Skip to main content

Lower Schroon River

The Lower Schroon from Schroon Lake to the Hudson (27 miles) is a mixture of long flatwater stretches punctuated by whitewater. Adjacent roads provide easy access at points along the way, but go unnoticed while on the tree-lined, secluded river.


It's never a dull moment here. For example, there is the exciting Class III whitewater, such as "The Big Drop," which you may want to scout before running.


The stretches of flatwater are a relaxing medium between the big water on Schroon Lake and the whitewater rapids.

Find out more

Read about this paddle in the blog, Return to Schroon River.

Rich Lake and Lake Harris

Loons, mink, pine marten, otter, moose, beaver, deer, and red fox are just some of the wildlife that you may encounter at the lake. Lake Harris and Rich Lake is beautiful gems in the Adirondack Hub!

How to get there

To get to Lake Harris launch from Overlook Park in Newcomb, head west on Route 28N toward Long Lake. After 2.5 miles, turn right onto Beach Road and the launch is on the right.


Lake Harris does have motorboats, but it's an absolutely beautiful lake to paddle. Connecting to Lake Harris is Rich Lake, on Adirondack Interpretive Center property. Belden Lake separates Lake Harris and Rich Lake. Paddling from one lake to the other requires portages, but all are less than 300 yards. Along the way you'll see many historical landmarks!


Popular fish species here are: smallmouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch, brown bullhead, and pumpkinseed.

Ice Fishing

Lake Harris now supports a self-sustaining population of walleye after being experimentally stocked from 2004 until 2008. Also known for its quality panfishing.

Species: Northern pike, yellow perch, walleye.

Courtney and Shingletree Ponds

Courtney and Shingletree ponds are two small bodies of water in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest. You won't miss Courtney Pond; it sits right on the edge of the road. It is very scenic with lily pads and abundant wildlife. 

Getting there

The trailhead is located on Route 9, 0.2 miles south of the Sharp Bridge Campground. Courtney Pond is located right beside the road, so it is not easily missed. Park at a small roadside lot next to Courtney Pond.

Hiking and snowshoeing

This end-to-end hike, only 1.1 miles one way, runs from from Courtney Pond to Shingletree Pond along a trail with minor elevation changes. It is full of lovely terrain, and features a tunnel that runs under the Northway. The narrow path goes from the Hammond Pond Wild Forest to the Dix Mountain Wilderness. It ends at Shingletree Pond.

This path gets little use, so take care to stay on the trail.

In winter, this path would make a nice snowshoe to stretch your legs.


Both ponds are small, but offer classic Adirondack scenery. These are good choices for days when it might be windier on larger bodies of water. There is a hand launch at Courtney Pond. Shingletree is surrounded by dead and down trees and may be harder to access with no official launch.


Courtney and Shingletree ponds are reclaimed trout ponds, so the use of fish as bait is illegal. Shingletree mat be fished easier from shore than a boat, due to access. Courtney, however, has a nice hand launch and is easily accessible.

Spectacle Pond

This wonderful hike and area not to be missed!

Getting there

To get here, take Exit 28 off of Interstate 87 and follow Route 9 south toward Schroon Lake. Continue for 0.6 miles and turn onto Alder Meadow Road and follow that to East Shore Road and continue for 2.75 miles to the trailhead on the left. 


The trail to Spectacle Pond is easy and it's perfect for an afternoon jaunt or a family outing. A slight climb from the trailhead goes past Beaver Meadow Hill before descending to cross Shanty Brook, a pleasant backcountry stream. From here, another slight climb leads to Spectacle Pond, where the trail continues along the south shore for better views. The mountainous terrain around the pond gives it a really interesting feel, with stellar vistas to boot. 

  • Elevation gain: 300 feet
  • Distance round trip: 3.4 miles


Paddlers will need to carry a canoe or kayak the 1.7 miles to this pond. What you see from the water is a mass of imposing cliffs. Make sure that you visit on a clear day.

  • Size: 33 acres


There is plenty of shoreline fishing available. Paths lead partway around the pond to access other areas. The northern end of the pond is quite marshy and not good for shoreline fishing, but most of the other sides are good. There are great camping areas on this pond. Use them for an overnight and have fun catching bullhead.

  • Fish species present: bullhead, brown trout

Always follow New York state fishing regulations and be sure to pick up a NYS Freshwater Fishing Guide at your local outfitters or regional NYSDEC office.


There are backcountry camping sites around the pond.

Balfour Lake

To reach the shore you will need to carry downhill on a gentle grade. The gravel grade is sloped for handicap access with two rest stops along the way. The launch is well-graded and flat for easy access as well. Balfour Mountain rises high above on the opposite shore and with its slopes being mostly hardwood this paddle is one fine afternoon's outing in the fall of the year. 

Half of the shore is private property so if you want to get out to stretch your legs be sure to remain on state land.  

How to get there

From exit 28 in Schroon Lake follow I-87 north for one exit to the North Hudson exit, #29. From here follow Boreas Road west toward Newcomb. Continue all the way to Newcomb and Route 28N. Take a left onto 28N and continue for around 8.5-miles to the lake access on the right.


