NEW YORK PADDLING GUIDEBOOKS

New York offers the paddler a mindboggling variety and quantity of paddling destinations, from small streams to big rivers, diminutive ponds to expansive lakes, and whitewater as well as flatwater. Fortunately for us, these destinations are well-documented in the plethora of guidebooks available today. At the cost of a movie ticket or dinner at a restaurant, a one-time purchase of a guidebook can bring you many years of pleasure, whereas the movie or dinner offer just an hour or two of satisfaction. If you can’t be out there paddling, you can at least spend time with some of the following guidebooks and start planning that day paddle or weeklong camping trip. In my comments I will try to give you an overview of the content as well as my thoughts on each book’s strengths and weaknesses.

Quiet Water New York by John Hayes and Alex Wilson – This is perhaps the best flatwater guide to the whole state with 90 trips listed in an informative, yet relaxed style. The first edition covered mostly ponds and small to medium-sized lakes but this second edition has added a few streams and is a better representation of what New York has to offer. There are lots of choices here from the Adirondacks, plus western and southeastern parts of the state, but not much in the Capital District or Catskills.

Canoeing and Kayaking New York by Kevin Stiegelmaier – This book offers 50 trips primarily on streams and rivers, mostly flatwater, but also some easy whitewater like the Delaware River. Many of these paddles require shuttles and clear directions are given. There is a striking difference between such choices as the semi-remote Osgood River in the Adirondacks and the metropolitan lower Hudson River in the New York City area – the East and Bronx rivers are also covered. A bit of a curious collection but you might find several trips of interest here.

Adirondack Paddling: 65 Great Flatwater Adventures by Phil Brown – This is a great up-to-date collection of mostly day paddling destinations – not that you couldn’t overnight it on many of these trips – into the wilder areas of the Adirondacks. Color photographs add to this book’s appeal and to the appeal of the waterways included here. The book has a nice blend of stream and lake paddling, featuring old favorites like Lake Lila, as well as newly-accessible areas like Cedarlands.

Adirondack Paddler’s Guide by Dave Cilley – This attractive book appeals mostly to the tripper, someone looking to spend a few days or weeks on the water, and covers in good detail the northwestern half of the Adirondacks. The introduction gives us plenty of information relating to rules and regulations specific to the Adirondack Park. I may wish for a better description of a portage, and wonder why an interesting side-trip has been left out, but these are minor quibbles as there is so much great information here. The author owns St. Regis Canoe Outfitters in Saranac Lake. While there are good maps in the book, the companion Adirondack Paddler’s Map, is also worth purchasing for its detailed locations of portages and campsites.

Adirondack Canoe Waters North Flow by Paul Jamieson and Donald Morris – Now approaching classic status, this was the tripper’s guide until the Dave Cilley book arrived on the scene in 2008. The authors provide more background and history in a manner that exhibits their immense passion for paddling and the Adirondacks. The maps in this book are simple, and the photographs are black and white, but augment the book with the Adirondack Paddler’s Map and you have many weeks of exploration to anticipate.

Fun On Flatwater: An Introduction to Adirondack Canoeing by Barbara McMartin – This basic gem from the original author of the Discover the Adirondacks series of guidebooks exposes the day-tripper to a great variety of stream, pond and lake trips. The descriptions are unusually brief if you are familiar with the rest of Barbara McMartin’s work, but her destination selections for this book are choice. Old standards like Lake Lila and the Kunjamuk River are here, and for the soft campers out there, waters adjacent to NYSDEC campgrounds are covered too. As a bonus, the introduction includes a section of canoeing instruction in such simple terms that no one should be seen “goon-stroking” a canoe after this read. Add to this a price of $12.50 and you have one the best bargains available.

Discover the Northwestern Adirondacks by Barbara McMartin and Bill Ingersoll – The Discover series of books might be of most interest to the hiker and winter wanderer than the paddler, but many of the books in this series also include paddling destinations. I’m singling out the Northwestern book for its excellent coverage of some most-desirable paddling areas like the Oswegatchie River, Stillwater Reservoir, Lows Lake, Lake Lila and Little Tupper Lake, plus more lesser-known waterways like the Little River. Many of us paddlers enjoy stretching out our legs and hiking for a change of pace – making this volume indispensable in my mind.

A Kayaker’s Guide to Lake George, the Saratoga Region and Great Sacandaga Lake by Russell Dunn – The author’s love for scenic beauty and history comes through loud and clear in his detailed books. With this guide, Russell Dunn has filled a gaping hole in the paddling literature for New York State – Lake George and Great Sacandaga Lake are well-known, but less so from a paddling perspective. Also included is the Hudson River from Thurman Station to Fort Edward, as well as some smaller, more intimate water bodies like the Kayaderosseras Creek and Round Lake.

Adirondack Mountain Club Canoe and Kayak Guide East-Central New York State edited by Kathie Armstrong and Chet Harvey – While this guidebook includes flatwater trips on streams and rivers, it also has a fair amount of whitewater in it making it a must-have for the river-running paddler. Much of the Hudson River from Newcomb to Troy is described here, as well as the easy whitewater of popular streams like the Batten Kill. Other notable streams in this well-organized guide are Schoharie Creek, Kayaderosseras Creek, Sacandaga River and Hoosic River – I do wish the Massachusetts to Pownal, Vermont section of the Hoosic was included though. Most of the trips are within 100 miles of the Capital Region and some are in neighboring states.

A Kayaker’s Guide to New York’s Capital Region by Russell Dunn – This book covers in detail, the Mohawk River from Amsterdam to Waterford, and the Hudson River from Mechanicville to Catskill. You can be sure that Russell Dunn will offer historical background and interesting tidbits in his books and this one is no different.

Penultimate Paddles: In the Piseco, Indian, and Canada Lakes Region: Southeast Adirondacks by Russell Dunn.

Hudson River Water Trail Guide by Ian Giddy – Revised by the Hudson River Watertrail Association. The seventh edition is now available and is by far the best guide to the tidal Hudson River from Troy to New York City. Boat launching areas, campsites, historical sites, and natural areas of interest are covered. Black and white charts for every section help in navigating New York’s most famous river.

A Kayaker’s Guide to the Hudson River Valley by Sheri Aber – This guide covers the smaller and quieter waters of the valley on either side of the Hudson River from Kinderhook south to Beacon.

A Kayaker’s Guide to Lake Champlain by Catherine Frank and Margaret Holden – The definitive paddling guide to our “Great Lake,” covering the Vermont side as well the New York side.

Kayak and Canoe Paddles in the New York Champlain Valley by Jack Downs – This guide contains 15 mostly easier to moderate paddling trips in the northeastern part of the state including the west shore of Lake Champlain.

Take a Paddle Finger Lakes by Rich and Sue Freeman – This book contains a wide assortment of 64 paddles in the west-central part of the state – just don’t expect much on the bigger Finger Lakes though.

Take a Paddle Western New York by Rich & Sue Freeman – The guide has 45 trips in western New York with good maps and directions.

Day Paddling Long Island Sound by Eben Oldmixon – This book contains eight trips on Long Island’s north shore – the rest of the trips in here are mostly in Connecticut.

Slipstream Watercraft Sweet Sixteen Fabulous Flatwater Paddles by Russell Dunn.

NYS Canalway Water Trail Guidebook and Map Set - free online guide.

So grab your paddle and life vest, throw your canoe or kayak up on the car and get paddling – there is no shortage of places to paddle in New York!

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