UPPER HUDSON RIVER and OPALESCENT RIVER paddling, skiing, Adirondack Park.

Feb 29, 2016 - MacINTYRE EAST. Rain showers in the morning. Started on Opalescent Road (dirt), soon arriving at gated bridge over the Hudson River. After skiing the icy road for a third of a mile the Opalescent River comes into view on the L. We left the road & followed a good trail that stayed close to the scenic river - flat & easy skiing. Came to the railroad bridge over the river, nice views from here; the trail continued on the other side of the rr but now hillier - intermediate skiing. The trail pulled away from the river & rejoined Opalescent Rd near a camp. Now on conservation-easement land, public access on the road past the camps is unknown...

Oct 5, 2015 - HUDSON & GOODNOW RIVERS from the Polaris Bridge near Newcomb. Essex Chain Lakes Complex. Below freezing early this morning but warmed to low 60s. Third of a mile carry on dirt road gently downhill to the bridge. There is a campsite on the L a bit before the bridge. Just before the bridge a path leads 100' upstream to a put-in next to a boulder on river R. Blackwell Stillwater is about 3 miles long. Short distance to Goodnow River, got up it for 0.6 miles before rocky shallows after passing a huge boulder, couple of breached beaver dams on the way. 1 mile upstream from the bridge on the Hudson reached long stretch of rapids, stopped for lunch. Back downstream, swift water under the bridge (upstream travel difficult). Cabins of the Polaris club on E shore. 2 miles from bridge to top of rapids, rock-hopped to center of river for better view, a bald eagle flew past. Varied shores, some marsh, beaver ponds & steep forested areas. 8.4 miles.

Oct 4, 2015 - HUDSON & OPALESCENT RIVERS from CR76 bridge. Hudson River gauge in Newcomb at 2.4'. 1.5 miles to S end of Sanford Lake where there were good views of Wallface & the Santanonis, half mile more to mouth of the OR. Got 3 miles up the OR, hard work against the current, had to get out a few times to line the canoe thru shallows. Under railroad bridge at 1.7 miles from HR. Lots of sand/gravel banks offer many places to rest. From HR (between OR & SL) looking N there was a good view of Algonquin, Colden & Marcy. Fall foliage close to peak. 10.2 miles. More details on 7-12-15 trip.

Jul 12, 2015 - OPALESCENT & HUDSON RIVERS. MacIntyre East. Hudson River gauge at Newcomb was at 2.35' this morning - I would not want to do this trip when levels are much lower. Started at the bridge over the Hudson at Opalescent Rd, a dirt logging road & gated (at the bridge) access to hunting camps. Upstream 1 mile on the shallow (1-1.5' deep) Hudson against a noticeable current soon passing the mouth of the OR to Sanford Lake, a widening of the river. Before reaching the lake there is a great mountain view incl. firetower on Adams + Algonquin, Colden & Marcy. From the S end of the lake Wallface seen to the N & Santanoni to the W. Back down the HR & up the OR. Got 3.7 miles up the Opalescent passing under rr bridge at less than half way. Had to line boats several times thru shallows (but only once going back downstream). Current was light to moderate. Lots of bends with sand/pebble banks for break &/or swim. Views of the North River Mountain range which rises over 2,000' above the river to the SE. Got out & viewed the river from the RR bridge. Back to the start, shuttled cars 1 mile S on CR25 then paddled downstream on the Hudson. Expected to go 2 miles on the river; realized we had missed the best take-out spot after going 2.5 miles so turned around & paddled upstream. "Best" take-out was a steep 100 yard bushwhack!. A great semi-epic outing. 13.4 miles, 7.5 hours. Swift Keewaydin 15 solo canoe.

