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Post by alpha60 » Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:23 am

For those desiring wild rivers in the Northeast, consider the Adirondacks, a gentle, grizzly-free wilderness with some darn good bubble-boating. Highlights include:

The West Branch Sacandaga River

Great whitewater trip through the Silver Lake Wilderness Area with many possible approaches and a remote gorge that is really only doable by class V boaters or packrafters who can bushwack/scramble around it. For a daytrip you can do the whole gorge plus the Whitehouse to Wells section or just put in at Whitehouse. The gorge section is described here: ... il_id_540_ The Whitehouse to Main Branch section is seven miles of near continuos II-III. To portage around the gorge you can bushwack on the south bank away from the river (the fastest) or scramble along the faint trail and cliffs on the north bank as a more scenic option. For an overnight trip hike the Northville-Placid Trail from Upper Benson and camp at a lean-to at Silver or Mud Lake, or hike the NPT south from Piseco where you can stay at the Hamilton Lake Stream lean-to which is another possible put-in leading to the West Branch. The river seems to be at a good level when the gauge at Hope ... gage=hopn6 is around 2.7-4 ft, which happens in the spring, fall and after storms.

West Canada Wilderness Area & Moose River Plains Wild Forest

Lots of rivers, lakes and trails make some more ambitious trips possible in this area. Good packrafting rivers include the Cedar, South Branch Moose, Indian (from Brooktrout Lake), Jessup, and West Canada Creek. There are many possible approaches and connections via trails (Northville Placid Trail, Brook Trout Lake Trail, Sucker Brook/Colvin Brook Trail), lakes, and bushwacks. This area is best packrafted in late April or May before the black flies when the water is high and the dirt roads of the Moose River Plains are closed.

Other Adirondack possibilities include a High Peaks traverse to the Hudson River Gorge, the big whitewater of the Moose River and numerous canoe routes on the Raquette, Oswegatchie, etc.


chris erickson
Joined:Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:33 pm

Re: Adirondacks

Post by chris erickson » Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:10 am

Any ideas for more info on the Adirondacks? I'll be visiting my brother and would love to introduce him to PRing. Class V gorge probably won't do - is there a kayaking guidebook for this area? Never been to this area and have no idea about anything (water levels, time of year, etc.).


Joined:Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:13 am

Re: Adirondacks

Post by EricC » Mon May 25, 2020 6:11 am

High Peaks Figure 8

My buddy and I just completed this awesome trip in 3 days (5/22/20 to 5/24/20). Here's a map of the route:

This is a remote trip and requires a big effort and good conditions to do it in 3 days. We are pretty strong hikers and were on the move for well over 10 hours every day. We had ideal weather and reasonable water levels (some bony sections, on the Cold River especially). But please budget your time wisely, and make note of ways to cut distance at the end of the route in case you run out of time.

The Raquette is always high enough to float, but the Cold and Opalescent Rivers depend somewhat on rain and snowmelt and there are no gages on these rivers. It's not foolproof, but you can use three nearby gages to help approximate water levels on the Cold and Opalescent:

The first couple of miles of the Cold River pass through a Class V gorge. We put in below this gorge and ran mostly Class I and II with a couple drops/waterfalls that could be run (by packrafters better than we) but are also easy to portage. No wood to speak of, but this river is remote and fairly committing. We were on the river when the above gages were at the following levels. I would consider this to be the minimum level for an enjoyable experience (we bumped and scraped through quite a bit):
Hudson (USGS 01315500): 3.87 feet
East Branch Ausable (USGS 04275000): 2.5 feet
Ausable (USGS 04275500): 2.7 feet

The Opalescent River is very cold and drops from the Flowed Lands through "New York's steepest mile of whitewater." Unless you are an absolute hero (like these guys: you should NOT put in on the Opalescent until you are well below Hanging Spear Falls. But do not pass the overlook to see Hanging Spear, the small side-trail off the East River Trail is marked by a rock cairn and is easy to miss. The view of the waterfall is really spectacular. There are several options to put in on the Opalescent. We walked all the way down to the hiker bridge because the water levels looked a little too low up higher. Below the bridge we encountered some Class I and II, with a pretty decent double-drop waterfall that we walked around. We scraped through a couple of sections up high, but really the water level was really pretty good. Mostly placid twisty Class 0 river paddling, very peaceful and beautiful. Some wood to navigate around but only one river-wide strainer that forced a portage. These were the local gage levels when we were on the river:
Hudson (USGS 01315500): 3.77 feet
East Branch Ausable (USGS 04275000): 2.45 feet
Ausable (USGS 04275500): 2.6 feet

Some things to note. There are first-come, first-served lean-tos all along this route for great camping but bring a tent in case the lean-tos are all occupied (as they were this past weekend). In the Western High Peaks (west of Henderson Lake) you can have camp fires and you are permitted to hang your food in a bear bag. If you camp overnight in the Eastern High Peaks (east of Henderson Lake) you MUST have a hard-sided bear canister and no camp fires are permitted. Because there was a possibility that we would be spending a night in the Eastern High Peaks, we brought a bear canister. It is a pain in the neck to carry so we cached it off-trail before rafting the Cold River. We then picked it up on our way back through on the second day. We didn't end up needing it because we did not spend a night in the Eastern High Peaks, but it is wise to have it just in case.

Enjoy, and let me know how it goes!


Joined:Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:13 am

Re: Adirondacks

Post by EricC » Wed Jul 22, 2020 5:41 am

Jessup River Loop

Another route idea for the Adirondacks. This one is on the Jessup River and is suitable for times of low water, as the Jessup is slightly more reliable than many of the flashy creeks in the ADK. My buddy and I did the ~36mi loop in a day, but this would make a nice overnight for those looking for a more relaxed pace. ... iver-loop/

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