Kayaking the Adirondacks

Destination: Adirondacks State Park, NY

| Activities: Kayaking and Camping Skills

The Adirondack State Park in northern New York is one of the premiere spots for kayak tripping on the East Coast, with countless lakes and streams of all sizes. We'll be kayaking part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail that stretches from Old Forge all the way to Fort Kent, ME. We, however, will only kayak a short part through the Saranac Lakes. Following the route of early loggers and hunters, our trail winds along rivers and across open lakes, where century-old, hand-operated locks still carry paddlers between waterways. While this is not remote wilderness, much of it has a wilderness feel. We're likely to see beavers, martens, and deer, and moose sightings have become increasingly common. For sure we'll hear the wild and haunting call of the loon. We'll be taking our time on this trip, with many options for additional paddling, swimming, or just relaxing into the peace of wilderness. Maximum group size: 8


  • Kayaking through the Saranac Lakes on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail
  • Swimming in clear water as often as we choose
  • Four nights of camping on lake shores in the Adirondacks
  • Listening to the haunting call of the loon as we sit around the campfire
  • Learning about the unique private/public partnership that keeps this area "Forever Wild"

Departures and Prices

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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Two nights lodging in double occupancy rooms and four nights camping
  • All kayaking and group camping equipment
  • All meals from dinner Sunday to breakfast the following Saturday
  • Transportation once you arrive in the Albany, NY airport (ALB)
Not included: Travel to and from Albany, alcoholic beverages, personal camping equipment (sleeping bags and pads can be rented), guide gratuities, and travel insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is designed for women with some prior kayaking experience who love camping and the feeling of being out in nature for several days at a time. The trip is rated 3. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be engaging in aerobic conditioning, such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, cross country skiing or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes at least 3 - 4 times a week. Upper body strength training is also recommended. Rating: 1 2 [3] 4 5.

On this trip we will be kayaking and camping from lake to lake. While experience with camping is not essential, you need to have sufficient kayak experience to be comfortable in wind and waves and to spend up to 2 - 3 hours at a time in your kayak.

We will be staying the first and last night at a lake-side hotel in Saranac Lake Village. In between we will be camping in two-person tents in designated state wilderness campgrounds with composting toilet facilities, but without electricity.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Our trip begins today at the Albany, NY airport where we'll pick you up at 12:00 p.m. After loading our gear into the van we'll drive 2.5 hours to the west central part of the Adirondack State Park. This State Park is unique: bigger than Yellowstone and Yosemite combined, it is a mix of publicly and privately-owned land which means that state owned access and campgrounds co-exist with towns, summer cottages, and motorboats.
We'll only see a small section on our way to the town of Lake Saranac Village. We'll spend the afternoon sorting our gear and getting packed up for an early start tomorrow. After finishing up we will go out to dinner and watch our first Adirondack sunset over the lake.
Overnight: Saranac Lake (D)
We start the day with a shuttle from Saranac Lake Village to our put in spot on Middle Saranac Lake. After getting our gear loaded and reviewing some basic principles for kayaking efficiently, we'll set off for a paddle to our designated campsite. Middle Saranac Lake is the smallest of the Saranac Lakes, and tonight and tomorrow night we'll camp at a campsite that is accessible only by water. "Wild" camping isn't allowed here, which is a good thing because the beauty of the area would result in it being overrun with paddlers.

