The 20 Best Backcountry Lakes: Fish and Long Ponds

St. Regis Canoe Area, Northern Adirondacks, New York

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When your paddle slices through glassy water as the morning mist lifts from the surface, revealing a golden sky, you know canoeing was the right choice—even if you had to carry the boat on your shoulders for 5 total miles. There’s nothing easy about this pond-hopping route through the northern Adirondacks (known by locals as “The Nine Carries”), but during the 10 miles you’re actually in your boat, you’ll get myriad quiet lakes to yourself—as well as fishing opportunities and a soundtrack headlined by coyotes, crickets, and frogs. Start from the boat access on Little Clear Pond, heading counterclockwise. Spend day one at Fish Pond for, you guessed it, fishing (for brookies), then bed down in the east-facing (hello, sunrise) lean-to on the pond’s north end. Day two, continue on to Long Pond, where you can cast a line for smallmouth bass from a sandy beach on the northeast end and camp on a peninsula nearby. Go-getters will knock the trip out in a few days, but Dave Cilley, owner of St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, says to give yourself four (spend an extra night at Long).

Trailhead Little Clear Pond (44.354158, -74.292002) Season June through October Permits Required (free) for trips longer than three nights Boat St. Regis Canoe Outfitters (starting at $49 per day;