Arrival and Orientation
Upon your arrival at our base, we will help you complete your trip plans by discussing itinerary, maps, and campsites. We'll familiarize you with local canoeing etiquette and with the gear including canoes, and the set up and use of tents, packs and stoves. We've found that the extra time spent in preparation contributes greatly to your enjoyment of the trip. Please plan your schedule and arrival time to allow at least one hour for this orientation. If you are planning a more extended trip you may want to consider arriving at our base the day prior to your trip to prepare. This facilitates an early morning departure if you prefer to spend more of the day on the water.
If you are planning a multi-day trip and you have not paddled recently or if most of your party is inexperienced, you may want to consider a guide's services for at least the first day of your trip. Families have found this particularly helpful.
Permits & Regulations
Camping and public use of the lands within the Adirondack Park are managed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Both Regulations and the need for permits varies by the geographical unit or management unit. "The St Regis Canoe Wilderness" is a separate unit management area from the "Saranac Lakes Wild Forest" for example. State campgrounds within a unit management area are operated under the Department of Operations within the NYS DEC.
General Regulations for State Land Use:
a. Wild Forest Areas: Maximum group size is 12 (Groups of more than 9 need a permit from the ranger who covers the area).
b. Wilderness Areas: Maximum group size is 8
c. State Campgrounds: Maximum of 6 people per site, two tents
d. Any size group staying at the same campsite for more than 3 nights needs a permit from the ranger who covers the area.
2. Day Use (Hiking or Paddling) in the Wilderness Area is limited to groups of 15 people.
See list of NYS Rangers below. New York State now requires that anyone bringing "paying clients" onto state land must have a Guide's License. Non-profit organizations are exempt.
In accordance with state laws, we urge you to:(1) properly dispose of human wastes (burial at least 6" down and 150' away from water or camp), (2) help maintain water quality by not washing directly in lakes or streams, (3) use only wood that is both dead and down and (4) carry out all you carry in. Boiling or treating drinking water is recommended.
As the number of paddlers increases so does the chance of the unexpected. It pays to plan. If you are an experienced outdoors person, but inexperienced in leading a group in canoes, contact us early in your planning. We are happy to provide tips and checklists that will help you put together the details of your trip. Many groups take advantage of a guide - it's a great learning resource and maintains a better staff ratio.
Safety and Liability
We do everything we can to make your trip safe, enjoyable, and something that you will want to repeat. We cannot, however, guarantee a safe trip. Factors beyond our control include weather and natural disasters, and of course your own judgement.
All participants in your group must sign a liability waiver (a copy of which will be sent to you upon receipt of your reservation payment). Participants under the age of 18 must have the signature of a parent or legal guardian. Group leaders may not sign in place of a parent or guardian.
If you are camping overnight:
Nearly all of the areas around our bases provide free campsites. The exceptions noted here are State or Private campgrounds. These campgrounds are popular bases from which to do day trips in the area or they are convenient stops on multi-day trips.
- Rollins Pond and Fish Creek Ponds Campgrounds are both drive-in State campgrounds. Reservations are needed.
- Buck Pond Campground is a drive-in campground located just southeast of Lake Kushaqua. Reservations are required.
- Saranac Lake Islands Campground includes Middle and Lower Saranac Lakes. This area is operated as State campground has a fee from mid-May thru Columbus Day. The only access to the campsites is by boat. If you are planning to do the Saranac Lakes trip you will need to make reservations for this campground in advance.
- Donaldson's Campground is Private and has campsites on both Upper Saranac Lake and Fish Creek Pond. (518) 891-4070
Reservation number for State Campgrounds is: 1-800-456-Camp or on the web at reserveamerica.com click on NY state and the campground name.
If you are paddling from our Floodwood to Saranac Lake Outpost, you must reserve sites on Middle and Lower Saranac BEFORE ARRIVAL. Additionally you must check in at the campground headquarters at State Bridge on Route 3 PRIOR to departure from our Floodwood Outpost.
About the Campsites
The Adirondack park offers a range of campsites as follows:
- Roadside Public Campgrounds - multiple campsites, drive-in convenience, fee charged, showers, usually some hook-ups and many have lakefront sites. Examples: Fish Creek Pond, Rollins Pond, Buck Pond, Meacham Lake.
- Wild Forest Campgrounds - multiple campsites, boat access only, fee charged, some have amenities like an outhouse, picnic table or a fireplace with a grill. Examples: Lower and Middle Saranac Lakes.
- Designated Campsites - no fee charged, may or may not have any amenities. Example: St. Regis Canoe Area, Fish Creek Ponds Area.
