The Adirondack Mountain Club Canoe and Kayak Guide: East-Central New York State is the fourth in a series of guides to the canoeable waters of the state. It replaces ADK’s Adirondack Canoe Waters: South Flow and is chock-full of good information.
Unlike its predecessor, this guidebook ranges far beyond the Blue Line to describe major rivers and tributaries in central and eastern New York and western Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Its focus, however, remains the Adirondacks. The Adirondack waters covered include the Hudson, Cedar, Miami, Boreas, Schroon and Sacandaga rivers, Cheney Pond, West Canada Creek, and Northwest Bay Brook on Lake George.
Editors Kathie Armstrong and Chet Harvey have been paddling together for 25 years, braving whitewater in such far-flung places as Canada’s Northwest Territories, the Arctic and Norway. But their home waters lie in the Adirondack Park, and their knowledge of the region is reflected in the useful details of their guidebook.
The waterway maps are the book’s outstanding feature. These stand on their own in providing paddlers sufficient information for most trips. They are detailed, yet easy to read. Pertinent landmarks, roads, launch and take-out sites, carries, ledges, falls, rapids, dams, bridges and campgrounds are all shown.
The descriptions include the length of each route, vertical drop, difficulty ratings and driving directions to access points. The book notes aesthetic concerns, such as traffic noise, and physical impediments, such as beaver dams or strainers. It describes the highlights of each excursion and the character of the waterway and the surrounding terrain.
Local knowledge can be invaluable. Consider this tidbit regarding the Schroon River between Starbuckville and Riverbank, contributed by Al Fairbanks: “This portion of the river is generally runnable when the gate on the dam at Starbuckville is open. Water levels usually remain high enough for paddling until Memorial Day. Paddlers have found that counting the stones above water on the upstream east side of the iron bridge just above the takeout serves as an informal gauge of water levels. … Eleven or twelve stones above the river level indicate good paddling; 13 is low; 10 is high, and less than 10 is flood stage.”
We also learn about places of special interest. Larry and Esther Denham say of West Canada Creek: “Paddlers should not leave the valley without viewing it from above. NY 29, heading east from Middleville, climbs high above the surroundings for a stunning view. Here on Barto Hill you are 1,000 ft. above the river and can see the West Canada Valley sweep down into the Mohawk Valley.”
I found that the descriptions of the waters that I’ve paddled, including the Cedar, Schroon and Kunjamuk Rivers and Cheney Pond, coincided with what I observed in the field.
Though the book includes a range of waters from flat to fast, it’s weighted more toward rivers than lakes, ponds and meandering streams. As a flatwater connoisseur, I’d like to see more coverage of the wealth of quiet waters in the region. Maybe in future editions. At 5½-by-8 inches, this guidebook may not be compact enough to always carry in the field. You may want to photocopy the pages that cover your trip and protect them in a waterproof bag.