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Old 08-14-2009, 10:47 PM   #1
apple crisp
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Lows Lake camping stress

I’ve been reviewing this incredibly helpful forum avidly in preparation for our first trip to the Adirondacks and this is my first post. The kind folks at Raquette River Outfitters suggested Bog River/Lows Lake for our first family canoe camping trip (Sun-Tues) but the many references in the forum to crowded parking lots and campsites have me worried that we’re going to be in a boat parade/party zone (like the Saco) rather than enjoying a peaceful paddle. My other worry is finding a campsite – I have an image of us paddling wearily from campsite to campsite and finding them all full or just taking the first empty one we find even if we aren’t ready to be done for the day. I have always camped in places where we had a specific site reserved ahead of time and not knowing what it will be like is giving me some stress. Raquette River doesn’t open until 9 so we won’t be able to get an early start. Your thoughts please?
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:14 PM   #2
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1st things 1st----Welcome to the forum.
Low's has over 40 designated sites and you're arriving on a Sunday. I'm certain you will find a site without too much trouble. If you don't find a site to your liking the 1st day, just don't dig in too hard and move the next day...you'll have nearly all day Monday to find a better site, if you need to.
Do you have any specific sights you want to take in? There's that strange Myst like remnants of years gone by near Hitchin's site 8, on that little water body to the southwest.
Do you plan to hike Grass Pond Mountain?
How about checking out Bog and Clear ponds?
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:36 PM   #3
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Thank you! Grass Pond and Bog and Clear ponds sound like great options if we are capable of paddling that far and I particularly like the idea of a hike. We were planning to camp in a different place each night but I suppose if we really like what we find we could stay in one place both nights. Is it safe to leave our stuff unattended while we explore by boat or hike? (I'm thinking of human marauders more than animal). I do not have a map that shows the campsites - I am assume Raquette River Outfitters will provide us with that - so I can't picture where site 8 is.
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Old 08-15-2009, 01:03 AM   #4
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I just came back from my first paddle on Lows Lake after spending 1st week of Aug at several sites.
We started Monday morning and found a site available right off. Stayed at 12 for 3 days and then on to 13. We did day paddles every day and always left our stuff unattended. Never had a problem with any kind of marauders, human or otherwise. I don't think many folks are going in with the intention of raiding and pillaging. We had some awesome weather and were able to make it all the way up to 32 on Grassy Pond. Hey, just go for it. If you get going anytime in the early part of the day, you shouldn't have any worries. I grew up in NYC and am suspicious of everything but not in the Dacks. People are just looking for the same thing you are, fun and adventure. Half the fun is finding that special site that works for you and your family (try 12, that's a nice site).
Again, just go for it and have some fun.
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Old 08-15-2009, 08:55 AM   #5
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Take a look here:

http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_for...df/lowsmap.pdf

This is the map from the most recently epublished UMP for Bog River Flow
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Old 08-15-2009, 11:11 AM   #6
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my observations

Just returned from a multi-day trip. Here are my observations:

The further you paddle out on Lowes Lake, the more chances there are for available sites plus a true wilderness experience with solitude and few people seen during the day.

Hitchins Pond itself along the way, is way overcrowded with more of the undesirable people to camp next to - they bring in way too much in overloaded canoes, but fortunately prevents them from going much further. Don't camp there.

The parking lot and access road is ridiculous and frustrating on a crowded day given the place's popularity. Don't let it ruin your trip. Even if you see 50 cars pulled all over the place, some are day paddlers, some have gone to the scout camp to visit, and some have gone all the way thru to the Oswegatchie. It does not mean they are all campers. It was a madhouse when I was there with people actually lined up to put boats in the water. But once beyond Hitchins Pond, it was a superb wilderness trip.

You will see really stupid examples of loading up boats with lawn furniture, metal crates, Coleman coolers big enough for 10 cases of beer, and even stacked firewood leaving them no place to sit. But these people can not go that far. Pack efficiently and you will zoom right by them. Some make it as far as campsites along the river but few would ever go to Grassy Pond.

Enjoy!
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Old 08-15-2009, 10:57 PM   #7
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Apple Crisp, You posted a very similar request about hiking as well. What's up - are you doing both? Back-to-back as a Thur to Tuesday trip? When exactly are you doing these 2 trips, because the time of year makes a big difference?
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Old 08-16-2009, 10:07 AM   #8
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We'll be there soon. We have two back to back trips planned - first canoeing then a day to recover and repack and then the backpacking. We did the same thing in Glacier last summer (two 3-day backpacking trips with a day in between) and it worked out really well. If the weather looks like it will be miserable we'll cut back.
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Old 08-16-2009, 10:33 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by adkayaker View Post
Just returned from a multi-day trip. Here are my observations:

The further you paddle out on Lowes Lake, the more chances there are for available sites plus a true wilderness experience with solitude and few people seen during the day.

