Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act and Adirondack Water Week in early August, the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce, Town of Schroon, Schroon Lake Association and the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism have partnered to create the Schroon Paddle Challenge.
This challenge encourages residents and visitors to undertake excursions on three local waterways that comprise the Schroon Lake watershed: Schroon Lake, the Schroon River to Schroon Lake, and Paradox Lake. Participants can use any type of human-powered vessel such as kayak, canoe or stand-up-paddleboard.
Upon completion of the three paddles, finishers will earn the Schroon Paddle Challenge patch. Those who are able to complete all three paddles over a single weekend (Friday-Sunday) will earn an “Ultra” patch, signifying their accomplishment.
Challenge participants must register to receive their patch. Additional information can be found on the paddle challenge webpage. A link to register will be active in early August.
According to Scott Ireland, president of the Schroon Lake Association, and executive director of the Adirondack Lakes Alliance, the challenge has been established to encourage people to explore our region’s waterways and, perhaps, try a sport that they have never done before. “We know that when people take part in outdoor activity, they tend to develop a love for the natural resources that surround them,” he said. “Encouraging these excursions will shine a light on the importance of the waterways. We are hoping to involve the community in helping to preserve the watershed so that future generations can continue to enjoy this beautiful area.”
Watersheds are critical to the health of a region’s ecosystem; along with its social and economic well-being – ensuring that residents and visitors can continue to use the lakes and rivers. A healthy watershed cleans and filters ground water by allowing it to absorb into the ground. This process improves water quality, reduces risk of flooding, reduces risk for invasive species to establish and increases resilience within a changing climate.
Ireland explains that one of the most important things that people can learn from this paddle challenge 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 stop the spread of invasive species that can upset the delicate balance of our region’s lakes, rivers and streams,” he said. “Boat wash attendants are stationed at many of the lakes in the region this summer – they are a great source of information. I encourage paddlers to have conversations with them whenever possible.”
According to Jane Hooper, communications manager at the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, the paddle challenge is a fun way to draw attention to the region’s watersheds and encourage paddlers to do their part to keep our waterways healthy. “The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism supports controlling the impacts of outdoor recreation on the region through education and promotion of educational information to residents and visitors. Ensuring that people understand the importance of our waterways helps control the health of our region’s lakes, rivers and lands; all things that contribute to our quality of life in the Adirondacks,” she said. “The more people who care for the waterways, the better.”
The three paddles that comprise the Schroon Paddle Challenge include:
Schroon River (South River)
This paddle begins at the Horicon boat launch on Glendale Road and ends at the Starbuckville Dam, just over four miles away. Paddlers can enjoy a slow and winding trip downstream. Those completing this paddle for the challenge are only required to paddle one way. Participants should consider spotting a car at the Starbuckville Dam, or plan to take the return paddle to the Horicon boat launch. Do not attempt to paddle past the bridge marked with warning signs.
Riverside Pines Campground, near Starbuckville Dam, is allowing one-way trip paddlers to take out at the beach to rest briefly at the campground beach before leaving the area or making the return paddle.
Schroon River to Schroon Lake (North River)
This paddle begins on the Schroon River on Alder Meadow Road. Enjoy a slow and winding 4.5-mile paddle downstream through a region that feels more like a backcountry paddle. It features beautiful scenery, wildlife, and borders on state land. The paddle ends at the Schroon Lake boat launch on the west side of the lake.
Those completing this paddle for the challenge are only required to paddle one way. Participants should consider spotting a car at the Schroon Lake boat launch, or plan to take the return paddle to Alder Meadow Road.
The Paradox Lake paddle encourages participants to undertake an outing on the lake. There is no minimum distance or time requirement, so paddlers can feel free to enjoy a leisurely outing or a full-day adventure.