Happy Paddling

By Mark Hopper, Retired teacher & recreational outdoorsman.

Couple Paddling

Wherever you are in the Capital Region, you aren’t far from the water. The big lakes and rivers have their attraction for the power boats, but if its smooth waters and a quiet setting you enjoy, then a paddle in a kayak or canoe is only minutes away from your front door.

Don’t forget your life vest!

PEEBLES ISLAND, WATERFORD  

Picnic on the island or walk to some of the quaint lunch spots a few blocks away. You can’t go around the island completely but it makes a nice tour of the “gateway to the west” at historic lock 1 of the Erie Canal.

MOHAWK RIVER

Several segments of the river from Clifton Park at Route 9 to Rotterdam between locks make for some nice longer paddles. Paddle under the Twin Bridges and pas the Aqueduct arches in Rexford. High school rowing teams train here in the afternoon and the wildlife will surprise you. Check out the new casino in Schenectady and explore the islands of the five nations near Scotia Bridge.

FISH CREEK, SARATOGA SPRINGS

A few miles off the Northway at the north end of Saratoga Lake is a NYS access launch. It can be busy and there is a fee for parking but the outlet of Fish Creek gets quiet fast. Take it all the way to the outlet dam or stop at the little marina opposite the Skidmore rowing shed for a snack and go back. Lots of birds on this stretch too!

KAYADEROSSERAS CREEK, BALLSTON SPA

The inlet to Saratoga Lake begins in Ballston Spa at the park by the town pool. You’ll need two cards for this one. It is a little more adventurous with some rippling water and downed trees. Proceed with caution and steer wide of obstructions, best done when the water is higher in the spring or after a heavy rainfall. Finish at the Saratoga Lake at the state launch site.

ROUND LAKE

Right on Route 9, parking is tight right on the shoulder but access is easy. More like a large pond this lake makes for great fishing. The outlet is on the east side and can be explored in the spring. Eagles have nested here and Herons are common. Finish the dinner in town and stroll in this quaint village.

BALLSTON LAKE

The parking lot is a few hundred yards from the dock but you can unload your craft at a spot by the Outlet Road Bridge. It’s three miles end to end, best paddled in the morning before the water skiers start up. Early spring paddlers might be able to meander through the outlet opposite the lake to see beavers or the heron rookery.