- Difficulty Level: Challenging
- Miles: 27 Miles
- Duration: 4-5 Days
This trek offers a challenging day hike up Ampersand Mountain, with tremendous views of the High Peaks and the canoe area, a chance to paddle through Upper and Lower State Locks, and a Bald Eagle nest visible on Lower Saranac Lake. You will be traveling very popular routes and will see other canoes as well as houses along the shore lines.
Depart Rollins Pond Canoe Base. Canoe to Floodwood Pond, into Little Square Pond, through Fish Creek, and into Fish Creek Pond. The public campground picnic area is a good spot to have lunch. It has fresh water and flush toilets. Continue on through Fish Creek Ponds, and either head out into Fish Creek Bay in Upper Saranac Lake, or head north into Follensby Clear Pond. Recommended campsites for the first night are in Follensby Clear, in Saginaw Bay or on Buck Island, in Upper Saranac Lake.
Depart Follensby Clear or Upper Saranac, head south through the narrows of Upper Saranac Lake and head into Huckleberry Bay on the east side of the Lake. Proceed to the end of Huckleberry Bay, and take the Bartlett carry into Middle Saranac. The Bartlett carry is half on a dirt road, and half on a trail. Watch for cars, and don’t loiter at either end of the carry.
Alternatives: Instead of the Bartlett carry, take the Weller Pond Carry. The Weller Pond carry leaves from Ampersand Bay on Upper Saranac Lake, and ends at Weller Pond. The trail is long, rugged, hilly and can be very muddy. This carry, although a nice alternative, should only be tried by experienced crews.
From Weller Pond, head south into Middle Saranac Lake. Camping on Middle Saranac Lake is by reservation only. Remember these sites are for 6 people max. The Forest Rangers check these sites every night.
The third day is typically a layover day; so try to reserve a site for two days in a row. Paddle south, with just daypacks, to the beach and Ampersand Mountain trailhead. Beach canoes out of the way and hike up Ampersand Mountain. The steep hike, on average, can take between one and a half to two and a half hours up. Lunch atop Ampersand Mountain with views of the High Peaks, and the Adirondack canoe area is a great reward for the difficult climb up. An afternoon of advancement and activities is a nice change of pace when you get back to camp.
Push off and head for the Upper State Locks between Middle and Lower Saranac Lakes. These locks are self-operated. Camping is good on Fern Island or Picnic Island on Lower Saranac Lake with reservations, or you can continue on to Kiawasa Lake without reservations.
Continue onto Lake Flower for a pick-up in the town of Saranac Lake at the boat launch. You can treat yourself to a fresh lunch at a local deli or fast food place.