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Old 10-08-2018, 12:42 PM   #1
NirvanaFan
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Stillwater reservoir

I've got a couple of quick questions on Stillwater Reservoir. 4 of us are planning on going up this weekend, Fri-Sun.

What are the chances we get a campsite if we arrive just after noon on Friday? I would assume the traffic has died down, and we shouldn't have much of a problem. It's supposed to drop near freezing at night.

Do the campsites all have outhouses? What about a picnic table? Anything else?

How difficult will it be finding firewood?

We are planning on bringing two canoes. I've got a little experience paddling, but the other guys don't have much, if any. How difficult is the paddling? I've heard that the wind tends to run west to east, and it can be a little difficult coming back to the docks/parking area.

Ideally, we would love to get a site between 39-42. If we do, I assume we can launch the canoes at the bridge south of campsite 42. Can we park on the shoulder or off this road, near the bridge? If not, can we drop the canoes at the bridge, and then go park at the trailhead for the firetower?

Anything else we should know?

Thanks!
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Old 10-08-2018, 01:04 PM   #2
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...4 of us are planning on going up this weekend, Fri-Sun.

We are planning on bringing two canoes.
I canít help with the campsite questions but 4 people & 2 canoes made me think of these guys & their catamaran set-up...bring all the gear & firewood you want & no need to worry about capsizing.

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Old 10-08-2018, 01:18 PM   #3
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Hahaha, that's awesome. I've got some outriggers for my canoe, but that setup is great.
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Old 10-08-2018, 02:34 PM   #4
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Also, we're not married to the idea of it having to be Stillwater. We're open to other places if they would be as good/better. We're coming from Rochester, so it's a decent drive no matter where we go.
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Old 10-08-2018, 03:08 PM   #5
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Stillwater

Don't recall there being any outhouses, or even 'thunder boxes', on any of these sites. I did find where someone left a bucket with a toilet seat on it out behind my site, but I don't believe there are outhouses, so come prepared with a decent shovel and bury it well. No tables either unless someone built one earlier from slab wood which sometimes occurs. This is a wilderness area so don't expect any creature comforts unless you bring it in and carry it out.
It is beautiful though.
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Old 10-09-2018, 01:35 PM   #6
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Over the years I've paddled to all campsites on Stillwater Reservoir and camped at over a dozen of them. Based on my experience, I'd estimate that well over 75% of the campsites would be available at the time you expect to arrive. I camped at campsite 42 in September of 2009. It was a trivial paddle from the road. It's more of a causeway than a bridge - I know there was some convenient place to pull off here (maybe even onto the dried up lake bed???).

I remember 42 had a nice view of the setting sun this time of year. I found enough firewood when I was there for a small campfire. You can easily paddle just a short distance away and collect dead and down wood to bring back to the campsite.

I know most Stilllwater Reservoir campsites have thunderboxes. I've never seen picnic tables at these sites - but it's been a couple years. (Picnic tables, as well as outhouses would technically not be permitted at the campsites along the north shore of the reservoir since that area is designated as Wilderness).

Do note that the water level on the reservoir is drawn quite low this time of year. I don't find exposed shoreline like you see on a drawn-down reservoir attractive - but it does open up some beach camping possibilities on some sites.

PM me if you'd like more information on specific campsites - I hesitate posting information about my favorite campsites on line.
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:55 PM   #7
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Just a quick aside- outhouses are permitted in Wilderness Areas, and the switch to the thunder boxes has very little to do with trying to make campsites more primitive in character. Logistically, the thunder boxes are easier to move (a single DEC employee can usually undertake this task, whereas moving outhouses usually takes at least 2-3 people). Additionally, the thunder boxes are ADA compliant, which is also a large part of the reason the DEC has been switching over to them in most backcountry areas.

Is anyone here a Stillwater 46er- someone who has camped at each of the 46 designated sites on the reservoir?
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Old 10-09-2018, 03:41 PM   #8
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Logistically, the thunder boxes are easier to move (a single DEC employee can usually undertake this task
Saw a "new install" recently -- I was wondering how they cut those perfectly round, perfectly vertical-side holes. It looked like a perfect plug of earth was taken out to make the pit. Any clue? Or just a DEC employee with a bad case of OCD?
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:15 PM   #9
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Saw a "new install" recently -- I was wondering how they cut those perfectly round, perfectly vertical-side holes. It looked like a perfect plug of earth was taken out to make the pit. Any clue? Or just a DEC employee with a bad case of OCD?
Sometimes, you just get lucky and you pick a spot that is nothing but soft sand- and the hole just ends up looking perfect like that.

Other times, it takes 3 or 4 false starts before you're able to find a spot where you don't hit a huge rock a foot down.
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Old 10-10-2018, 11:11 AM   #10
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Thanks for the info everyone. I appreciate it.
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:53 PM   #11
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I'm not sure if you're familiar with the campsite selection process at Stillwater so I figured I'd mention it since, from your original post, it sounds like you may be considering launching from the road rather than the main boat launch.

You need to first go to the main boat launch. There is a board listing all campsites and their availability. Select your campsite there and register in the log.
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Old 10-10-2018, 01:36 PM   #12
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Yup. I did see that. We'll drive to the launch, get our campsite, register, maybe stop into the store, and then drive down the road to launch.

I appreciate the reminder though. I've been up to the high peaks area a bunch, but not around here.
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Old 10-10-2018, 04:45 PM   #13
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IF you are coming in from Big Moose, keep in mind that the road from Big Moose to Stillwater at one time had a reputation as one of the worst in the Adirondacks, slow and steady and watch for the rocks sticking up (unless that has been changed!). Coming up from Lowville via Number 4 Road was better, but you still have to watch for holes.
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:08 PM   #14
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IF you are coming in from Big Moose, keep in mind that the road from Big Moose to Stillwater at one time had a reputation as one of the worst in the Adirondacks, slow and steady and watch for the rocks sticking up (unless that has been changed!). Coming up from Lowville via Number 4 Road was better, but you still have to watch for holes.
Thanks for the heads up. We'll be coming in from Lowville but will still pay attention. We'll be driving a 4WD pickup and an SUV, but hopefully the road isn't too bad from the boat launch to where we plan on launching canoes.
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:17 PM   #15
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One other question. Does anyone know if we will have any cell service? I think we'll have people on both AT&T and Verizon. The wives like us to check in every once in a while.
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:45 PM   #16
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I went through the Big Moose end of the road for the first time last year and I didn't notice any rocks, but it was all soft beach sand. Cars went zipping along at 40 with no problem, but on my bike I sank in and had trouble. It took me around two hours as I recall to get from Big Moose to the pavement at Stillwater, but in a car or truck I am sure it would be fine unless it's changed since then. The road out to Lowville is much more solid, it's rough in places but it doesn't feel like quicksand.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:42 PM   #17
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It depends when the town comes through with a grader. If recent, then occasional big rocks will be seen along the edge of the road and the gravel in the road will be soft. if not so recent, especially after spring thaw, large rocks may inhabit anywhere in the relatively more hard packed road. I grew up visiting the area frequently from the Lowville direction. Always disliked driving the trip all the way through to Big Moose, but rarely had any reason to do so.
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:32 PM   #18
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No one who valued their undercarriage drove it at 40 when I was last up, it always took at least 1/2 hour from Big Moose to the pavement, usually longer (but I like to drive slowly, habit from MRP). I have found that many dirt roads in the 'Dacks will have soft shoulders, and it is not too hard to get a vehicle mired in the sand. I carry a come along and a heavy rope for those occasions when I forget, no 4 wheel drive!
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