Sunday, September 24, 2023

Saranac River projects impact access for paddlers, other users this fall

Northern Forest Canoe Trail logo.


Several projects along the Saranac River section of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) will impact access for paddlers and other users this fall. The projects include construction on Casey Road, a dam removal near Indian Rapids, and a fish ladder being installed at Imperial Mills Dam.

“Our community partners have done great work to inform us of the impact these projects will have on users,” said NFCT Stewardship Director Noah Pollock. “We want to be sure that paddlers, anglers and other outdoor recreationists know about this work and adjust their plans accordingly — the goal is to keep people safe and informed. Ultimately, these projects will enhance these sections of the Saranac River and we’re excited to see them come to fruition.”

Starting in September, both the traditional Union Falls Dam portage and the Casey Road portage are inaccessible. At present, a temporary portage route requires users to walk east on Union Falls Road to Hawkeye, then take Silver Lake Road to Route 3. Paddlers can also access the river near the Silver Lake Road bridge.

Elsewhere, a dam removal project at the Indian Rapids dam has resulted in extremely hazardous conditions. Paddlers are urged to avoid this section of the river.

“Paddlers absolutely must take heed of this warning,” Pollock said. “There is no possibility of safely taking out immediately upstream of the Indian Rapids dam due to increased velocity along the riverbank, which is pushing water through the power shaft and under the cement platform.”

Paddlers must portage both the Treadwell Mills and Indian Rapids dams at the same time. This 1.55 mile portage can be done easily with wheels. Work is expected to be completed by the end of September.

Finally, a project to add a fish ladder to the Imperial Mills Dam is underway. Paddlers should take out river-left, well above the dam and follow a trail to SUNY Plattsburgh’s campus. A yellow NFCT portage trail sign indicates the correct route.

Paddlers or other users with questions should contact NFCT Stewardship Director Noah Pollock at Additional information, including maps of alternate portage trails, can be found at

For more information about the NFCT, visit

About the Northern Forest Canoe Trail:
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a nonprofit organization that maintains and promotes the 740-mile water trail that runs from Old Forge, NY, to Fort Kent, Maine, and connects New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire and Maine. The trail showcases the mix of landscapes and communities currently lining the traditional routes used by Indigenous peoples, settlers and guides. It is the longest in-land water trail in the nation and consists of 23 rivers and streams, 59 lakes and ponds, 45 communities and 65 portages. To learn more, visit


Photo at top courtesy of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

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