Paddling the Bog River and Camping Near Horseshoe Lake

An Amazing Evening

Alan Belford

Setting up Camp

While Wren nosed her way around our chosen campsite, I pitched the tent and prepared for a night near Horseshoe Lake. We were heading out to explore late in the day and I wanted to have things set up ahead of time for when we returned. The tent up, we drove to the Bog River where once again Wren played – this time in the water – while I fussed with our gear, unloading the boat and getting us ready for a paddle.

Paddling the Bog River

We set off into a warm, sunny, late-afternoon landscape, chatting with a couple other paddlers who were heading out for a few days. Wren initially watched the scenery as we slid through the narrow frame of the rocks a short distance from the put-in, but then took up her customary dozing position: head on the yoke, opening an eye now and then to assess our surroundings. The sun was still warm, so I hugged the shadows of the trees where I could and began to tally my usual bird list – started off by species like Blue-headed Vireo, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Black-throated Green Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Northern Parula.

We heard Winter Wrens as we paddled out along the river. Image courtesy of

We followed the meandering path of the river to explore sunlit pools and shallows flush with blooming pickerelweed. The marshy margins of the river harbored more birds like Swamp, White-throated, and Song sparrows, Common Grackles, Common Yellowthroats, Alder Flycatchers, and a couple Chestnut-sided Warblers. This pattern continued as we paddled past tucked-away wetlands, bordered by phalanxes of white pines from which Yellow-rumped Warblers, Purple Finches, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Pine Warblers called and sang. We began passing a few of the campsites which dot the way along the river and I considered that perhaps I’d have to return and stay at one of them.

Aptly named, we found Pine Warblers in the white pines which lined the route.

Soon we reached the railroad bridge where Cedar Waxwings and a few Eastern Kingbirds darted from high perches to snag flying insects, and where Barn Swallows swooped low over the water and high overhead. I spotted one – then two - Great Blue Herons, also flying above us, and as we turned down the straightaway which leads toward Hitchins Pond, a flyover Osprey and Common Loon as well. We eventually turned around, pausing to watch a Belted Kingfisher fly from one low perch to another in its search for minnows and tadpoles, before we began to wind our way back to the take-out.  Wren popped an eye open to look around while I admired the pickerelweed which was blooming fantastically along the river.

As we did, I began to pause more frequently for photos of the low sun on the landscape. Wren watched me somewhat disinterestedly and dozed, only to suddenly sit upright and watch the shoreline if something stimulated her ears or her nose. Sleeping or not, she was not nearly as unaware as she appeared. She was particularly tuned in when we returned to the take-out, and she didn’t want to wait for me to give the okay to get out of the boat; once again she swam while I loaded up the gear.

Dinner, a Shower, and Evening Entertainment

We set off down the road for the Bog River Falls – near the end of Route 421. I had bought a robust-looking sandwich at Shaheen’s in Tupper Lake that afternoon and I had been looking forward to eating it for dinner. I had worked up an appetite, after all, and I was sure Wren was ready for food too. So, we enjoyed a small picnic on the rocks while watching a mother Common Merganser and her string of young ducks in tow. I then switched my cooler for my towel and used the falls as a natural shower, sitting on the rocks as the water poured over me – while Wren watched me and waded in the shallows.

A family of Common Mergansers offered some dinnertime entertainment. Image courtesy of

Our dinner and shower complete, we loaded up and headed back toward camp, listening to the evening sounds of insects along the road as we went. These were soon punctuated by the raspy begging calls of baby Barred Owls – recently fledged from their nest - and I pulled over to search for them in the dark. I could hear two babies calling and soon noticed one of the parents (I was unsure which one) fly in to feed one of the young birds. Then I heard the father Barred Owl call from the shadows, soon followed by the mother, so I knew that both parents were present. I stood and waited a little while longer, hunting for their silhouettes on the bare branches of the trees, and my patience was soon rewarded - I could stand in one place and watch all four owls fly from branch to branch around me, the young constantly begging for food, and the parents giving occasional calls and hoots. It was fantastic.

A family of Barred Owls offered an exciting end to the day!

It was difficult to pull away from such a moment but an early morning wake-up was looming and my sleeping bag was beckoning to me. And so, as the owls disappeared again into the black trees, we continued back to our campsite, crawled into bed, and dreamed about our next adventure.

Late summer and fall offer great paddling, camping, and birding opportunities. Don’t miss out! We're happy to help you plan your next trip — check out our lodging and dining pages to discover great insider tips.

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