After setting up our camp, we'll have time to explore the lake further. After having our fill of paddling, we'll return to our campsite for the first delicious camp dinner. Tonight, we'll be lulled to sleep by the sound of waves lapping the shore.
Waking up to the haunting call of the loon and the mist slowly rising off the lake, the beauty of the area seeps into our bones. After a hearty breakfast we’ll continue to explore Middle Saranac Lake, including an excursion to explore Weller Pond. Weller Pond, connected to Middle Lake by a 1000-foot-long channel, is nestled at the foot of Boot Bay Mountain and is dotted by two small islands. It was made famous by Martha Reben’s memoir, The Healing Woods, which recounted her experiences camping on its shore in 1931 while attempting a self-cure of tuberculosis.
We'll pack up this morning and continue our paddle, down the Saranac River to Lower Saranac Lake. In contrast to the open lakes we've been paddling, the Saranac River twists and winds through a wide and marshy channel to the Upper Locks. Yes, locks! Not too many wilderness areas have the convenience of being assisted through a three-foot drop and this one is definitely a holdover from an earlier time. Once through the lock, we continue through the channel that gradually opens onto Lower Saranac Lake. We'll be paddling and exploring most of the lake tomorrow, so we'll camp overnight and have some time to explore further.
Layover days are a marvelous thing in the wilderness - no packing up, no destination, just a chance to do as you please and really soak in the wilderness. After the previous few days we will be delighted to have one, and a more relaxing start to the morning. There are many choices for how to spend the day exploring Lower Saranac, we'll let the weather and our energy dictate our final choices. This will be our last night of camping and we'll take time to savor the beauty and quiet of the area.
Our last day of paddling is an excellent sampler of river, lake and mountains. We'll paddle through First Pond, Second Pond, Oseetah Lake and into Lake Flower, arriving back at the same place we started five days ago. Really, could it only be five days since we were here? But this time we'll suffer the inevitable re-entry shock that occurs after a week of quiet without cars or Wi-Fi. At the same time, we'll also deeply appreciate the hot showers and soft beds. After cleaning up we'll head into town for a final farewell dinner, celebrating our accomplishments and our camaraderie.
The Adirondack State Park really is a unique area and we hope you have gained an appreciation of it, but unfortunately, it's time to leave. If you drove to Saranac Lake you can leave any time after breakfast, otherwise we will pack up for the two-and-a-half-hour drive back to Albany. We'll have you back by noon and you can plan to fly out any time after 1:30 p.m.


(35 reviews)
4.9 Food
4.2 Lodging
4.9 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Most Recent

Linda M.
10 months ago

Jean C.
11 months ago

I loved the area! The other people and guides were awesome

Katie S.
11 months ago

This trip made it really easy to enjoy the outdoors - whether paddling in our kayak, walking through the gorgeous Adirondack woods of our campsite, swimming in the pristine lakes, or swinging in a hammock under the pines - our guides made it easy and so enjoyable to enjoy every minute of this beautiful trip. I have been on many trips prior with some questionable guides at times - I never once questioned the integrity or knowledge of our guides in the Adirondacks and am supremely grateful for that. All of our guides were wonderful, caring, knowledgable and passionate about what they do. Kayaking (and camping!) in the beautiful Adirondacks was a trip I will never forget. Thanks for that!!!

Bonnie T.
1 year ago

kindness and friendliness of guides expertise of guides meal prep, cleanup and food recipes, all done by guides - really wonderful calm, supportive and relaxed attitude of guides no time pressure on any day, especially on day one putting kayaks in and out of water by guides wonderful trip mates, friendly, accepting, supportive The Swedish/Norwegian log fire!! Excellent equipment, in good repair

Jeanne T.
1 year ago

It was a pure vacation. I felt able to enjoy the outdoors without a care because we were so well cared for.

Luann C.
1 year ago

The guides Jenny and Carrie were brilliant and all of the participants were interesting, easy to get along with, fun, helpful, courteous, and giving. I could have done an extra week out in ADK with these women, easy.

Patty W.
1 year ago

Kayaking the Adirondacks is a smorgasbord for the senses. I loved the sight of mountains, sparkling water on our daily paddles, and such green trees! I smelled the pines, the campfires at night and did I mention the fresh air? I won’t forget hearing the loons, red chipmunks and wind in the trees. And the kayaking left my whole body invigorated after the “work-out on the waves”. Oh, did I mention the food? It tasted so good! Our guides worked together so seamlessly- we marveled at their talents. This trip really left me "balanced" again. It reminded me what’s important….taking time for me, connecting with nature again and being thankful for all I've been blessed with. If that’s what you’re after, this is the way to find it. Thank you AGC for making this experience possible.

Linda M.
1 year ago

Comradeship, beauty of the lake

Julie B.
2 years ago

I had been dreaming about paddling in the Adirondacks for years! What a joy to finally experience that dream come true!

Jan A.
2 years ago

The guides were fantastic--relaxed. and so kind and capable. The group of women were cohesive and enjoyable. We spent so much time chatting! I loved the trip and would do it every year. I did it two years ago when we had a rigorous portage and camped in a new place every night---and I signed up again. This trip was different this year--it s less demanding and it was a wonderful trip.

Mary L.
2 years ago

After not traveling due to COVID, this trip was a welcome escape for a week. Everything was planned so well (packing list, pre-trip information, etc) I didn't have to think very much and could just enjoy the area! Meeting new people is always fun too!

