Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kunjamuk River and Elm Lake, (by way of the Sacandaga River,) part one

This past weekend was gorgeous in northern New York.  It may have been a bit cool and breezy in some spots, but near Speculator, in the sunshine, it was a fantastic day for paddling.  To get to the Kunjamuk River, you put in at the outlet of Lake Pleasant, which is the Sacandaga River.  Paddle downstream for a couple of miles and you'll reach the marsh area where the Kunjamuk flows from the north into the Sacandaga.  The round trip, from the put in upstream on the Kunjamuk to Elm Lake and back is about 13 miles.  It took us about 6 1/2 hours, including time for a lunch break as well as a walk to historic Kunjamuk Cave. 

The put in is beside a municipal parking area on the north side of Route 30, just east of the junction of Route 8 and Route 30.  There is a public bathroom and a park here, so it's a great place to park for this trip. The launching area was gradual sand and rock.  An easy entry, which we always appreciate.  Here is a photo:

Scenery on the Sacandaga was beautiful right away, even though there was motorboat noise from Lake Pleasant and traffic noise from Route 30. 

The Sacadaga had a noticeable current as we headed downstream.  It was not swift, but we were moved along without much paddling on the first section of the river where it was not very wide.  Once the river widened out the current wasn't as noticeable.  This part of the Sacandaga, once broadened, seemed the perfect place for ducks.  We saw many black ducks, resting, eating, preening.

I had a tough time putting the camera down because around each bend, there was another nice view to frame, such as this one:

Or this one with more mountains in the background:

And many more ducks, hanging out, swimming away into the reeds, or taking a look at the two of us as we paddled by at a slower pace than these web footed fowl:

It was about 10 a.m. when we got on the water-- a bit late for us, but it took us a while to drive there.  The temperature was perfect and I was able to peel off the windbreaker and sweatpants I wore on the ride up.  (yes, it was in the upper 40's when we got up that morning!)  Here is Dick with a hill behind him:

As we entered the marsh area where the Kunjamuk joins the Sacandaga we saw a Great Blue Heron.  I took his photo, but it isn't a great shot, so you'll just have to imagine him standing in a shallow area surrounded by reeds, his eyes on his dinner.

It didn't take too long to reach the entrance to Kunjamuk River.  If you decide to check out this particular paddle destination, you may be fortunate enough to find an orange ribbon tied to some water plants, indicating that you are headed in the right direction.  It wasn't difficult to find the Kunjamuk though.  We knew it would enter from our left, and we looked for current in the channels we saw in the marshy area, and when we found it, we were sure before we saw the orange ribbon marker.  Here is the view as we began our paddle upstream on the Kunjamuk:

This description and the photos don't cover half of the trip one way, but I will have more info and lots more photos for you the next time.  We'll be away over the holiday weekend, but I expect to finish the Kunjamuk trip when I blog next week.  Until then, I hope you're all happily paddling away!  (Let's hope Earl clears out and away quickly.)


  1. Your story and photos of your trip take me 25 to 30 years ago went I went with friends. I made many trips back to the area by boat up the kunjamuck many times. Even went above area to Rock and long pond fishing and hunting.

  2. So glad that I brought back good memories for you! We really enjoyed the Kunjamuck!