Hitchins Pond itself along the way, is way overcrowded with more of the undesirable people to camp next to - they bring in way too much in overloaded canoes, but fortunately prevents them from going much further. Don't camp there.

The parking lot and access road is ridiculous and frustrating on a crowded day given the place's popularity. Don't let it ruin your trip. Even if you see 50 cars pulled all over the place, some are day paddlers, some have gone to the scout camp to visit, and some have gone all the way thru to the Oswegatchie. It does not mean they are all campers. It was a madhouse when I was there with people actually lined up to put boats in the water. But once beyond Hitchins Pond, it was a superb wilderness trip.

You will see really stupid examples of loading up boats with lawn furniture, metal crates, Coleman coolers big enough for 10 cases of beer, and even stacked firewood leaving them no place to sit. But these people can not go that far. Pack efficiently and you will zoom right by them. Some make it as far as campsites along the river but few would ever go to Grassy Pond.

Enjoy!
I agree with you, Jeff....I was on a trip there in mid-July. The parking area was nuts, the put in was also. When we got to the carry at Hitchins it was like Barnum & Bailey time ....there was a boy scout troop headed out to Lows & a girl scout troup headed the other way...We couldn't get out of the dam area fast enough. Once we got past the big scout camp in the interior we didn't see anyone the rest of the day..Spent 3 days camped @ Grass Pond the only people we ran into were a couple of guys canoe fishing.

We also left our camp unattended lots of times to go out exploring the rest of the lake and the Bog Lake area....heard some people up on the mountain one time but we never seen them...so the moral here I guess is the farther out you go ...the more apt you are to find what you're looking for. Especially if you hit it during the work week.
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Old 08-16-2009, 10:46 AM   #10
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I've paddled on Low's now twice - both times as a means to access the Oswegatchie. It's not a big effort to reach the lake with just a few hours of paddling, so I guess that's what makes it so popular. I don't know why anyone would camp within an hour of launching unless it is just to drink beer, so that's a great reason to camp farther out, eh? We launched around 1PM and camped just before Grassy Pond. if we had started early, we could have camped on the Oswegatchie the first night!
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:16 AM   #11
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I understand the stress that may arise when worrying about a site at Lows Lake, and I agree that you will probably get a site on a Sunday night. I have some different thoughts on the whole situation. Please don’t slam me to hard.

The problem is that the lake is very beautiful, has easy access, and is free, because of this it is starting to get overused during the peak times of the year, July and August. If the Powers-That-Be were to improve the parking lot it would only make the situation worse, I think any solution that make the lake more popular or easier to access is a bad one.

I can’t see a reservation system working at an area with free camping; folks could reserve a site for every weekend during the summer and then just pick the one with the best weather. I would hate to see a reservation with fee system go into effect, I don’t like fees and I like the option of heading out at the last minute. (I would not choose Low’s as a last minute trip on a nice weekend in the summer.)

My thought would be to put in a nice parking lot about half a mile up the road and make people carry to the put in. This would limit the number of folks using the lake. I realize that people are going to get really pissed off about this but it’s obviously not working out currently and there needs to be some change.

Another thought would be to eliminate all the sites below upper dam, Hitchins pond would still be a great day use area. A few more sites could be created farther up at the West end of the lake for those willing to work for their “wilderness experience”.

I realize that my thoughts are a bit harsh and maybe to far “out of the box” but if Low’s is going to be preserved as a wilderness than perhaps something a bit ruthless needs to be done.

Last edited by cgill; 08-17-2009 at 01:24 PM..
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Old 08-17-2009, 06:26 PM   #12
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cgill, I agree that if the area is being stressed by summer weekend paddlers, some changes are in order. Personally, I think Lows Lake is far from feeling like a wilderness, and I've just paddled it as part of the traverse to the "Os" and Inlet. Removing all campsites between the lower and upper dams would go a long way to solve any problems there, but some enforcement would be needed, at least in the first couple seasons. A reservation system such as that used for the free sites at Stillwater does work, and I've been satisfied with the free camping there, although it's been a few years since I was at the Res. Overall, I still prefer Middle Saranac or the Fish Creek Ponds primitive sites to Lows. After my 1-nighter there in June, I don't see any reason to ban floatplanes, but that's been discussed, and I have elaborated on that in my Lows-Os TR.
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Old 08-18-2009, 08:39 AM   #13
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I've "heard" that the possible UMP might call for a parking lot way down the road toward Horsehoe but where the current lot is, a turn-around for loading and unloading only. Wetlands along the road are the issue.
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Old 08-18-2009, 08:44 AM   #14
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I understand the stress that may arise when worrying about a site at Lows Lake, and I agree that you will probably get a site on a Sunday night. I have some different thoughts on the whole situation. Please don’t slam me to hard.