Eenee F.
2 years ago

Anne Brewer, our guide, lives in the Adirondacks and she shared with us her passion and love for this wilderness area. It was a trip that empowered us. We carried all our gear for 5 days in our kayaks and camped in different campsites along the Lake Saranacs. The 8 participants and 2 guides were a fun, supportive, cohesive group for the week with campfire nights ending in songs, storytelling and laughter. It was special to meet 9 new friends and spend a week outdoors getting quiet tent time, hours paddling pristine waters and learning about the Adirondack Park.

Susan M.
2 years ago

What made this trip special for me? The itinerary and the dedicated and talented guides.

Diane S.
2 years ago

Highlights for me were the great group, guides and the Adirondacks!

Pamela J.
2 years ago

The communication, planning and the attention to detail were excellent.

Lisa B.
4 years ago

All of it. It was just great summer fun - kayaking, camping, swimming, bonfires, smores, hammocks, mosquitos, and good company! And the LOONS, the LOONS!!!

Jan A.
4 years ago

The beauty, the guides, paddling all day, the other women on the trip

Linda M.
4 years ago

Peace quiet . Camping . Food . Great companions .

Maxine H.
4 years ago

Group fun, experiencing the natural world in a beautiful place, with great weather, and a amazing guides who provided support and excellent planning/organization.

Nadine V.
4 years ago

The trip was the best AGC trip I have taken. We were able to unplug and experience the peacefulness and beauty of the Adirondacks. Falling asleep to the loon calls and waking up to the loon calls was amazing. Paddling out to watch the sunsets from the lake was memorable. Floating lunches and spontaneous swimming made the trip fun. The hand operated locks were an engineering marvel. We had a mixture of calm paddling and enough chop and wind to make it challenging. The teamwork and supportive nature of the participants and guides was the best I have seen on a trip.

Betsy A.
5 years ago

being in wilderness, great people

Christine T.
5 years ago

The guides, fellow travelers, food, scenery, location

Lisa H.
5 years ago

Kayaking the beautiful Adirondacks! I loved the simplicity of the trip, the guides and NO driving around!!!

Nancy B.
5 years ago

Time with friends in an awesome location doing what I love to do.

Luann C.
6 years ago

Francesca C.
6 years ago

I really loved the food at all of the places we went, the fact the Ann was a local and could tell us so much about everything was very cool and her and Karen were both confident and helpful and kind through the whole trip (and the food they made was good too!) I liked that we had options sometimes to rest if we needed to but I was having too much fun to skip anything!

Gwen E.
6 years ago

I gotta admit the carries were a bear. 🐻 It was a treat to be out in nature during the eclipse. Such a nice variety of paddling conditions - out on the larger lakes and then gliding through the narrow passes through the quiet shallows.

Bonnie S.
6 years ago

Tamara J.
7 years ago

Margaret P.
7 years ago

Loved the women on the trip, including the guides. Loved the adventure, especially when we got into areas where there were no signs of people - except for us. I love kayaking so obviously that's important to me - and we did just the right amount. Loved the challenging portages - when they were over. Great team building! Loved the flexibility to stay an additional night at our first campsite - it was SO beautiful.

Robin S.
7 years ago

The Fulton Chain and Raquette Lake were so beautiful! Kayaking and camping were, absolutely , the perfect way to travel through them!

Kim C.
7 years ago

Mary S.
7 years ago

It was a beautiful area to kayak and camp in. Loved the sunset kayak, and the days we didn't change coping locations but investigated the area we were staying in.

Rebecca G.
7 years ago

My goal was to experience the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and to improve my paddling skills. The lakes and waterway was beautiful and Anne was very knowledgeable of the region and the history which enhanced the experience. The highlight was being in the company of other woman who encourage each other and appreciate the outdoor and the challenges of a trip like this.

Linda M.
7 years ago

Camp sites on the lakes, kayaking Browns tract, quiet late afternoon paddle at Tioga point. Great food. Great leaders.

  1. I have never kayaked before, is this the right trip for me?

    Not really, you should have sufficient kayak experience to be comfortable with wind and waves and be able to paddle up to 2 - 3 hours. Our Paddling with Manatees trip or one of our Belize trips would be a better first choice.
  2. Where do we eat?

    In town you will be eating in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Some lunches you'll eat at camp and others you will take with you during the day. Breakfasts and dinners will be cooked on a campstove - you'll be amazed at just how good camping food can be.
  3. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    We can easily accommodate vegetarians on this trip. Other types of dietary needs can be more difficult since we will be camping and may not be easily accommodated unless you bring supplemental food. Please call us if you have specific dietary issues before you register.
  4. Can I drive my car to Saranac Lake instead of the airport?

    Absolutely. You can leave it parked at the hotel where we spend the first and last night.