The Kayak Chronicles ©

by Darren Caffery



Raquette Lake & Marion River

August 9, 2008

Raquette Lake is the source of the Raquette River in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State.  Raquette is the largest natural lake in the Adirondack Park and  has 99 miles of shoreline with pines and mountains bordering the lake.  Raquette Lake developed into one of the most prestigious summer getaways for the elite in the 19th century. In 1877, William West Durant started work on what would become the first of the "Great Camps".

The many bays of this large lake will provide hours of exploration.  Keep your eye out for some of the Great Camps. Explore the two-mile channel of South Inlet and Browns Tract Inlet where a one-mile carry that connects to Eighth Lake on the Fulton Chain. From the northeast outlet bay, a half-mile carry leads to Forked Lake.

After about 6 hours of driving from the Jersey Shore, Tom K and I arrived at the Lake Harris Campground in Newcomb, NY at about 3 pm on Friday afternoon. It was a bit rainy when we arrived and our campsite was a huge mud puddle.  Doug, our trip organizer had already set up his tent and we awoke him from a snooze when we arrived.  Within a few minutes, Val and Jean walked over to greet us and after the rain stopped a bit, Tom and I put up our tent and prepared our temporary home for the week.

After we were all set up and relaxed a bit, the five of us took a short ride into the town of Long Lake and had dinner at the Adirondack Hotel.  After a hearty dinner in the dining room of the old hotel, we made a stop in the nearby general store for some last minute provisions.  On the way back to the campsite, Doug was an excellent tour guide and took us to  the Newcomb Overlook park which provided a panoramic view of the High Peaks region. From a kiosk at the park, we obtained a very informative brochure, "Trail Guide to Newcomb Area:  Hikes and Canoe Trips" printed by The Newcomb Chamber of Commerce.

When we arrived back at the campsite, we got a campfire going but the local wood we bought from the area was a bit too  “fresh” and damp from all the recent rain.  Instead of blazing, the wood just smoldered with a small flame.  On our first night, we hung out around a small smoldering campfire which needed more maintenance than most of us were willing to give it.  Doug tried splitting some of the logs with his axe but that had little effect and the fire just continued to smolder, crackle and pop from the moisture. We had some snacks and wine so it was really no big deal.
The smoldering campfire broke up the hootenanny a bit earlier than normal.  Temperatures dropped into the low 50’s into the night.  It began to rain and ended up storming through the night, so we bunkered down in our tents.  The sound of rain pelting the tent roof continued through the night and into the early morning.  When it finally stopped in the morning, we joked about hosting a mud wrestling event at our site.
As a result of the rain, we emerged from our tents a little later than planned on Saturday morning and after breakfast, we travelled about 38 miles to Raquette Lake for our first paddling trip of the week.  As we drove to the lake, the sky got more clear and it turned out to be a beautiful Adirondack day with clear blue sky, puffy white clouds and temperature in the 70’s.  We launched from Golden Beach on the southeast shore of Raquette Lake at about 11:15 am. The shoreline of Raquette Lake was spotted with houses, camps and was somewhat busy with boat traffic.  After paddling about 4 miles on the lake we looked for the entrance to the Marion River.  There were a number of inlets along the shore and there was some confusion as to which inlet lead to the Marion River.  There was a large outdoor wedding going on at one of the large homes on the lake with lots of people outside. As we passed by we asked which inlet lead to the Marion River and a group of men broke into a song which revealed the way to the river.  A bit odd but interesting nonetheless.  As we rounded Big Island, we approached the Marion River and decided to paddle in.  The river narrowed and became less developed and more wild as we paddled farther into it.  The Marion River was very quiet and peaceful and offered a very beautiful view of Blue Mountain in the distance.  After paddling a mile into the river, we looked for a place to land for lunch.  We ultimately found a small area to land. The area had a sunny rock ledge overlooking the river and it looked like the perfect lunch spot.  As we ate lunch on the rock, occasional groups of paddlers passed by on the river.  After lunch we continued for a few more miles and after paddling about 7 miles, decided it was time to turn back.  We paddled a nice steady pace on the river back out to the lake.  On the return trip, we took the short-cut, inner route around Big Island back to the takeout.  We landed safely at about  5 pm and after 13 miles of paddling.
On the way home, we stopped off again in Long Lake and enjoyed another nice dinner on the enclosed screen porch at the Adirondack Hotel. It was a great day of paddling for our first day in the Adirondacks.


Little Tupper Lake

Hiking Goodnow Mountain

Lake Lila & Frederica Mountain

Rich Lake

Bog River



Adirondack Forum Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Lake Harris Campground

Adirondack Hotel Golden Beach Campground

ReserveAmerica Campground Reservations

Adirondack Museum Guide to Hiking Long Lake / Raquette Lake Area

The Newcomb Chamber of Commerce

Adirondack Park Hamilton County Recreation

Newcomb Visitor Interpretive Center

Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks Hoss's Country Corner

Newcomb Overlook

Adirondack Paddlers Map Best in Tent Camping: New York State

Quiet Water New York: Canoe & Kayak Guide

Adirondack Paddlers Guide National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map (#744)
Adirondack Trails: Central Region New York State Atlas & Gazetteer


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