One of the most popular canoe/kayak trips in the Adirondacks lies within the 18,400-acre St. Regis Canoe Area in Franklin County.
It is the historic and very fishable Seven Carries: an approximately 9- to-10-mile pond-hopping adventure that can be done in a day or turned into an overnight camping excursion.
Depending on where you start and end, you’ll visit at the very least seven ponds and endure six carries (most paddlers forgo the last one) that total a little more than a mile.
You’ll also have the chance to try your angling hand on multiple fish species. Brook trout, browns, rainbows, lake trout and splake are all prevalent in different waters of the canoe area. Others serve up some fine bass fishing, as well. A pre-trip suggestion is to visit the fish-stocking pages on the state Department of Environmental Conservation website: www.dec.ny.gov.
On a recent excursion my wife, Adrienne, and I chose the most common route, which begins at Paul Smith’s College on Lower St. Regis Lake and ends on Little Lake Clear near the state fish hatchery. This is the roughly 10-mile route with six caries. Number seven would be a very short carry from Little Lake Clear to Little Green Pond at the end of the trip. Both of these waters are off limits to fishing because of the brood-stock role they play for the fish hatchery.
We launched at the college around 8:15 a.m. and, after crossing the lake, headed south into the boggy channel and emerged in Spitfire Lake, an entirely private body of water with some classic Adirondack style decor along the shorelines. Ditto for Upper St. Regis Lake, which is connected to Spitfire.
These first three lakes are worth seeing for that Adirondack decor and I was able to catch a few smallmouth bass along the way. However, they are larger bodies of water and have their share of boat traffic. For those who wish to bypass these bigger waters there is a launch at the southeast corner of Upper St. Regis Lake, which cuts more than 2 miles off the trip.
The first carry, a mere 150 feet, is over to Bog Pond. It is here where you leave one world and enter another. Bog Pond is just that, mostly a bog that takes less than 10 minutes to paddle across. Then it was back on land for another short carry over to Bear Pond where the canoe area officially begins. The next three ponds we would hit: Bear, Little Long (East) and Green are all trout waters worthy of spending time on. They also have campsites, including a gem where Little Long dog-legs.
With our trip being in the heart of summer, I didn’t expect much trout action but gave it a try, without any luck. I mostly jigged on the advice of my friend and guide Joe Hackett. But I’m confident a return trip to these three waters in the spring or fall would net a patient angler some trout.
The short carry from Green to St. Regis Pond was made harder by a fallen tree. We were able to slide our kayaks underneath and soon were on St. Regis Pond, which is a destination all its own. With multiple campsites and one lean-to, this place is perfect for an overnight camping and fishing trip. It’s also the gateway into the western interior of the St. Regis Canoe area and is reached commonly by a 0.6-mile carry from Little Clear Pond.
We stopped on a point for lunch, where we relaxed and cooled off in the breeze. We would’ve liked to explore the pond a little more but those winds were stirring up some serious rollers. So we navigated to the final carry of our trip. A wooden walk-way greeted us and we got organized before we shouldered our boats and made the carry over to Little Clear Pond, which again is off limits to fishing but is a beautiful waterway to explore.
Once again the Adirondacks served up a perfect day that I’ll remember for a long time.
Dan Ladd is the author of “Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks,” outdoors editor for the Glens Falls Chronicle, columnist for Outdoors Magazine and contributor to New York Outdoor News. Contact him at www.adkhunter.com.