I scoot my loaded-down kayak across a boardwalk in bursts: two steps, one tug, repeat. Balancing a boat on a skinny platform above a swamp is hard enough, but add in exhausted muscles that threaten to quit and crimson foliage that is altogether distracting, and the 8.2-mile Seven Carries Route seems near-impossible. One more pull and I peer through an opening in the birches to St. Regis Pond, a 400-acre cerulean pool flanked by mountains draped in fall’s reds and oranges. Suddenly I don’t feel so tired.
Distance: 8.2 miles
Time: 2 days
From Little Clear Pond
(1) Link Little Clear, St. Regis, Green, Little Long, Bear, and Bog Ponds in a 5.2-mile, north-northwest path via five (flat) carries.
(2) Portage .1 mile east to to Upper St. Regis Lake.
(3) Paddle .8 mile across to the mouth of Spitfire Lake.
(4) Enter Spitfire and continue 1.2 miles to the channel on the northeast end.
(5) Continue into Lower St. Regis Lake and paddle .9 mile north to the take-out at Paul Smith’s College.
Little Long Pond (mile 4)
Enjoy the views at popular St. Regis Pond, but push on to Little Long Pond for solitude. Aim for site #5 (first-come, first-serve), and set up your tent on a small peninsula with views of the narrow pond and surrounding evergreens. Listen for loon wails at night.
Fall color typically peaks the first week of October. Dial in your camera’s settings for the portage between Little Clear and St. Regis Ponds: Bright-red birches create a corridor that leads to 2,874-foot St. Regis Mountain splotched with red and orange.
The missing carry
This route features six carries—not seven. It was originally used by guides during the late 1800s to shuttle wealthy tourists between the Saranac Inn and Paul Smith’s Hotel. Their route began at Little Green Pond, requiring a portage to today’s starting point at Little Clear Pond.
No portage pack? Canoe: Flip the boat upside-down and rest its seats on your and your partner’s packs (while wearing them). Kayaks: Keep them loaded with your gear while one person grabs both bowlines and the other the sterns. Or drag. Note: This route is too rocky and rooty for canoe wheels.
Shuttle Car 44.433182, -74.252109; 12 miles northwest of Saranac Lake off Adirondack Park Rd. on the Paul Smith’s College campus. Commercial option: Contact St. Regis Canoe Outfitters (canoeoutfitters.com). Trailhead 44.359274, -74.294014; 10 miles south of Paul Smith’s off Fish Hatchery Rd. Permits None Custom mapbit.do/7CarriesContactbit.do/StRegisCanoeAreaTrip databackpacker.com/7Carries
- State: NY
- City: Albany, NY
- Distance: 8.2
- Contact: bit.do/StRegisCanoeArea
- Land Type: Other