South Creek

And through the locks!

Lisa Sciacca

Why South Creek?

Due to our schedules, I had not paddled with my friend Elaine this summer. When our schedules finally jived, I suggested that she select the launch site. I was thrilled when she suggested to put in at South Creek as I had not paddled that area in a long time. At 11 a,m. we put in at the shallow access which is along Route 3 — approximately 10 miles from Tupper Lake, headed East towards Saranac Lake, at Marcy's Bridge. The creek is absolutely beautiful with Pickerelweed and White Lily pads in abundance.

Visitors Kassie and Derrick

We were behind two other paddlers, one of which was photographing a couple of Blue Herons. After the herons flew away, I introduced myself and learned they were Derrick and Kassie from Long Island. Kassie's family owns a residence on Upper Saranac Lake, so they have been coming to this area for years and absolutely love it. I shared with them some of my favorite paddle places. 

Landmarks are helpful!

As we entered into Middle Saranac we were greeted by a huge boulder in the lake and an island, later I leaned it is Ship Island and it's private. We noted that the island and the boulder would be perfect landmarks for finding our  entrance to the creek on the way back. Middle Saranac has many islands ranging in sizes, fantastic campsites, as well as sandy beaches, which are absolutely beautiful.

One of our landmarks to find South Creek entranace upon our return

A beach!

At the first beach we came upon — only accessible by boat, a family was enjoying the water, sun, and food! The mom was watching her little girls and dog frolic in the water, and the dad was picking blueberries. I learned they were from MA and renting a house nearby and just like the other couple they love the Adirondacks! What is there not to love?

Family from Long Island enjoying our beaches!

The second beach, on the eastern shoreline, is much longer and is also accessible via a short walk from Route 3. The trail is just off the parking area across from the Ampersand Mountain trailhead. The water is shallow and very clear, it is absolutely beautiful with fantastic views! No wonder it is a popular beach and a favorite to many! 

A larger beach!

Beautiful long sandy beach and shallow water!

We paddled to the north side of the beach and found the Saranac River which would take us through the Upper Locks to Lower Saranac. I could not recall the distance, so I asked a boater, she estimated one mile.(Later I looked it up, it was two miles). As Elaine and I had nothing else on our agenda on this day, we paddled on. We were paddling near four women in tandem kayaks and entered the locks with them. We also met many boaters, pontoon boats, and various size motor boats, all of which were respectful of our small watercraft.

Lock fun!

The locks are fun!

We entered the locks when instructed to do so by the lock keeper. In the locks she instructed us to move to the very front of the locks and for each of us to hold on to a rope which dangled from the side walls. Once we were through the locks we had another mile to paddle prior to reaching Lower Saranac. We were both very hungry! I looked at the Paddler's map to find the nearest campsite. The first campsite we would reach would be number 46,  we hoped it would be vacant. We paddled on thinking about lunch and enjoying the views — especially the high cliffs. 

The cliffs!


In Lower Saranac we paddled along the left shoreline, looking for site 46 and to stay clear of the motor boats. There were many boats going in and out of the channel and a few zooming around the lake, some with water skiers and tubers. The shoreline was rocky and in many places had high banks, so we could not just pull our Hornbecks out and have lunch. I spotted a clearing between a pontoon boat and a motor boat and suggested we stop there.  The spot was suitable to get out, but there was not a place to sit and enjoy lunch. However, there were trails which I hoped would lead us to a clearing. I asked the couple on the pontoon boat, if we could land near them to find a suitable lunch spot, they stated, "Yes, of course!" We took the trail and in no time at all came to a campsite. It was campsite 46! Nice set-up too! A picnic table, fireplace, grate, a bench, and a nice area for pitching a tent. We sat on the rocks near the water’s edge and devoured our lunch, talking a little, and enjoying the view!

Campsite 46, finally lunch time!

Being that we had paddled for 3 hours, we did not linger too long after lunch. We headed back on the Saranac River, once again going through the locks.Elaine on the Saranac River, heading back to South Creek.

I thought about stopping at Middle Saranac for a quick dip, but the wind had already increased, and Middle Saranac can be very windy!

Upon our arrival back at the put in, I asked Elaine if she had ever paddled that far. She said, “Yes, but years ago!” I must say, she was a good sport, she never complained! However, she stated she was ready to put her feet up and enjoy a Corona on her deck. I had some in the fridge from Shaheen's Market, so I was all set! I asked Elaine at a later date if she had had that Corona. Indeed, she had one on her deck, with her feet up,  — she had stopped a Wawbeek Quick Stop.

It was a great day on the water!