- Established Campsites - no fee charged, occasionally an outhouse or picnic table, fireplace may be an informal ring of stones. These fire rings should be used for open fires. Please do not remove them. Examples: Raquette River, Paul Smiths Area, Lake Kushaqua Area, Tupper Lake.
Forest Rangers Along Adirondack Canoe Routes
|Area||Township||Max Group Size||Ranger & Telephone|
|St. Regis Wilderness|
Upper Saranac Lake
|Santa Clara - South|
Waverly - South
Keese Mill Road Area
Raquette River - below falls to Tupper Lake
|Middle Saranac Lake*|
(In off Season)
Lower Saranac Lake*
(In off Season)
(Campground in season)
Lower Raquette River
|5 Ponds Wilderness |
|Santa Clara Tract |
St. Regis River - Middle Branch
St. Regis River - East Branch
Santa Clara Tract
Debar Wild Forest
|Santa Clara, Brighton, Duane||12|
|Long Lake||12||Jim Waters|
|Whitney Wilderness Area|
Little Tupper Lake
|Blue Mountain Lake||12||Jason Scott|
South end Long Lake
(campsite capacities are site specific)
|Webb - North end||6/8/20||Luke H. Evans|
* Notes on DEC campgrounds: During the summer Lower and Middle Saranac Lakes are operated as Saranac Lake Islands Public Campground - Fee & Reservations required. Reservations for any Dept of Env. Conservation Campgrounds can be made at www.reserveamerica.com or 1-800-456-CAMP.The Ranger is listed here for these lakes because in the off season these lakes revert to Wild Forest Land status and permits are needed according to the general regulations.
When Emailing a ranger for a backcountry camping permit (at least two weeks in advance), please include
- Name: Last, then First
- License Number: Either drivers license or vehicle license, if staging a vehicle as part of the trip
- Mailing Address: Be complete the permit will be mailed to you
- Date of Birth
- Phone Numbers: Area code first - Include day and evening phones
- Number of people in the camping party: total number
- The Camping Dates
- Organization Represented: for example - Boy Scout Tr # 0000
- Intended Campsite Locations: for example - 6/1/07 Put-in Long Lk Marina -- Camp on North shore. 6/2/07 Camp vicinity of Raquette Falls. 6/3/07 Take-out at Axton Landing.
Remember: Camping permits are ONLY permits to camp---they are NOT reservations for any particular site.
Group Leader: You will be responsible for obtaining the necessary camping permit for your group from the ranger covering the area where your trip begins. Any group of >9 needs a permit. Maximum camping group varies from 8-12. If your trip divides into subgroups they must camp at least a mile apart. We recommend day travel group sizes correspond to the camping group maximums (or less).
Emergencies: While you are in the woods the phone number for reporting an emergency is 518-891-0235. This is also a good number to leave with people at home for an emergency contact number while you are paddling. IF you are renting gear or using SRCO Services, we ask you to use our phone number as well.
The ponds in the St. Regis Area are well known for their brook trout fishing in the spring and fall. The best time for brookies is right after ice out - usually the last two weeks in April. Until mid-May worms work well for spin gear, and sinking streamers or flies are excellent into mid-June. Spin fisherman find that light line (4 pounds or less) and small spinners are helpful. Some good brookies are still possible in summer by those willing to stalk the stream banks like those of the Ausable, Ampersand Brook or the Cold River. Larger lakes and ponds like Upper Saranac Lake are popular for lake trout and landlocked salmon. Most fisherman catching larger fish use lead core line and fish deeply. Lower and Middle Saranac Lakes are excellent northern pike and largemouth bass area. Pike and largemouth bass are also common in the Osgood River drainage, the West Branch of the St. Regis and the Raquette River and in Tupper Lake. Pike are commonly caught on live bait and larger spoons. Bass respond well to both spinner bait and to small poppers as well as the traditional plugs.
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation maintains a fishing and hunting website. Complete stocking lists for the area and depth maps are available at our base.
Our shop has a selection of basic fishing equipment. Fishing licenses should be purchased before arriving at our base.
|Sr. (> 70 yrs.)||$5.00||N/A|
Anglers under 16 yrs of age do not need a license. If you will be helping someone fish you must obtain your own fishing license. State law requires that you carry your fishing license with you while you are fishing.
Fishing Licenses: may be obtained by phone. Toll Free 1-866-933-2257, only accepted - Master Card or Visa. Have your card ready when you call.
Fishing Licenses are not available at our base. Licenses may be purchased at nearby sporting goods stores in either Saranac Lake or Tupper Lake. For more information & a list of places that sell licenses go to: www.dec.gov/permits/6091.html/.