When researching my Adirondack Paddling guidebook a few years ago, I canoed a stretch of the upper Hudson River and the lower Opalescent River. At the time, legal options for accessing both rivers were limited, despite their proximity to County Route 25, the road leading to the Upper Works trailhead.
I parked along the road next to a Forest Preserve sign and put in the Hudson from a sloping boulder with poor footing. In the book, I recommended people paddle downriver to the Opalescent and then paddle back up the Hudson a few miles to take out at a bridge on County Route 76, the road that leads to the former NL Industries mine.
It was frustrating, because there were plenty of better places to take out along County 25, which parallels the Hudson, but the land was owned by the Nature Conservancy. With the state’s acquisition of MacIntyre East, that is no longer the case.
My impression is that this part of the Hudson does not see a lot of paddlers, perhaps due to its closeness to the road and former mine. That’s a shame, because the river offers spectacular views of Santanoni, Algonquin, and other High Peaks.
The Opalescent River is a wonderful side trip. From the mouth, I was able to paddle nearly two miles, as far as a railroad trestle, but this might be farther than most people will want to go as the water became quite shallow upstream (in high water, you can go beyond the trestle). Except for the trestle, the narrow, winding river is utterly wild, with inviting sandy beaches on the bends.
Presumably, the state Department of Environmental Conservation eventually will designate put-ins and takeouts, but in the meantime, here is one idea for a flatwater paddling trip.
Just below the confluence of Hudson and Opalescent, a sturdy logging bridge crosses the Hudson. Put in here and paddle upriver for a mile to Sanford Lake, a widening of the Hudson with great views of the High Peaks. After exploring the marshy lake, turn around. The Opalescent enters from the left before you reach the logging-road bridge again. Go up the Opalescent as far as you choose or as far as you can. (We’ll call it a mile.)
After returning to the Hudson, continue downriver beyond the logging bridge. In this section, the river pulls away from the road and has a wilder feel. In about a mile, you reach a marsh with more great views of the High Peaks. Soon, the Hudson pulls beside County 25 again. You could take out here and bicycle or walk the mile or so back to your car. The alternative is to paddle back upriver (typically, the current is not strong). Altogether, you can get in roughly six or seven miles of paddling, depending on which option you choose.
To avoid a round trip on the Hudson, you could put in at the County 76 bridge and paddle downriver through Sanford Lake to the suggested takeout. This option, including the Opalescent side trip, would be about six miles. The shuttle would be about three miles.
DIRECTIONS: From Northway Exit 29, drive 18 miles west on County 84 (Blue Ridge Road) to County 25 and turn right toward Tahawus. Drive about 4.3 miles to the logging-road bridge on the right. If putting in at the County 76 bridge, continue another 1.2 miles (for 6.5 miles total since the turn) to the junction with County 76. Bear right and park along the road. The bridge is visible as soon as you make the turn.
Photo of Upper Hudson River by Phil Brown.