If you are not in to risking your neck, the perfect paddling guide is Barbara McMartin’s Fun on Flatwater: An Introduction to Adirondack Canoeing. This is my favorite sort of adventuring, for contrary to what seems to be the vogue these days, true adventure does not require a near-death experience. Pity those compelled to trek up Everest, hang from cliff faces or kayak down Peru’s Colca River, plunging down 20-foot waterfalls. Such activities are more about proving oneself than discovering and relating to the out-of- doors.
Fun on Flatwater is a good, usable guide delineating the many miles of pristine and placid waters, with descriptions of wildlife and much practical advice on how to handle beaver dams, a tipped canoe, the search for campsites or reading a river’s current.
Among my personal favorites here is the Chubb River just outside Lake Placid. It is a magical stream, slow-moving and tannin-colored with panoramic views of Nye and Street mountains shifting constantly as the stream snakes back and forth. The Osgood River, which empties into Meacham Lake, is another gem that offers many surprises to first-time paddlers. Its series of tiny tributaries, which slice through the steep esker that borders much of the river, entices paddlers into remote and silent ponds ringed by massive white pine. This otherworldly little stream was among the first I ever traveled and set the standard in my mind for perfection on Adirondack waters.