ALBANY — The Adirondacks, a well-known paddling destination, now offers three paddling challenges to encourage people to explore and connect with the vast landscape, which includes over 3,000 lakes and ponds and 30,000 miles of rivers and streams.
“It’s an exciting addition to the existing challenges that we already have in the Adirondacks,” said Sydney Aveson, communications coordinator at the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST). “We have a lot of hiking challenges. The paddling challenges are a fresh take.”
The three challenges are in Saranac Lake, Schroon Lake, and Tupper Lake, and Schroon and Tupper are comprised of three routes and Saranac has five. Each finisher recives a patch and all the routes are beginner and family-friendly, and more experienced paddlers can also enjoy the routes. For more details about the routes, visit paddling.com/learn/three-paddling-challenges-in-the-adirondacks.
Aveson said that “because they’re separate challenges, they celebrate the different areas” of the Adirondacks. Two of the new paddling challenges are pond-hopping experiences and are the only routes to provide this unique experience.
“It’s approachable for new paddlers and families,” said Aveson. “Also, for experienced paddlers, with the way that the routes are laid out, they’re combined back to back. An experienced paddler can paddle them all in one day in what’s called an ‘Ultra.’”
Tupper Lake offered the first water-based challenge in recent years.
“It kicked everything off,” said Aveson.
Collaborations between ROOST, community leaders, and business owners helped initiate the challenges.
Aveson said one of the most crucial things people should know before tackling paddling challenges is the importance of ensuring that their boats are clean and dry between paddles or before moving to a different waterway.
“‘Clean, Drain, Dry’ is a simple three-step process that all boaters can follow to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species, which can threaten a healthy ecosystem,” she said.
Boaters can do their part by finding a decontamination station to wash their boats before entering another body of water. To find a decontamination station, Aveson recommends visiting the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute website at www.adkwatershed.org.
“One of the things that I appreciate about paddling is that it’s affordable and accessible,” said Pamela Bentien, who is an avid paddler and involved with the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK). “There’s a wide variety of places to go.”
ADK is an organization for outdoor recreation and conservation advocacy, with chapters across the state. Each chapter has its own outings focused on the area in which they are based and the interests of the members.
“When going with a group, you can have camaraderie if you feel like it, or chat with someone if you feel like it,” said Bentien.
Locally, Donna Larkin, owner of Upstate Kayak Rentals, is coordinating several dates with the Schenectady County Historical Society by offering guided tours from Waterford and Mohawk Harbor. Their event, Paddle the Canals: Champlain 200, is scheduled for July 29, with upcoming events planned into the fall.
“People in the Capital Region can forget how many great nature preserves and paddling opportunities we have right in our immediate backyard,” said Duncan Crary, a local paddler who has, in past years, embraced the challenge of canoeing to work as an alternative form of commuting.
“It’s pleasant to be out on the water,” said Bentien, adding that she appreciates how paddling has enabled her to get closer to the local wildlife, such as the many eagles, deer, foxes and beavers that she has encountered on her excursions.
“Paddling gives you a whole new perspective on the area you live in,” she said.