The Floodwood Pond Loop is an excellent backcountry trip for folks just breaking into the sport of canoe tripping or for seasoned paddlers looking to visit the North Adirondack area. The route is run almost entirely on state land, allowing for minimal development along the way—truly offering a wilderness experience. Additionally, more than 75% of the trip is paddled through creeks and ponds that do not permit motors.
With excellent backcountry camping along the whole route, it’s easy to forget your daily responsibilities and to leave the city-life behind. All camping on the route is free-to-use and first-come-first-serve. Additionally, for parties of 8 or less, no permits or pre-registrations are required.
Adirondack canoe trips: Floodwood Pond Loop
Floodwood Pond Loop is located in the Northern Adirondacks in Upstate NY, consisting on the following bodies of water: Floodwood Pond, Fish Creek, Little Square Pond, Fish Creek Ponds, Follensby Clear Pond, Polliwog Pond, Hoel Pond, Turtle Pond, Slang Pond and Long Pond.
Travel to the North Adirondack area
By car, the closest sizeable village is Saranac Lake, NY. Put-in is at state canoe launch on Floodwood Pond near St. Regis Canoe Outfitters’ Floodwood Outpost. Floodwood Pond is located in Lake Clear, NY about 30 minutes from downtown Saranac Lake.
Those arriving from further afield can fly into Adirondack Regional Airport (SLK), Lake Clear, NY.
Accommodations for Adirondack canoe trips
Most people take 2-4 days to complete the route. All camping along the route is free-to-use and first-come-first-serve. Any camper/party is permitted a maximum of 3 consecutive nights per site. Sites on Turtle, Slang, and Long Ponds are limited to a maximum of 8 people per party. Sites from Floodwood Pond through Hoel Pond allow a maximum of 12 per party, but a free permit from the Forest Ranger is required for any party larger than 9. It is strongly urged to contact a local outfitter for all the necessary permits and regulations a party must follow for the area.
Several motels, hotels, and B&B’s can be found in the Village of Saranac Lake (about 30 minutes from put-in/take-out) and in the village of Lake Placid (about 45 minutes from put-in/take-out). A semi-complete list of those lodgings can be found at the St. Regis Canoe Outfitters website. The closest hotel/B&B is Sunday Pond Bed & Breakfast in Lake Clear, NY (about 15 minutes from launch point).
Two large state campgrounds are located near the put-in (about a 10 minute drive). Both campgrounds share the same road as an entrance. Reservations can be made online for Fish Creek Pond State Campground and Rollins Pond State Campground.
There are approximately 16 drive-up primitive campsites along Floodwood Rd. (the road used to get to the put-in) that are all free-to-use and first-come-first-serve. Same rules apply to these campsites that apply to the ones from Floodwood Pond through Hoel Pond. Camping at any of these sites makes for an easy early morning put-in or an easy place to stay before a drive back home.
Guidance on gear for the Floodwood Pond Loop
All gear and boats can be rented from St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, located conveniently at the put-in/take-out. SRCO specializes in lightweight Kevlar canoes and kayaks as well as durable Royalex canoes and poly-rotomold kayaks. SRCO stocks the finest line of camping gear both for rent and purchase. SRCO also carries a full line of freeze dried meals and trail snacks. Full outfitting packages (including food) are available through SRCO or one can rent gear and boats by the piece.
Reservations for gear and boats should be made in advance if possible. SRCO can transport individuals, parties, and gear anywhere in the area to and from the put-in/take-out.
Recommended map: Adirondack Paddler’s Map, Paddlesports Press, 2013
Recommended guidebook: Adirondack Paddler’s Guide, David Cilley, Paddlesports Press, 2008
Don’t forget to pack
- Backpack or portage pack for portages—try and pack lightweight
- Bug spray
- Rain gear
- Fishing equipment (NYS license is required)
How to access the Floodwood Pond Loop
From the Village of Saranac Lake, follow State Rt. 86 north; make a left onto Rt. 186 at blinking yellow light. Rt. 186 turns into State Rt. 30. Follow Rt. 30 past golf course, Floodwood Rd. will be immediately after golf course on right. Bear left at the mailboxes on Floodwood Rd. and drive until you reach St. Regis Canoe Outfitters’ Floodwood Outpost. Put-in is at the state canoe launch on Floodwood Pond. The launch is 4.1 miles down Floodwood Rd. from State Rt. 30. Parking area and SRCO’s Floodwood Outpost are located about 100 yards from the put-in on Floodwood Pond; parking is free. Floodwood Rd. is 12.4 miles from downtown Saranac Lake. The put-in on Floodwood Pond is located 16.5 miles from downtown Saranac Lake.
Floodwood Rd. is a graded multi-use gravel road. Expect to meet bird watchers, campers, bicyclists, and families walking in the road.
Your route around the Floodwood Pond Loop
The Floodwood Pond Loop is run in a counter-clockwise direction and includes small ponds and narrow creeks. The route is all flatwater paddling. There are 5 portages total, the longest are 0.75 mile and 0.5 mile. All other portages are under 0.25 mile.
The route begins on Floodwood Pond at the state launch, about 100 yards from the parking area. From Floodwood Pond one enters the mouth of Fish Creek. Paddling down Fish Creek one arrives in Little Square Pond. After a short paddle across Little Square Pond one enters back into Fish Creek which flows into Fish Creek Ponds. On Fish Creek Ponds are state campgrounds. Motor boats are permitted on these ponds but the campgrounds offer toilets and running water.
From Fish Creek Ponds one paddles up Spider Creek into Follensby Clear Pond. On the northern end of Follensby Clear Pond is the first portage of the trip to Polliwog Pond. After a short paddle on Polliwog Pond parties encounter their next portage. This 0.5 mile portage to Hoel Pond does cross Floodwood Rd. and caution should be exercised. From Hoel Pond one paddles across to their next portage.
A short carry up and over a defunct railroad will lead paddlers into Turtle Pond and the St. Regis Canoe Area. Crossing Turtle Pond brings parties to Slang Pond which is connected by a very short, shallow creek. From Slang, paddlers have a flat 0.25 mile portage to Long Pond. From Long Pond, paddlers find their final portage of the trip. The 0.75 mile, fairly hilly, portage leads parties back to their cars.
Why go canoe tripping in the Adirondacks?
With several other smaller ponds surrounding the route, and most of them being only a short portage away, there are numerous chances for exploration, different fishing opportunities, or places to relax and swim. Long Pond Mountain on Long Pond, with a trailhead accessible by canoe or kayak only, is a highly recommended side hike along the route. From the mostly bald summit one can see almost the entire area that they have paddled and many other mountains and bodies of water in the area. There are several other flat side hikes along the route as well. Numerous sandy shorelines and islands make for perfect lunch and swim spots along the whole trip. Additionally, be sure to keep one’s eyes open as moose, bear, many species of birds, including bald eagles, fishers, beavers, otters, deer, and several other smaller critters all frequent the area they like to call home.
Come prepared for your canoe trip
Black fly season is from mid-May to mid-June in the Adirondacks. Strong bug spray is a must and head nets are recommended at this time of year. It is not uncommon for the temperatures to dip into the 40s or lower at night in the Adirondacks, even during July and August. Be prepared with plenty of layers and a warm sleeping bag. Make sure all food is properly stored with a bear barrel or a proper bear hang.
For more information on Adirondack canoe trips:
St. Regis Canoe Outfitters