains and forested shorelines, and nights spent lakeside by a fire, listening to loons, with a clear, starry sky above.
In the Northeast, one of the best places to experience such wilderness paddling is the St. Regis Canoe Area in the northern Adirondacks. The largest wilderness canoe area in the northeastern U.S., the 18,400-acre area features more than 50 lakes and ponds offering remote wilderness canoeing and kayaking.
A number of rewarding paddling routes wind through the area. But many require portaging. While most are short, some are over rough terrain too difficult for wheeled canoe carriers. You may have to carry over blow down or around beaver dams, and deal with some muddy, tough takeouts. But the upside is those conditions keep the crowds down. Plus, no trip worth telling stories about was ever an easy stroll. If you like a challenge in your adventures, and the reward of gorgeous, pristine wilderness, St. Regis is for you.
Paddlers can access the water at Long Pond, Upper St. Regis Lake, Hoel Pond and Little Clear Pond. The area features 70 designated primitive tent sites at 20 of its ponds.
You’ll notice that several of the area’s routes are named for their number of portages. Probably the most popular of St. Regis’ routes is the Seven Carries (which nowadays only has six portages). This 2-day trip covers more than 8 scenic miles, beginning at Little Clear Pond and crossing St. Regis Pond, Green Pond, Little Long Pond, and Bear Pond before ending at Lower St. Regis Lake. St. Regis Pond is popular for camping, but the first-come, first-served sites at Little Long Pond offer solitude.
Another popular paddling route in the area is the Nine Carries. This route has a number of variations. It passes through Fish Pond and connects two of three waters – Long Pond, Hoel Pond, or Little Clear Pond. Along the way it passes through Nellie Pond, Little Long Pond, St. Regis Pond and/or Ochre Pond.
If you want to experience the St. Regis Canoe Area, but are unsure about going it alone or are worried about portages, a number of capable outfitters are available in the area. Among them are St. Regis Canoe Outfitters and Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters.