Easy access to a remote Adirondack experience
LAKE CLEAR — One of the best things about the Adirondacks is how quickly you can get to a place that feels like the middle of nowhere, and the St. Regis Canoe Area offers plenty of opportunities to feel like that.
So on a somewhat chilly morning recently, my wife and son met friends of ours for a half-day paddle that started and ended with some of the calmest loons we’ve ever seen.
Setting out from the Little Clear Pond access point near the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Adirondack Fish Hatchery, our two canoes, four adults, three kids and a dog set out for the far end of the pond.
Little Clear Pond is not in the Canoe Area, but in some ways it is more protected than even those sacrosanct waterbodies. Little Clear Pond serves as a brood stock pond, so there is no fishing allowed, nor are there any designated campsites or picnic areas.
But with an abundance of fish, there are plenty of avian fishers looking for a meal, including a number of loons. As we were loading the boats, a pair of the black and white birds surfaced near the launch and made it clear that they were in no hurry to avoid us.
Paddling northeast past a pair of islands, we were aided by a moderate breeze which kept the bugs down — a welcome reprieve that would not help us as we exited the boats to get to our second pond.
In the northwest corner of Little Clear Pond, there is a short carry to Grass Pond. It’s small, but with kids in tow it seemed best to keep our trip on the shorter side.
As quickly as we could, we carried the canoes and gear to Grass Pond. The take-out on Little Clear was in good shape, but as soon as our shoes touched the shore, the black flies and mosquitoes swarmed.
The short-ish carry (0.12 miles) was in good shape, but there were a couple of spots where the trees were tight enough together to make the carrying difficult. It still only took a few minutes, but that extra time negotiating trees directly equated to increased blood loss from the sucking (and sucky) insects.
We launched the canoes onto Grass Pond without delay, and again the breeze helped as we moved away from shore. Although you can see the entirety of Grass Pond from the carry, the small pond offered some treats.
After making our way around the pond, I noticed a small painted turtle sunning itself on a log. My wife and I maneuvered the canoe closer and to my surprise, the turtle did not slide off into the water. Its shell was caked with dried pollen and after a chilly morning, the rising sun must have felt good on its back.
We spent about a half-hour on Grass Pond and decided to head back to Little Clear for lunch. Although the bugs were still bad, the wind had picked up and offered some protection while we were still on shore.
The kids played with sticks and ate lunch with dirty hands, and despite a few lulls in the wind that allowed the insects to make their move, lunch went by unrushed.
We all hopped back into our boats and again moved away from shore. We went to the far west bay of Little Clear and then made our way southeast around a point and back toward the launch.
On our way back, we noticed one of the loons lounging in the water. Taking what appeared to be a mid-day nap, the loon had its bill tucked under one wing and again paid us no mind as we paddled by and back to the car.