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paddling doesn't have to be an oar-deal

Getting out on an Adirondack lake with your canoe, kayak, or SUP is a summer highlight. With more than 3,000 lakes and ponds, and 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, there is definitely no shortage of places to explore. With so many options to choose from, we wanted to provide you with important information in one spot so you can spend less time searching the web and more time paddling.

safety first

Even though paddling is a warmer month activity, the biggest safety concern is water temperature. In spring, even when the air temperature is warm, waters can remain cool, due to snowmelt and other factors. Capsizing in these cold waters can present hazardous, sometimes fatal, conditions and hypothermia becomes a serious risk. When paddling early or late in the season, a dry suit is a great option. For paddlers over the age of 12, a left vest or PFD has to be in the vessel at all times, but must be worn from November 1 to May 1. Children under the age of 12 must always wear a PFD when paddling. ​

Essentials:

Clean, drain, dry

As you may be aware, non-native aquatic invasive species pose a risk to Adirondack waterways, especially if recreation vessels are transported from lake to lake. In order to prevent spread, paddlers and boaters should practice “clean, drain, dry.” This means that all canoes, kayak, motorboats, and SUPs should be free of any debris or mud; drained of any standing water; and dried. Paddlers can wash / decontaminate vessels at home, but there is also knowledgeable staff stationed throughout the Adirondacks, and beyond, trained to inspect watercraft and perform decontaminations or washes. Examples of non-native aquatic invasive species are: Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, hydrilla, and spiny waterflea. While these species pose no direct harmful threats to humans, they do pose significant ecological threats. Decontamination sounds scary, but even if your boat seems clean, it’s a preventative measure that helps ensure Adirondack waterways stay pristine for years to come.


To find a decontamination station near you, visit the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute website.

ways to practice leave no trace ethics on the water

  • Plan ahead and prepare by checking weather reports and wind conditions

  • Wash / decontaminate watercraft to prevent the spread of non-native aquatic invasive species

  • Respect aquatic wildlife by keeping your distance

  • Be considerate of other paddlers and boaters:

    • Keep close to shorelines and out of channels to allow safe passage of motorboats

    • Groups should paddle behind one another to prevent blocking passage of motorboats and other paddlers

    • Avoid blocking carries and put-in or take-out sites by loading or unloading your gear out of the way of the launch

    • When paddling into a take-out site, keep watch ahead so you don’t run into others who are also using that site

    • Speak quietly, sound carries across water