In April, New York State purchased the 6,200 acre MacIntyre East tract from The Nature Conservancy (formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn). This parcel contains over 5 miles of the upper Hudson River not far from its source as well as 7 miles of the Opalescent River and is located east of County Route 25, the dead-end road that ends at Upper Works and a popular trailhead accessing the Adirondack High Peaks area from the south.
An area with clear water rivers surrounded by mountains that rise up to 3,600' above those waters makes for a very attractive paddling destination. On a hot day in July a group of us from the Albany Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club drove up to see what the area has to offer.
From Boreas Road (CR 2) we drove north on CR 25 for 4.4 miles, took a right onto Opalescent Road and very quickly reached a locked gate ahead of a bridge over the Hudson River. There was room for several cars to squeeze in off this dirt road. As I understand it, the public is currently allowed to walk this dirt road for 1.75 miles past the bridge; beyond that, access is allowed only for private logging operations and to camp lessees.
I carried my solo canoe across the bridge and launched below it. Launching above the bridge might have been a better option so as to avoid the quickwater that flowed under the bridge. A few mosquitoes bothered us here but once on the water we were bug-free. Our first goal was Sanford Lake, a widening of the Hudson River, which is a mile upstream from the bridge. We soon passed the mouth of the Opalescent River and paddled against a moderate current in water that was only a foot to a foot and a half deep.
After going 0.8 miles and a little before before the lake we enjoyed an excellent view of Mount Adams with its fire tower and peaking over its shoulder was Algonquin Peak, the second highest mountain in New York state; Mount Colden and mighty Mount Marcy, the state's highest, were also clearly visible. From the south end of the lake one could see the cliffs of Wallface to the north and the Santanoni Range to the west. We spent a few minutes sitting in our canoes admiring our surroundings.
We then headed back down the Hudson and turned into the Opalescent River. As is typical of Adirondack streams the Opalescent takes a convoluted course but uniquely characteristic of the Opalescent are the many sand and pebble banks that seem to exist at every turn - these make for great spots to take a break or to go for a swim. The current was light to moderate and I had to get out and walk my canoe through pebbly shallows several times but, for the most part, the water ranged from one to five feet deep.
At 1.7 miles from the Hudson we paddled under a railroad bridge that used to serve the titanium mine at Tahawus (operations at the mine ended in 1989). I was happy to find a few ripe blueberries as I was clambering up to the tracks. The views of the river from the bridge upstream (with Allen Mountain in the background) and downstream were lovely.
At the two mile mark we stopped on a sandy bank for lunch; the shade of an overhanging maple provided respite from the sun. The North River Mountains rose up in front of us to the southeast. Most of us also went for a cool swim at the sandy-bottomed pool below.
We pushed on upriver and had to get out to walk our boats over more shallow areas. After traveling 3.75 miles from the Hudson the east shore grew steeper, a sloping rock was at river's edge and just past that was a dune-like sand bank, the largest that we encountered on our route. At this point we were perhaps only a quarter mile east of the tailings at the old mine but we could just as well have been in the middle of nowhere.
After studying maps and satellite images I knew that the river's gradient started to increase above this point. I was happy getting up as far as we had gone and it was time to turn back. Paddling downstream my canoe lightly scraped rocks in the shallows and I only needed to get out once. It took us one and a half enjoyable hours to ride the current back out to the Hudson. I did not see much wildlife but the sounds of white-throated sparrows and hermit thrushes emanated from the mostly deciduous woods.
Back at the start, after traveling 9.8 miles to this point, the explorer in me wanted to experience the Hudson River below the bridge. I persuaded a couple of companions to continue downstream while others drove the cars a mile south on CR 25.
The Hudson River here arcs away from the road before returning toward the road after about two miles. The river is wider than the Opalescent and travels between coniferous shores of cedar, black spruce and the occasional tall white pine. Black-capped chickadees called out from the woods as we passed by.
Not seeing the cars we continued at least a half mile past where the road came nearest to the river but after consulting maps and GPS we felt it best to paddle back upstream against a light current. We explored two routes back to the road, neither of which we liked; at best expect a 100 yard uphill bushwhack, at worst a wet mucky bushwhack thru a tangled thicket. I was very glad to have seen this section of the Hudson though.
Our total distance for the day was 13.4 miles and we spent over seven hours out in this very scenic area.
The Hudson River gauge at Newcomb was at 2.35' this morning - I'm not sure how this relates to the water levels upstream of Newcomb but I would not want to do this trip when levels are much lower. Just a few days after this trip the level at the gauge was well below two feet. I would guess that a gauge level of 2.5 to 3 feet would be ideal for a trip up the Opalescent - perhaps I should plan a return trip in the fall.

Sep 20 - HARRIS LAKES & HUDSON RIVER in Newcomb.  It's leaf-peeping time....early fall color.  This website makes it sound like an easy trip between Harris & Rich Lakes - we found at least 4 rapids between the 2 lakes from class 1 to class 3 (if enough water)!  Geese, ducks, kingfishers, herons, yellowlegs, loon.  Couple of small motorboats not too obtrusive; can't say same for the couple of jetskis on Harris - Hudson River was best part of trip.  Nice High Peaks views from Hudson River a mile S of Rt.28N bridge.  Some development on S shore of Harris.  11 miles, 5 hours.  

Sep 25 - LAKE HARRIS & HUDSON RIVER in Newcomb.  Put in at boat launch on Lake Harris Rd.  A shallow channel leads from the lake to the river.  Downstream (Vanderwhacker Mt. stands out) on Hudson to Long Falls Rapids, turned around to view Marcy, Algonquin & other High peaks; upstream to rapids under bridge.  Circuited the lake.  Loon.  S shore of lake has moderate development.  Foliage colors approaching peak.  8 miles, 3.8 hours.  Swift Saranac 14.6, a 14'6" touring kayak for the larger paddler.

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