Paddling scenic Fall Stream

Paddling the weedy end of Fall Lake. Photo by Phil Brown.
Paddling the weedy end of Fall Lake. Photo by Phil Brown.

A few years ago, the Explorer published a story by Mark Bowie about a canoe trip on Fall Stream, a tributary of Piseco Lake. Mark did the trip with some volunteers from the Adirondack Mountain Club who were investigating the possibility of adding Fall Stream to the state’s Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System.

Mark concluded that all or most of Fall Stream should be classified as Scenic. After paddling the river to Fall Lake and Vly Lake last weekend, I heartily agree.

Most of the river lies within the state Forest Preserve, but the put-in and some of the land upstream are owned by the Irondequoit Club. You paddle upstream to Fall Lake and then Vly Lake, winding through beautiful marshes decorated with pickerelweed, cardinal flower, turtlehead, and other flowers. We saw lots of ducks and a few great blue herons.

I can think of three reasons for adding the stream to the Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System:

1. To give this lovely stream the cachet it deserves.

2. To provide some extra protection against development.

3. To give the state more reason to ban motors from at least part of the stream.

The last would be controversial. Despite beaver dams above Fall Lake, anglers take small motorboats all the way to Vly Lake. On Saturday, we saw three motorboats on the lake. Given the dams and the smallness of the stream, I was rather surprised that they made it that far.

As a compromise, motors could be allowed as far as Fall Lake, which is located about a mile from the put-in. Most of the property in this stretch is private, and the stream is broader. Above Fall Lake, the stream narrows and becomes wilder as it penetrates the interior of the Jessup River Wild Forest.

Directions: From the intersection of NY 8 and NY 30 in Speculator, drive west on NY 8 for nine miles to Old Piseco Road (County 24) on the right. Turn and drive 1.6 miles to the bridge over Fall Stream. The put-in is on the right on the far side of the bridge. Park along the road, being sure not to block the entrance to the put-in.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jackie Brown says

    My husband and myself paddled to Vly Lake on thursday the 15th, from are camp on Piseco Lake.. Thinking it would be less busy on a weekday and we too encountered two motor boats on the water way, and was very surprised..It was the first time we have seen them past Fall Stream Lake.. Still a very beautiful paddle..The day before we did the Kunjamunk Bay to Elm Lake and encountered alot more wild life in that channel and NO motor boats 🙂 ..Even a small black bear drinking from shore and many painted turtles, adults and babies alike.And the hubby said the fishing was the BEST in that channel, catch and release..Love reading everywhere you have been in the ADK..Thanks for posting..

    • Phil says

      Jackie, thanks for the note and for reading the Explorer. I haven’t been on the Kunjamuk yet, but it’s on my list of things to do.

  2. Barb Schirmer says

    We ventured out to the area on Saturday, August 7, 2010 and had the stream entirely to ourselves. It was beautiful. Sunday we kayaked a portion of the Sacandagua River that was equally serene.

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