LEWEY LAKE & MIAMI RIVER paddling

Lewey Lake is on NY Route 30 between Speculator and the hamlet of Indian Lake. You can pay a day use fee at the state camp-ground and use the boat launch next to the swimming beach or put in on the lake’s out-let where it goes under Route 30. A long ridge of mountains is immediately across the lake; Lewey and Snowy mountains rise over 2,000 feet above the water. I like to cross over to the undeveloped west shore then head south. The campground and several houses and cabins occupy the east shore. Loons are usually seen (five on a recent trip including at least one juvenile) and sometimes heard.

The mouth of the Miami River is small but not too hard to find. Swamp maples growing in this wide wetland valley turn bright red and contrast with the green marsh grass. The river (actually more stream than river) twists and turns with very few straight sections of any length – I hope you have been practicing your maneuvering strokes. I’ve seen four otters here as well as bear scat and tracks (bears might like the elderberries you see at stream side). Wood ducks are common and if you are lucky you might spot a northern harrier (marsh hawk) flying low over the wetland looking for a delectable morsel.

Eventually you will arrive at a beaver dam – you can turn around here for a short trip or continue on with the adventure. On my most recent visit we hopped over a dozen beaver dams and a couple of small log jams, a round-trip of about seven hours. There are not too many good dry places to land en route so if you see a fair lunch spot take it. As you paddle away from civiliza-tion the upland forest slowly draws closer on both sides. A path comes in from Mason Lake and crosses a beaver dam and continues west – as hard as I looked on this last trip I could only see the continuation west. We paddled a bit further but the stream became very narrow and the alders hung tightly over it.

A light current helped a little on the return and the view of Snowy Mountain resplendent in its fall attire offered a distraction from tiring arms. A quick swim at the beach can be a great way to end the day.

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