April 2019 - CANOEING, KAYAKING & SUP
banner photo // The Kayaderosseras Creek. Rich Macha
Spring Paddling Guide - Kayaderosseras Creek, Saratoga Lake and Fish Creek
By Rich Macha
I enjoy getting away from civilization and always look forward to visiting the wild areas of the Adirondacks. However, in most years, Adirondack waterways do not become ice-free until at least the middle of April, and many ponds and lakes may not open up until the end of the month. There are several good options in the lowlands outside of the park though – the Kayaderosseras Creek in Saratoga County is one of them.
You can paddle the Kayaderosseras (most folks pronounce it Kay-duh-ross) as a one-way downstream trip or do an up-and-back trip from one launch spot. Spring water levels are usually good and there is some current. It may be a bit more work paddling upstream but you can be assured that the return downstream will be easier.
Before you paddle the “K,” check out the website of the Friends of the Kayaderosseras (kayadeross.org) for any updates and information on their spring clean-up days on Sunday, April 28 and Saturday, May 4.
From Rock City Falls to Ballston Spa, the creek is mostly whitewater of up to Class 3 – it is not paddled often due to its many strainers (downed trees). From Kelly Park in Ballston Spa to Saratoga Lake, the creek is mostly flatwater for over 10 miles with a couple of sections of quickwater. In the first two miles from Kelly Park there may be some blockages that may require getting out of the boat, hence paddlers may find it easier to start from Gray’s Crossing a bit further downstream. To get there from NY Route 50, drive east on Northline Road for 0.7-mile and look for a sign on the right. Parking is in a field that also serves the Burl Trail for hikers – this is a section of Saratoga Spa State Park. Mileages stated below are from Kelly Park.
At 4.5 miles, Geyser Brook comes in from the north – in spring high water and with the willingness to lift over beaver dams, it may be possible to paddle up it to within view of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center – I have only gone a very short distance along it myself.
Before reaching the Driscoll Road put-in (near NY Route 9) at the six-mile-mark, you may experience a drop through the remains of an old dam, and then a stretch of quickwater. It is a bit of a carry from the parking area to the water here but a streamside picnic table makes it a good place for lunch or a rest break.
Soon after Driscoll Road, you pass under Route 9, then after going another 1.2 miles, you go under I-87, the Adirondack Northway. As you continue downstream, it is nice to leave the traffic noise behind. Two more miles of pleasant winding stream leads to the narrow outlet of Lake Lonely – it is possible and highly recommended to paddle the 0.9-mile to the lake.
From the mouth of Lake Lonely outlet, it is another mile to Saratoga Lake. Logs and debris often jam in this section and you may have to squeeze past some downed or overhanging trees, or at worst, get out and portage around. Turtles like to sun themselves on the logs; inevitably, they will plop into the water before you get too close. Look for the orange of orioles flitting about, as well as the ubiquitous kingfishers, wood ducks, and great blue herons.
The shores of Saratoga Lake are fairly developed, and in summer can be buzzing with motorized watercraft, however things are quieter in spring – especially on weekdays. A tour of the lake’s circumference is about 12 miles. About 2,000 feet of the lake’s northwest shoreline, the Manning Cove Preserve, is undeveloped – in summer, the shallow sandy-bottomed area is attractive to motorboaters who moor here, and swim from their boats.
The best launch spot for paddlers on Saratoga Lake is Waterfront Park on Crescent Avenue – this is on the north end of the lake and about one-mile north from the mouth of the Kayaderosseras. At the south end of the lake, but well away from the Kayaderosseras, another good launch spot is at Brown’s Beach.
Fish Creek is the outlet of Saratoga Lake and, in essence, is the continuation of the Kayaderosseras as it makes its way down to the Hudson River. It does see some motorized traffic but it also does have some interesting shoreline and tributary creeks to explore. From the state boat launch (near NY Route 9P bridge), it is 4.5 miles down to Bryant Bridge, which makes for a good turn-around point since there is a dam not far downstream.
A quieter section of Fish Creek can be accessed from Mennen Road in Victory Mills, where you can paddle upstream for 3.8 miles to the dam in Grangerville. There are signs of civilization at the bridges but much of the route passes by low, undeveloped shores of willows and silver maples. In spring, the current is noticeable, but as mentioned earlier, it will be an easy return back to your car.
The water is still very cold in April and May, so remember to wear your life jacket. New York State law requires that you actually wear one from November 1 through May 1. Also, avoid cotton clothing and paddle close to shore – you may even want to consider wearing a wetsuit or drysuit. Paddle safely and have an enjoyable paddling season!
A lover of wild places, Rich Macha has led many trips for the Adirondack Mountain Club and has spent 20 years in the paddlesport/snowsport business. More of Rich’s adventures can be found at northeastwild.blogspot.com.