The problem is that the lake is very beautiful, has easy access, and is free, because of this it is starting to get overused during the peak times of the year, July and August. If the Powers-That-Be were to improve the parking lot it would only make the situation worse, I think any solution that make the lake more popular or easier to access is a bad one.

I can’t see a reservation system working at an area with free camping; folks could reserve a site for every weekend during the summer and then just pick the one with the best weather. I would hate to see a reservation with fee system go into effect, I don’t like fees and I like the option of heading out at the last minute. (I would not choose Low’s as a last minute trip on a nice weekend in the summer.)

My thought would be to put in a nice parking lot about half a mile up the road and make people carry to the put in. This would limit the number of folks using the lake. I realize that people are going to get really pissed off about this but it’s obviously not working out currently and there needs to be some change.

Another thought would be to eliminate all the sites below upper dam, Hitchins pond would still be a great day use area. A few more sites could be created farther up at the West end of the lake for those willing to work for their “wilderness experience”.

I realize that my thoughts are a bit harsh and maybe to far “out of the box” but if Low’s is going to be preserved as a wilderness than perhaps something a bit ruthless needs to be done.
Another thing is .(and I'm guilty of it too) but this forum doesn't exactly help keep things a mystery. Since I've been a member I've seen more talk about the Lows area than any other paddling destination in the Adirondacks.

Sometimes I wonder if the whole "internet thing" isn't the beginning of the end for finding "quiet destinations" to paddle in the peak months unless you pack- boat in and bushwhack....I've gotten so I don't even go much on the weekends this time of year. Sometimes I think that people should PM each other more for info. rather than just putting it all out there all the time. That whole area up that way with Lows, The Bog & Lake Lila etc. seems to be getting like the "high Peaks" of paddling.

Last edited by paddlewheel; 08-18-2009 at 09:01 AM..
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:34 AM   #15
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Blame Adirondack Murray - he started it all. Since 1869, people have been sharing information about Adirondack destinations. It's nothing new, the Internet is merely the latest method.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William...arrison_Murray
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Old 08-18-2009, 11:16 AM   #16
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There are lots of sources around that are causing the increase of visitors to certain areas. Raquette River Outfitters recommended the trip to AppleCrisp. Dave Cilly’s new guide and map are certainly creating some interest as are forums like this, blog and websites, magazine articles, etc. I would never have been aware of the Whitney Loop if it wasn’t for the new guide and recent writings about it.

The new interest is inevitable and not necessarily a bad thing although it will certainly have consequences. The first places people are going to go is to the places that are easy to get to, the most value for the least amount of effort.

So, a place gets a lot of use for whatever reason and certain problems arise, not enough parking, overused campsites, more undesirables and poorly educated campers. If the access is improved it’s only going to make the situation worse, the problem isn’t not enough parking, the problem is that too many people are using the resource.

I would like to see access to Low’s Lake made more difficult. There is another alternative, the parking and lack of enough campsites could be remedied buy putting in a larger parking lot and adding sites to the lake.
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Old 08-18-2009, 02:55 PM   #17
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This is my opinion. This forum might be a lower volume website than paddling.net but still attracts some incremental use. I would mention Adirondack Explorer news journal (not in a negative way since I am a frequent photo contributor!) as an example of occasional published coverage on these places that raises awareness.

But I attribute perhaps the most sizable increase in the use of the Bog River flow, Little Tupper, and Lake Lila thanks to frequent queries, discussions, and trip reports on the Paddling.net website. Anyone who underestimates the power of the web as a communication vehicle id not realizing its use in both the home and office down times.

It is Paddling.net that is more visited by neighboring state paddlers who read up on these places as wilderness camping opprtunities.
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Old 08-18-2009, 03:27 PM   #18
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I'm glad I sparked such an interesting conversation! My personal stressing out became a discussion of stress on Lows Lake. Since I haven't been to Lows yet, I can't comment directly but in my handful of backcountry camping experiences, we have almost always reserved a site ahead of time, paid a fee, and been required (willingly of course) to watch an orientation film or meet with a ranger. This system has the advantage of limiting the number of people that enter a wilderness area and increases the likelihood that they are invested in their trip, are prepared, and are good stewards of the environment. The down side is the human power needed to take reservations, issue permits and maintain the sites and for the camper, the lack of flexibility. The sheer vastness of the Adirondacks makes controlling the backcountry a daunting task.
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Old 08-18-2009, 05:27 PM   #19
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Want to cut down on traffic on Low's ? Block the road to the dam put in and make people access it via Lila or the Oswegatchie
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Old 08-18-2009, 05:41 PM   #20
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Want to cut down on traffic on Low's ? Block the road to the dam put in and make people access it via Lila or the Oswegatchie

I have a PakBoat so I could fly in, at least for the next few year.
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