It's about a 200 foot carry on a gravel path (handicap accessible) to a canoe/kayak/SUP launch. No motorboats are allowed to launch here. Balfour is a narrow lake that is well-sheltered and under most days is quite calm  Shoreline length is approximately 2.75 miles.

Brant Lake

The only access for canoe or kayak is the concrete state boat launch off Route 8. There is ample parking here, but during busy weekends it can get a bit cramped. Aside from the launch area the entire shore of Brant Lake is private property so please respect the private land owners.  

Once on the water it actually is a very attractive lake. Head right downstream through the narrows for an interesting look at the community. Head to the far northern end of the lake and enter the wetland area and paddle through the marsh for some stellar views of the mountains towering above.  

  • Approximate Shoreline Length: 16.0 miles
  • Type of launch: Concrete
  • Portage/Carry Details: Less than 100 feet
  • Type of water: While long and narrow it can get a bit choppy out there especially in the widest potions of the lake. Motorboats are allowed so be cautious.  

Getting there

From Schroon Lake get on I-87 and head south to Exit 25 and take a left and head east on Route 8 toward Brant Lake. Continue for just under 4-miles to the state access boat launch on the left.  


There is a small bit of shore fishing available at the state launch site. The remaining portion of the shoreline is private. While limited in this area, it’s not a bad place to cast a line. The weeds do tend to house some bass than can be caught from the dock.  

Rock Pond

This pond is one the most picturesque ponds in the area and should be enjoyed at length.

Getting there

From the intersection of Route 9 and Route 74 near Schroon Lake follow Route 74 toward Ticonderoga. Continue to Putts Pond Road on the right (entrance road for Putnam Pond State Campground). Drive this to the end to access the campground and the pond. A day use fee will be required. The portage trail is from North Pond from the northern bay.

By the numbers

  • 2.0 miles from campground (300 feet of elevation gain)
  • 0.5 miles from North Pond to Rock Pond    


This is a sand launch and there's a half mile carry from North Pond to Rock Pond with decent footing. The carry is well marked. Rock Pond is well sheltered and calm. No motorboats are allowed.

You will need to paddle through Putnam Pond and into North Pond to access the carry trail for Rock Pond. The trail is located in the northern bay and is well marked. Follow this trail past another intersection and launch on the northwestern bay of the pond. Several rock outcroppings offer interesting areas to go ashore and the rocky slopes of the mountains will try and persuade you to climb them. There is a hiking trail around the entire length of the pond which provide access to other hiking trails if you wish to extend your outing. 

Cheney Pond

Looking for a backcountry pond that doesn't require a lot of work to get to? If so, Cheney Pond is perfect for you! It's all peaceful wild forest and beautiful scenery. Visitors in any season can enjoy a variety of activities, including: hiking, fishing, paddling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and camping. Make Cheney Pond your destination for the day, or combine it with a longer hike for more time on the trail.

How to get there

To get here, follow Blue Ridge Road (County Road 84) toward Newcomb from Exit 29 off I-87. It is 13.4 mile to the trailhead parking area on the left. The "trail" to Cheney Pond follows an old access road, and while travel is permitted, it it not recommended. At first, the access road appears to be a fine gravel road, but soon deteriorates with washouts, ruts, and extremely muddy sections. No worries though; it's only about a half mile walk to the pond with minimal elevation change.

By the numbers

  • Round trip distance: about 1 mile
  • Elevation loss: about 150 feet 


Follow the old access road turned into an easy trail to a camping, picnic, and launch area at the pond. The hike is quite easy and all downhill to the pond. The wide trail is colorful in wildflower season. You will pass by an intersection with the trail to Lester Dam at 0.4 miles. Turn left here and the pond is 500 feet away. 


Trout can be easily fished from shore and the bullheads tend to bite all day. There is a shallow bay on the north side of the pond, which is a nice location for panfish and floating a bobber for brookies. Fish species include: brook trout, bullhead, panfish, brown trout, and smallmouth bass. There are plenty of grassy areas where bass are said to hide.


This lovely little pond is part of the Lester Flow. This is a hand launch only. Canoes and kayaks will likely need to be wheeled or carried the half mile to the pond.


Since it is not that long of a trail, this makes for a great snowshoe for beginners or even an excellent place to stretch your legs before a more rigorous adventure. Snowshoeing over a frozen body of water is a winter past time; it can access you to areas not seen by most in the summer. With that being said, it can be a dangerous activity to cross frozen waterbodies and should be done with care and respect for your environment. Know the ice conditions and be prepared for anything, including heavy winds, snow drifts, whiteouts, slushy conditions, and thin ice. 

Cross-country skiing

From the parking to the pond, it is all downhill, so it will be an exciting ski to your destination! Skiing over a frozen body of water is a cross-country skiing past time; it can access you to areas not seen by most in the summer. With that being said it is a dangerous activity to cross frozen water bodies and should be done with care and respect for your environment. Know the ice conditions and be prepared for anything including heavy winds, snow drifts, whiteouts, slushy conditions, and thin ice.


