Sunday, March 13, 2011

Payne Lake, part one

Hello and happy almost spring!  Here in northern NY, we still have more than 2 feet of snow on the ground, but the ice on the rivers is breaking up, the melted snow rings around the tree trunks are getting larger, and the chickadees are singing their warm weather song on mild mornings... so, I think we might actually get some temperatures above the 30's eventually!

In the meantime, I'll write about another flat water paddling location we visited.  Payne Lake is in the northwest area of New York, not far from the St. Lawrence River, and near the town of Oxbow, NY.  The lake has a couple of great features including a sandy, gradual put-in, marshy areas on both ends, cliffs on one side and rocks with a tiny cave on the other.

NOTE:  There is at least one other lake named "Payne Lake" in NY state.  It is in Lewis County, 10 miles east of Lowville.  This blog concerns the lake in Jefferson County.

This lake has a DEC maintained boat launch area with a parking lot and a place for fisherman to cast from the shore.  Unfortunately, no outhouse.   Here is the put-in:

Here is a view of some of the cliffs from the put-in:

We paddled here in the summer with friends of ours, Karen and Gary, and had a great day!  We began our trip by paddling left-- south-- from the put-in and paddled in a clockwise direction around the lake.  Gary is on the left, Karen on the right in the photo below:

Our first wildlife encounter was with a Great blue heron in the marshy area on the southern end of the lake.  He's in the middle of this photo, flying away.  He was intent on fishing and wasn't very bothered by us as we paddled by, but as I floated to take his photo, he got nervous and took off.

This end of the lake is fairly shallow with lots of plant life, particularly water lily pads.  Actually, the depth of water in this lake only goes up to 15 feet, so it's pretty shallow compared to many lakes in the Adirondacks.  (This lake is NOT in the Adirondacks, where we do most of our paddling.)  In the photo below, everyone's ahead of me as we near the bottom/southern tip of the lake.  My husband is in the red kayak.

Even though I tipped the camera on this one, I really love the colors, so I'm including it:

Here is one of the beautiful and sweet smelling water lilies we paddled by in the southern area of the lake:

As we turned and began paddling north along the west side of the lake, the cliffs loomed large and imposing-- drawing our eyes up as we kayaked along:

I am looking for a photo that gives you a better idea of the height of these cliffs, but I haven't come across one that really illustrates it the way I'd like.  I may find one later....  But anyway, they are high.   Ahh... here we go.  This photo will give you a bit of an idea:

From the perspective of the water, the cliffs seemed at times to be leaning over us as we paddled beside them.

During this part of the trip, we spotted a loon out in the middle of the lake.  Even with my lens zoomed, my photos were too far away, but we always enjoy seeing the common loon on our paddles.  They're beautiful, both in looks and in voice, and their diving skills are amazing!

One of my favorite shots of the day is of the cliffs and the sky:

And here are two others that I like as well:

We were nearing the end of the cliff area when I took this photo.  It's a bit dark, but I like the composition, and I love the sky.

Here is another photo of Karen and Gary enjoying the beauty of Payne Lake.  I am forever taking photos of everyone's backs... one of these days I'm going to have to lead the way so that I can turn around and snap some pictures of people's faces!

This is my husband in a little opening in the cliffs.  This is not the tiny cave I mentioned earlier.  It is on the east side of the lake and we'll get to it later.

We have almost reach the northwestern corner of the lake, as shown in this photo featuring Gary and my husband, Dick.

And here is Karen (yes, from the back, again) with her floppy hat that matches her kayak.  Isn't she pretty in blue?

The weather was absolutely perfect the day we paddled Payne Lake.  It was warm and sunny and there was not much of a breeze.  We did not have bugs to contend with, and for some reason, there were hardly any boats on the lake.  Motor boats are allowed up to 10 hp, but we didn't encounter any during our time on the water.  I imagine this lake can get busy at times, but it was quite serene while we were there soaking up the peace and beauty around us.

I'll be back soon with part two of Payne Lake.  And maybe by then, those of us in northern NY will be able to start thinking about readying our kayaks and canoes for another wonderful season!

I'll leave you with one more photo of Payne Lake to tide you over until part two:

Please feel free to use the comment buttons to express your opinion if you don't feel like leaving a comment.


  1. Absolutely beautiful lake. And great pictures...even the tilted and dark ones. Was it very cold? New York in march sounds cold to me.

  2. Again, way "too quiet" with kayaking in New York State! No posts in 3 months??!!

    1. Mike,
      I'm back to blogging.

      See my post, dated May 30,2012 for an explanation of the "way too quiet of quiet kayaking in NY state."

      I plan to write about Francis Lake this week. Hope to hear from you soon!

  3. Thanks for your comment and compliments! I am sorry my post gave you the impression we were kayaking Payne Lake as I wrote in March. We did not/do not/usually cannot kayak in New York in March. It is much too cold and we often still have ice on the lakes. The paddle on Payne Lake was done in the 2010 paddling season, I think in June. The temperatures are much better for kayaking then! If we're lucky, we can paddle in early May, but I don't like to be cold, so we wait for the weather to warm up. Also, it is pretty bleak around here until the leaves start coming out on the trees. Thanks again for you comments!