Top 3 Paddling Treks - Backpacker

Top 3 Paddling Treks

These weekend float trips have side hikes that rival the paddling for scenery and solitude.
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Nancy Lake SRA, AK | Floodwood Pond, NY | Village Creek, TX

There's no better time to hit the water than June, when river levels–and daily temps– are up. Pack up now to enjoy the best of both worlds with these surf-and-turf journeys.

Nancy Lake SRA, AK

Dip into beginner-friendly waters

The Lynx Lake Loop, an eight-mile route just two hours from Anchorage, is a perfect starter course for wilderness paddling in Alaska: no sat-phone or shotgun required. Start at Tanaina Lake and head south to Milo Pond, following orange portage signs in a counterclockwise circuit. In between each of the 14 lakes, short trails (the longest is a half-mile) cut through dense forests sprinkled with Alaskan rose and wild iris. You'll cross honey-colored meadows where brown bears sometimes snack on blueberries–though moose sightings are more common. Hit the primitive campsites between Little Noluck and Big Noluck Lakes. From there you can watch the midnight sun set on one lake while its soft afterglow illuminates the other.

Canoe Rental

Tippecanoe, at the South Rolly Lake Campground (907-495-6688,

The Way From Anchorage, take the Parks Highway 67 miles north. Go 4.5 miles west on Nancy Lake Parkway to the canoe trailhead at Tanaina Lake.

Nancy Lake SRA, AK | Floodwood Pond, NY | Village Creek, TX

Nancy Lake SRA, AK | Floodwood Pond, NY | Village Creek, TX

Photo by George Wuerthner


Floodwood Pond, NY

Paddle your way to mountain peaks

From the top of 2,530-foot Long Pond Mountain, the St. Regis Canoe Wilderness unfolds in a breathtaking maze of interlocking waterways amid thick green forest. The trail to this rarely hiked peak is accessible only by paddling the Floodwood Pond Loop in the northern part of The Adirondack Park, about three hours from Albany. From Floodwood Pond, paddle five miles through eleven small lakes to Follensby Clear and its two-dozen tent sites. The next day, continue six miles northwest past sunlit sandy banks to the base of Long Pond Mountain. Exchange paddle for boots and summit via a steep, 1.6-mile trail. Paddle two hours to the takeout. Or grab one of the two dozen secluded sites tucked between towering pines along the twisting shoreline.

Canoe Rental

St. Regis Canoe Outfitters in Lake Clear (888-775-2925,

The Way

From Seranac Lake, take CR 18 eight miles west to NY 30. Turn south, and head 2.6 miles to Floodwood Road. Turn right and drive four miles to Floodwood Pond.

Nancy Lake SRA, AK | Floodwood Pond, NY | Village Creek, TX

Nancy Lake SRA, AK | Floodwood Pond, NY | Village Creek, TX

Photo by Laurence Parent


Village Creek, TX

Go with the flow in East Texas

Like the Lazy River ride at Six Flags? You'll love the 1.5-mile-per-hour flow along this southeast Texas creek. The 18.5-mile route starts where the TX 418 bridge crosses Village Creek, just outside Kountze. There, 30-foot cliffs laced with cyprus create an intimate vibe. Farther along, tall yellow pines shade the 50-foot-wide passageway. Downstream, the route widens, weaving around sugar-white sandbars flanked by tupelos. Every sandbar is a potential camping spot. But tent up 8.5 miles from the put-in, and you can stretch your legs on a hike into the Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary. Pack binoculars for birding–the red cockaded woodpecker and the shy bachman sparrow feed here. Spring and fall bring the most comfortable weather, but river levels are primo in late May and early June.

Canoe Rental

Piney Woods Outfitters, Lumberton (409-751-0911,

The Way

From Houston, drive 84 miles east on I-10 to TX 96. Turn north and drive 13.5 miles into the town of Lumberton; watch for Village Creek signs at the TX 418 bridge.


Looking for a brand-new boat? Our canoe guide will keep you afloat.

Nancy Lake SRA, AK | Floodwood Pond, NY | Village Creek, TX

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