There is a large camping area on the pond, including a lean-to! This is a great choice for those looking to try winter camping. It's remote, yet only a little over a mile round trip to the car parked at the trailhead.

Rankin and Little Rankin Ponds

This short and easy hike ends at a particularly scenic pond. On the northeastern side of the pond is a long finger created by a beaver dam and on the north end of the pond is an attractive wetland where birding could be quite good. While the pond is not all that large you may find yourself relaxing there for quite some time.

How to get there

From exit 28 in Schroon Lake, follow I-87 north for one exit to the North Hudson Exit 29. From here follow Boreas Road west toward Newcomb. Continue to Route 28N and take a left and head toward Minerva. Continue for just under 10 miles to the trailhead on the right, parking is on the left just prior to the trailhead.

By the numbers

  • Distance: 2.2 miles round trip for both ponds, 0.8 miles for Rankin
  • Elevation gain: 280 feet round trip for both ponds


From the parking area cross the road carefully and quickly, as the trailhead is located on a corner where traffic tends to move quickly. Once at the trailhead, you will sign into the trail register and follow the trail behind the register, not the old road to the right. The trail is marked with blue disks. Along the 0.4 mile trail (one way) there is a sweep around a small knob on your right known as Crusher Hill, while not changing much in elevation. There is a slight descent at the end to reach the eastern shore of Rankin Pond.

If you wish to continue to Little Rankin Pond be aware that there is no marked trail or designated route to reach the small back-county body of water. Map and compass and GPS knowledge is highly recommended. Not recommended for inexperienced hikers or children. To continue on to Little Rankin Pond, locate a herd path to your right from the end of Rankin Pond Trail. This anglers herd path is very faint and blowdown does cover it in spots. This herd path will bring you to another small spot with a great view of the pond. The herd path from here starts to become much less apparent and eventually disappears, but keep the pond to your left and continue down the finger to a beaver dam crossing.

Once you cross the beaver dam you will need to make your way through a somewhat open forest and head northwest, keeping the slopes of Rankin Pond Mountain to your right. Remain in the valley. Little Rankin Pond is a quaint little pond with a faint trail, but gives a nice, backcountry, secluded feel.


Most of these species are found during the migration and breeding season. This is considered a lowland boreal forest, with species like Black-backed Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Boreal Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Cape May Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, and Pine Siskin.


At the trailhead there is room for one car to unload a car-top boat, but park across the road (north via a slight curve) at the designated parking area. The trail is narrow, but overall fairly easy with a brief, somewhat steep, drop near the end. This trail is not the best option for a cart; it is recommended that you use a boat that you can carry.

Once on the pond you will have a wonderful secluded paddle, and most likely to yourself. The shoreline length is approximately one mile and the water is well-sheltered/mostly calm.


There is a deep area good for brook trout, and only accessible by boat. As a result, there's not much angler competition. There is a limited amount of shoreline fishing but it’s decent in a few spots. At the end of the trail which is 0.4 miles from the parking area and slightly further along the shore on the east side via a short herd path. At the deepest it is around 20 feet, but the best fishing is had from the deeper portion and the finger on the NE side, which is accessed best by boat.

Fish species: brook trout, bullhead


From the parking area which should be plowed out regularly, you will need to cross the road to access the trail. This trail is a good, mellow introduction to snowshoeing.

Huntley Pond

Getting there

From the intersection of Route 9 and Hoffman Road in Schroon Lake, follow Hoffman Road (CR24). Continue on CR24 which eventually turns into Irishtown Road. Take a right onto O’Neill Road in just over 11 miles from Route 9 and a left onto Longs Hill Road (CR24A) . This will bring you to Route 28N in Minerva in roughly 2 miles. Take a right onto Route 28N for 2.5 miles to Northwoods Club Road on the left. Follow Northwoods Club Road for 6.5 miles to the Blue Ridge Trailhead parking on the right. A cartop boat launch is about 0.2 miles further up the road on the left with limited parking.   


There are a few areas for shoreline fishing; along the Blue Ledge Trail and off Northwoods Club Road. Casting room is limited in many areas making this pond best fished from a canoe or kayak.  

Best fished from a canoe or kayak; motorboats not allowed in the primitive area. The deepest part of the pond is right in the middle of the widest portion on the east end. While brook trout don’t prefer deeper waters it is much easier to cast from a small boat than from shore. The boat will also allow you to access the west end of the pond. The very west end of the pond is private property so please respect. 


The launch is small and a slight carry down but not steep by any means. The eastern shore is private property so please respect. This would be an excellent pond for SUP’s or learning to paddle due to its usually calm features. On really bad weather days it can get choppy but being so close to shore the entire time it’s of no real concern. Enjoy this pond during sunrise as the colors come streaming over the trees, or in fall as the colors pop from the mainly hardwood forests surrounding it.  


You have successfully entered this contest. Be sure to check your inbox for your customized travel inspiration.

Success! Message Sent.

Thanks for being awesome. We have received your message and look forward to talking with you soon.

Thank you!

Thanks for being awesome. You can now download the guide.