A fantastic place for a newbie!
Follensby Clear is an excellent location to take a newbie paddler, beautiful and calm, it's a great place to fall in love with the activity. The two launch sites for this paddle are only about 20 minutes from Tupper Lake; from Route 30 heading North, just .08 miles past the entrance to Fish Creek Campsite you'll find the first access, the second access is a little farther north. Both are on the left side of Route 30 and marked with the brown and yellow NYS sign. At the first launch site you are near a culvert. The creek that runs through the culvert is Spider Creek, which gives you access to Fish Creek Ponds and Upper Saranac. At the 2nd access you can also get to some campsites via a trail - though I am not sure how far you can go. I think I will add that to my "Adirondacks - things to do list."
Follensby Clear is clear and it is shallow, that is why I love taking new paddlers here. How can they not love this scenic paddle? Due to the shallow shoreline, you can get out of your boat just about anywhere to stretch, have lunch or use a privy. There are seven islands; five of the islands have primitive campsites, the other two do not allow camping.
On Tuesday September 1st, my plan was to paddle Follensby and portage 250 yards to Polliwog Pond. I met two women within the first 20 minutes of my paddle, who couldn't find their launch site, good reason to carry a map! I described both launches; they headed for the 2nd site, still a bit unsure.
Picturesque and a wildlife haven
I have been exploring Follensby since 2001 when I began paddling. You are almost guaranteed to see loons on this body of water, I have seen as many as nine in a single group. Loons have popped up right next to me and proceeded to swim under my boat. Blue Herons and Mergansers are also plentiful. I have seen as many as 32 Mergansers in a single group! I have also photographed Bald Eagles and Ospreys on this wildlife haven.
Prior to heading to Polliwog, I paddled near each island and the other three carries: Horseshoe Pond, Fish Creek (creek), and Green Pond. There were 4 or so camping sites occupied and both non-camping sites were occupied. My plan was to stop at the 2nd non-camping island, at the north end of the pond, near the Polliwog carry. That little island has two take-out areas - the one on the backside is my favorite. A huge tree root is near the take-out, the downed tree which once supported a swing rope now serves as a hangout for the ducks. The island is a little mound of a hill, with pine trees and blueberry bushes. The takeout area has a sandy shoreline with a grassy area, a mossy area, and a rock, all perfect areas for sitting. You don't even have to climb the small mound, but if you do, you have a much better view!
Being that the little island was occupied, I went to the adjacent island. As I started to go for a swim I heard splashing, at first I thought it was immature loons. I grabbed the camera and walked in the shallows, soon discovering it was four Mergansers. After that photo session, I went for swim, sat on the roots near the sandy beach and again heard splashing - very loud splashing! This time it was a loon, off in the distance. Many sources I have read state you cannot tell the male from the female, by size or by color. Since both partake in parenting you can't even tell the male from the female by which one is on the nest, feeding the baby, or carrying the baby.
Polliwog Pond a little gem!
When I reached the Polliwog Carry, just off to the west side of the lake, it was almost 4 p.m. I debated if I should continue on as I had plans to attend the 7 p.m. movie at the State Theatre. Keeping the time in mind I ventured over. My solo canoe is 16 lbs. and the carry is up and over and down, with banks on both sides. Let's just say that even with it being a short carry I was glad I had my canoe, not my kayak. Getting up the incline, I took a few steps forward and a few steps back. I purchased the canoe this spring and have yet to master carrying the canoe, paddle, waist pack, camera and small dry bag containing my whistle, sunscreen, map and towel.
The beauty of Follensby Clear is matched by Polliwog Pond. On the northern end there are numerous campsites. I paddled up to one to check it out; it had a beautiful wide sandy beach, crystal clear water, and no weeds. I saw the carry sign for Hoel Pond and then paddled the southern end. I skipped going to the western section, which appears to be a different pond as you enter through a narrow opening. I had paddled that section earlier this summer when doing a loop via the Middle Pond carry. On the south end of Polliwog there is another portage to Little Polliwog, I did not paddle to the portage due to time. If you wish to paddle Polliwog, a little gem, but you don't want to carry, you can access it via the Floodwood Road, and even do a primitive car camping trip if you desire.
On the south end of the lake, I paddled around a peninsula. I wanted to revisit a campsite on the peninsula, however it was occupied. Near a wooded area, I saw something moving in the water and investigated, it was a snake! I think we scared each other. I managed to get a photo of it, but I do not know what kind it was. I read the description of a water snake, but it did not match the description. Being that I don't particular care for snakes, I won't put it on my list of things to do.
Next time I will allow myself more time for birding and relaxing on Polliwog, as it was I hopped out of the canoe and pulled it across a log in order to shorten my paddle time back. Once home, I got ready for the movie, made it with a couple of minutes to spare and had popcorn for dinner! What a great day!