Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nicks Lake, part one

Sunday's weather didn't look good, so we knew Saturday would be our only chance for a paddle last weekend.  We didn't have a lot of time and even less energy since we'd been playing cards with friends the night before.  The temperature was in the low 40's when we got up, but it was clear and looked like the day would be sunny but cool.  So off we went to Nicks Lake.  This lake is very near Old Forge, NY and is the site of a NY state DEC campground.  There were numerous campers, even on the 2nd weekend of September.  Note: This lake is not the place to go for a quiet paddle.  The campground is very popular.  It's a very nice campground, too, as you will see by some of my photos.  But, since it's near Old Forge and there is a campground on the lake, this paddle destination is for those times when you just want to get out on the water for an hour or two.  One of the best things about Nicks Lake is that there are no motor boats allowed.  Also there are the obvious advantages of a public area-- picnic tables and restrooms.  Here is the link for more info on Nicks Lake:  http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/24485.html
Here is a photo of the swimming beach.  You may launch from here but the carry from the parking lot makes us prefer to leave from the boat launch which is on the right before getting to this picnic/beach/parking area.

No swimmers on this day, since the temperature only reached 70 by the afternoon.  Here is a photo of the boat launch area:

This landing is used for fishing.  On both sides there is sand for an easy entry.  The only drawback is that sometimes it's shallow enough here that you have to walk your kayak out a bit, or scoot along to reach deeper water.  On this day, we scooted and reached enough water to float less than 4 feet from the shore.  Also, take note that you cannot park at the boat launch site.  You must unload your canoe or kayak, then park in the lot further down the road (where the picnic tables and beach are.) This is the view as we're heading out from the launch area:

We went left, toward a bridge which is part of the nature trail circling the lake.  On the way, we passed the beach area.  There is a lifeguard on duty during the summer months, a bathhouse for changing, and restrooms.  Also, there are picnic tables in the shade-- great for a hot summer day.  But today, those picnicking gravitated toward the few open areas with picnic tables, sitting in the sun to enjoy their lunches.

Here is a photo of the bridge:

This bridge crosses the inlet to the lake.  We have been to Nicks Lake many times but have not been able to paddle underneath the bridge and explore that area in the past.  Sometimes the water level is too low, other times, the water plants have made it impenetrable.  On this paddle, we got lucky!  We were able to poke around in this area for about 20 minutes, enjoying the lack of wind, the calm water and all of the reflections.  Here are some photos of that area:

Dick found the inlet's channel.  It's on the left side (east) of this protected area of Nicks Lake.

So we had to explore.  Even though we could see that we wouldn't get far...

We enjoy narrow waterways where we can maneuver around, check out the banks which are almost reachable on either side of us, and maybe see something new or interesting.  This was a swampy area, so we wouldn't be getting out, but it's fun to paddle through marshes and swamps.

Within a few minutes of entering the channel, official signs tacked on trees notified us that we were at the DEC's boundary.  We knew this probably meant we'd be entering private land, but there were no posted signs, so we went a bit further to see what was around the next bend....

Nope.  No "Posted" signs, but downed trees across the channel.... more effective than signs, right?   So, we turned around-- which was not an easy task in this narrow waterway-- and headed back toward the main part of the lake.  Here is a shot of the sun through a pine tree which I could not resist taking:

This is the view we had as we approached the bridge and the main part of the lake:

Surprisingly, we did not see any ducks in this wind-protected area.  Out on the main lake, we did see 3 or 4 black ducks.  They stuck to the shadows along the shore, being very camera shy.  We did not see any great blue heron or other wading birds on this paddle, but afternoon paddles in northern NY do not usually produce a great deal of wildlife sightings.  Also, afternoon is, in my opinion, the worst time for taking photos.  My camera doesn't take great photos in bright sunlight, so I'm always pleased to get a few that aren't bad during a midday paddle.

Since we've been to Nicks Lake a number of times, I have lots of photos.  All of the above were taken on our paddle of September 11th.  But here are a couple from previous trips.

A few years ago, Dick was making friends with some black ducks:

And here is the last one I'll leave you with for now.  I'll be back with more details on the remainder of our Nicks Lake paddle soon.  Happy kayaking!  PS-- please use the "reactions" area to let me know what you think of this blog post.  It's a new feature I just added to my blog.  Thank you in advance for your feedback!


  1. great pics... i've never been to this little lake and will have to put it on the bucket list.

    have you ever paddled "gifford lake" near camden? always wondered if there was public access to that pretty little lake?

    1. Hi and thanks for the compliments on my photos. Yes, I've paddled Gifford Lake. It's extremely small, if you've seen it from the road, you know that already. Public access is from a DEC parking lot/fishing access on Fish Creek south and east of the lake.
      Here is a link to my posts on Fish Creek: http://www.quietkayaking.blogspot.com/2010/04/west-branch-of-fish-creek-gifford-lake.html

      Take Route 13 out of Camden (north/ west) and turn onto Cemetery Road. The fishing/boating access is on your right before the bridge. You can check a Google map of Camden to see where the outlet of Gifford Lake connects with Fish Creek.