Exploring the Adirondacks, New York

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 13181A, Base Camp


  • Kayak, raft, and swim in a variety of waters, from lakes to rapids
  • Enjoy lively hikes
  • Learn the fascinating history of the state park 


  • All meals and campsites
  • All river shuttles and river gear
  • Museum admissions


DatesJul 14–19, 2013
StaffKarin Tate

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Trip Overview

The Trip

At six million acres, Adirondack Park is the largest state park in the lower 48. The area contains a unique mixture of private lands, wilderness, human settlements, and numerous 4,000+ foot peaks, along with outstanding whitewater, quiet lakes, and the headwaters of the mighty Hudson. Spend a week exploring and sampling some of the best and wildest parts of the Adirondacks with some great new friends. Enjoy challenging whitewater, crystal clear lakes, a historic Adirondack "camp," a hike on a famous trail, and nights of peaceful tenting.


Day 1: On the afternoon of the first day, we'll settle in, unpack, unwind from our travels, and enjoy our first camp dinner.

Day 2: Today, we'll offer up a six-mile hike to a pond on the Northville-Placid Trail, a long-distance trail through some of the wildest parts of the Adirondacks.

Day 3: We'll take a look at the quiet side of New York's wilderness with a full-day kayak eco-tour on one of the beautiful lakes in the area. A touring kayak, all necessary equipment, and an experienced guide will be provided. Our guide/naturalist will provide running commentary on the historic "camps" along the way, as well as observations on the local varieties of birds, plant life, and wildlife such as beaver, otter, and the local version of Sasquatch.

Day 4: We'll walk five level miles on an easy trail to Historic Great Camp Santanoni, where we'll learn about the history of the camp, visit the main lodge, enjoy a picnic lunch, and take a refreshing dip into the clear waters of Newcomb Lake.

Day 5: We'll be in the center of the park, where we will raft a 17-mile stretch of the Indian and Hudson rivers. Our schedule is designed to use a water release from Indian Lake that gives us a solid Class III journey. We'll travel through an area so remote that an abandoned rail bridge is the only sign of habitation visible. We'll crash through the multiple rapids in The Narrows, while our in-raft guides provide commentary on the history, geology, and wildlife of the area. Lunch on the banks and some pauses for a swim will round out the day.

Day 6: After a final breakfast, we will visit the Adirondack Museum, a wonderful site on Blue Mountain Lake that features a fascinating collection of boats, as well as many displays of Adirondack history.



Getting There

The nearest airports are in Syracuse and Albany, both about two and a half hours away by car. The three New York City area airports are about six hours away, and the Boston airport is about four and a half hours away.

Accommodations and Food

We will meet at a quiet campground in the remote Central Adirondacks. The setting of this facility, north of the Village of Indian Lake, offers relaxing and quiet beauty, and breathtaking views of Blue Mountain. The campground has tent and trailer sites, a picnic area with tables and fireplaces, flush toilets, hot showers, recycling center, handicapped accessibility, and a sand beach. We will be tenting for the duration of the trip.

Our first group meal will be dinner on the first day, and the last will be breakfast on the last day. Participants will share commissary duties on a rotating basis in teams of three, with help from the trip leaders. Special diets or requests should be stated well in advance, and will be accommodated within reason. All meals will be vegetarian-friendly. It should be understood that the week involves group meals, and the commissary equipment, refrigeration, and variety of meals are somewhat limited.

The trip price includes all shuttles between our campsite and the rivers and lakes, river and boating equipment, all camping fees and permits, and museum entrance fees. Carpooling will be used for our day at the Great Camp.

Trip Difficulty

This is a physically active trip. River rafting involves alternating between bursts of activity and periods of relaxation. All day trips require a good degree of aerobic fitness. No rafting experience is necessary, as there are in-raft guides on the Hudson River, and kayak guides on the lake. Participants should know how to swim.

People with special health conditions that might become acute from exercise or the excitement of rafting should make these conditions known at the time of their application for the trip. It should be understood that rafting involves inherent dangers and risks of injury, and that rescue or more advanced medical care may be several hours away due to the remoteness of the area. Participants will be required to sign the outfitter's standard waiver before participating.

River guides are trained and are licensed by the state of New York for each particular river they work on. All guides know first aid and CPR, and many have advanced wilderness rescue and advanced first aid training. Some may have EMT or wilderness EMT training as well. The trip leader has wilderness first aid and CPR training.

The hikes will be moderate to moderately strenuous, with no elevation gain on some days and moderate elevation gain on others. The longest hike will be 10 miles to and from Great Camp Santanoni, but it is a flat walk. 

Equipment and Clothing

Participants will be expected to have standard equipment for a week of camping. Boating equipment will be furnished by the outfitter. Participants may bring their personal paddle for comfort, and your own PFD will be permitted if it meets the outfitter's standards.

For comfort and safety, participants are strongly advised not to wear any cotton garments either on the rivers or on the hikes. Wet cotton becomes cold, does not wick moisture, and can cause hypothermia. Polypropylene or other synthetic fabrics are preferred. In addition, nighttime temperatures can fall as low as the mid 30s, and participants are advised to have at least one warm change of clothes available, or several layers of clothing for cold evenings and mornings. A detailed list of required and suggested clothing and equipment will be provided to confirmed participants. 



  • Maps of the Adirondack Park and adjacent areas that we'll visit can be found on the following New York State USGS quadrangles: Hudson River: Bad Luck Mountain & Dutton Mountain, Blue Mountain Lake: Sargent Ponds & Blue Mountain
  • See also DeLorme Mapping Co., NY State Atlas and Gazetteer, which contain topographic maps of the entire state.


  • The Adirondack Mountain Club can provide a useful list of books and materials of the area. They can be reached through their website at www.adk.org or by telephone at 800-395-8080 or 518-668-4447. There is a selection of gear, maps, and guidebooks available through the Adirondack Mountain Club online store or by mail order.
  • Adirondack Park Interpretative Centers, Newcomb NY (518-582-2000) and Paul Smiths, NY (518-327-3000). Centers are operated by the Adirondack Park Agency. The Interpretative Centers' website is www.northnet.org/adirondackvic.
  • The Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake NY (518-352-7311), www.adkmuseum.org. A private non-profit educational institution. 


The staff of Camp Santanoni will give an excellent presentation about the history and ecology of the area and the camp, and current preservation and environmental issues of the Adirondacks. The leader is versed in the ecological issues of the Adirondacks and will address them throughout the trip. The guide for our day of kayaking will interpret the history, flora, and fauna of the area.



Karin is a long-time hiker and backpacker. She has hiked in the Canadian Rockies, the White Mountains, the Appalachians and, extensively, in the Adirondacks where she has bagged 42 out of the 46 highest peaks. Karin is a leader for the Appalachian Mountain Club and is passionate about the outdoors. In addition to hiking, she has rafted in Alaska, canoed and kayaked in the Adirondacks, and currently rows on the Charles River.

Assistant Leader:

Bill Curzie has assisted in several Sierra Club Service trips including a 10-day backpacking trip working in a cleanup project in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Brooks Range). He is a retired (sort of) educator, and he is founder and president of the the Rutgers Environmental Stewards Alumni Association. If things get dull at camp, he may suddenly burst into a convincing imitation of Jackie Mason!

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