Friday, May 27, 2022

Celebrate Paddling ADK launches a month of events

celebrate paddling logo

By Rivka Cilley

Canoeing is so ingrained in our heritage here in the Adirondacks that it is easy to overlook and take for granted.  With free public access to lakes and rivers in every direction, it is possible to jump on a paddle board, slide into a kayak, or step into a canoe for a day or a week.  Locals are fortunate to be surrounded by state land that is clean and protected.  Many people in the area can trace their ancestors back to the original settlers or native people who came to the Adirondacks.  Water routes were the most efficient means of travel prior to the invention of motorized vehicles.  Many of the canoe routes and portages that we recreate on today were used as trading routes or for fishing.

We all have stories to tell of our experiences camping on the local lakes and ponds.  Spending time outdoors paddling, camping, and swimming has shaped who we are as individuals and as a community.  The greater Saranac Lake area is known for its warmth and deep sense of community; values which were most likely kindled out on the water.  Paddling is a very powerful experience because it brings a deep sense of peace.  The fresh air clears our minds and helps us focus on what is important. Paddling with others provides a bonding experience which allows us to be our best.    Sitting around a campfire at the end of the day brings a feeling of warmth and security, which opens us to form deeper friendships.  Time spent on the water is an opportunity to share confidences, overcome challenges, and celebrate life with others.  Most importantly, paddling is just plain fun.

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This year Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters, St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, Raquette River Outfitters, Mac’s Canoe Livery, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, and the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce have come together to organize events for the month of June to celebrate paddling.  For information on these events, please check the schedule at

Organizers focused their conversation on making these events easily accessible and fun for locals by offering a variety of classes and paddle outings at discount prices.  The events are designed for a range of ages and interests.  St Regis Canoe Outfitters is offering Family Canoe Games clinic for families with children. Also on the schedule is the traditional Trivia Night for people to test their knowledge on paddling questions.  Dave Cilley is giving a talk at the Saranac Lake Library regarding his journey in researching and creating the Adirondack Paddler’s Guidebook & Map series.  Jason Smith from Adirondack Lakes & Trails has created a series of events focused on Invasive Species Awareness.  

The Saranac River clean-up and the Raquette River clean-up are great volunteer community service opportunities.  The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation is offering a Loon Interpretation Paddle on Middle Pond.  Mac’s Canoe Livery is offering Voyageur Canoe Evening Paddles in their 26-foot-long Voyageur Canoes. The Loon Center is also coordinating with St Regis Canoe Outfitters and Adirondack Lakes & Trails to offer a morning program for 3rd graders in the Saranac Lake school district. Paul Smith’s VIC is offering guided evening paddles on Barnum Pond.  

In addition to these individual events, there will be larger opportunities such as the Adirondack Paddling Symposium, which is held the weekend of June 17-20. This event, which is being put on by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, focuses on instruction with tracks for kayak, canoe, pack boat, and SUP.  It caters to beginners and intermediate paddlers looking to build stronger skills. The Celebrate Paddling Invitational will be held at Riverfront Park on June 26.  This is a family-friendly paddling event with something for everyone, including races for all ages and abilities, boat demos, and a chance to purchase or sell used boat or paddling gear.

The larger Saranac Lake community was also included in the planning.  The Saranac Lake Public Library and the Saranac Lake History Museum will have a display of photographs and books.  Mountain Hooves and Paws will be offering a series of four classes focused on paddling with your dog.  The Adirondack Artist Guild will feature paddle related artwork in their window. ADK ArtRise will offer a Friday Night Date Night on June 10th focused around “watercolors” and Open Studio hours on June 11th with an optional “Dip and Go” Marbling Demo project. The Art Walk on June 16 will offer special activities that focus on paddling, such as a performance by the popular Canoodlers. Local restaurants are having lots of fun creating special menu items, such as SLove’s creation of “Paddling Thyme Shrub” made from strawberry, thyme, balsamic, and club soda. Some of the local retailers, such as the BookNook will have displays in their windows focused on paddling themes.  The Saranac Lake elementary schools and St Bernard’s School will focus art projects for certain age groups drawing on the rich art history related to canoeing and guide boats in the Adirondacks.

Rivka Cilley is co-owner of St. Regis Canoe Outfitters 

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at

One Response

  1. Todd Eastman says:

    Sounds like a phenomenal program!

    Thanks to all involved in this.