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Old 07-20-2017, 01:00 PM   #1
madison
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Raquette Lake to Blue Mt Lake via Marion River

Hey All,

I am considering a paddle from Raquette Lake village to Blue Mountain Lake via the Marion River sometime in mid-September, and am looking for some general advice about this trip.

I had always dismissed this trip in the past as being too crowed, too clogged with motor boats, and too much surrounded by private land and cottages. I met a guy recently at Blue Mountain Lake Outfitters who told me that this isn't really the case, and that Eagle and Utowana lakes maintain a wild feel despite being surrounded by private land. He also said that the single lean-to on Utowana and the island campsites on Blue Mountain Lake only receive a moderate amount of use and that island sites have no motor boat pressure, that they are for paddlers only. Can anyone confirm if this is the case?

Also, can anyone comment as to the quality of the sites on the Marion River?

I plan on going mid-week in September so that alone should assure a quieter, more remote feeling experience. Thanks in advance for any knowledge shared.
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Old 07-20-2017, 01:55 PM   #2
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First, be aware that the 90 miler takes place the second weekend in September (8,9 &10). The first day's leg goes right up the Marion to Blue Mtn Lake.

The Marion is a nice paddle and I have never encountered "crowds". There are a couple of campsites and the one closest to Raquette Lake is nice, on a bluff overlooking the river. I can't say how much overnight use the lean to at the carry gets but it is a popular lunch spot.

Eagle and Utowana are nice paddles also but be aware that route 28 parallels these two lakes.......expect to hear road noise on a nice weekend, it's popular for "HOG's". However, mid week might be fine.

I have no experience with camping on Blue Mtn Lake but since you will be there after labor day and mid week there will probably be plenty of empty sites and little boat traffic.

I am sure you would enjoy it.
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Old 07-20-2017, 02:05 PM   #3
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IMO you received mainly correct information. However, the 90 mile canoe race takes place beginning on the first Friday after Labor day, so on that first day you can expect 275 canoes and kayaks to be traveling that route. I don't know anything about campsites on the Marion, I have not ever noticed any while paddling through on the 90 miler other than the one as it enters Raquette Lake.

The Marion is a slow moving river and you will be paddling upstream against a mild current bordered by a broad grassy marsh for most of the way. There may be an occasional small fishing motor boat on the Marion, but I have never seen any large or fast boats other than voyageur canoes during the race. There are a few sharp twists and turns on the second half, and there usually is one major beaver dam and a smaller one to negotiate shortly before the end at the carry.

Utowana is known amongst some of us paddlers as "The lake that never ends". It is bean shaped in a curve, so that you keep falsely thinking you see the far end as the end gently and assuredly keeps curving away from you.

Similarly, Blue Mountain is known as "The mountain that never gets any closer", because that is how it appears mile after mile as you think you should be getting closer to the day-1 finish line of the race. Eagle is definitely surrounded by private cottages, but it is a very pretty lake.
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Old 07-20-2017, 03:18 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. Right now tentative plans are to go either sun sept 10-12 or the following week, 17th-19th, starting at Raquette Lake village, camping 1st night at the Utowana lean-to, and 2nd night at one of those BLM island sites. Haven't decided yet whether to go with my old town tandem kayak (the dog rides in the front seat) or to rent a solo canoe. Can either of you comment about the length/difficulty of the carry? I've dragged the kayak for about a quarter mile or so a few times.
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Old 07-20-2017, 04:51 PM   #5
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At just over 1/3 mile, the carry is one of the easiest and shortest you will ever do in the Adirondacks. Very flat and straight. A little rocky at the take-out, a deep water dock entry or muddy step-in at the put-in. Please be sure to check for and discard any vegetation you have picked up in your boat or on your shoes prior to making the carry to prevent the introduction of invasive species into the BML watershed.
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Last edited by Wldrns; 07-20-2017 at 05:14 PM..
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Old 07-20-2017, 06:34 PM   #6
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Good information by Wilderness.

Sounds like you will be paddling an Old Town Loon? Regardless, try to get an early start as Raquette Lake can get windy and choppy as the day progresses. A set of wheels could be helpful but not necessary if you don't mind dragging the boat and a double carry.

The view of Blue Mountain in the distance is awesome as you paddle up the Marion. Some nice camps and you will appreciate the architecture of the bridge you pass under on the second day.
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Old 07-20-2017, 06:58 PM   #7
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Many moons ago I did this trip in the reverse order of what you are considering. 4 adults and 4 kids. Prepositioned a vehicle at Raq. Lk. Vil, then proceeded on to public beach at Blue Mtn. Lk. Started there in the morning. Went all the way to Raquette (the carry was easy), then hugged shore line to Tioga Point. Camped there for three nights in the lean to's then crossed Raquette early morning to village. Great trip, easy even with kids who were not great paddlers. The warning about Raquette blowing up in the p.m. seems to be one to be heeded. Although we had no trouble, we did get an early start on purpose. Fun trip.
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Old 07-20-2017, 07:10 PM   #8
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Another fun trip, put in at South Creek launch (on Rt. 3) paddle down creek to Middle Saranac Lake. Enter Saranac River, go thry a set of locks (were hand operated whenwe did it, not sure now). Paddle river to Lower Saranac Lake, many island and shoreline lean to's and campsites. Could camp for as long as you like (within rules) then enter river again and paddle to Rt. 3 launch for take out. Or you could continue thru river (another set of locks and end up in Saranac Lake Village. Same p.m. wind warning for Lower Lake and for sure more boat traffic, I think. This is another fun trip, no carrying. Awsome island sites on lower lake. Did this trip with kids as well.
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Old 07-20-2017, 09:50 PM   #9
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I've done it a couple of times, including in the 90-miler. Great trip and the lean-to on Utowanna might work, but it is pretty close to the road. Hopefully you'll have a west wind!
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Old 07-23-2017, 01:49 AM   #10
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Does anyone know if the trail from the Marion River to Lower Sargent Pond is doable? It shows up on some maps, but not others. Exploring the Sargent Ponds area would be a nice side trip on this paddle.
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Old 07-24-2017, 12:29 PM   #11
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It's been so long since I was on the trail between the Marion and Sargent Ponds that I'd be afraid to offer any advice. What I do remember is that while the trail was obvious for most of the route, there were no trail markers so having a compass bearing to follow along with would probably be a good idea.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time....be well.

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Old 08-11-2017, 08:52 PM   #12
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Raquette to Blue Mountain Lake via Marion River

Guys,

At the trailhead on the Marion to Sergeant Ponds there is an existing campsite 10 yards from the Marion where the trailhead starts.

You'll need a compass and topo map to find the spot in the reeds to make your landing from the Marion.

The trail to Sergeant is marked once you find it up the ravine, and there is a campsite on the pond with a tin boat and make shift paddles. I don't vouch for its seaworthiness, just saying. The lean to on Sergeant is on the far side from the boat at about 11 o'clock.

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Old 08-14-2017, 08:46 PM   #13
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I hiked the trail from Sargent to Marion river in Late June. I couldn't tell you where we were on Marion river but if you find the trail it's not that bad at all. One spot on the trail that hits a stream/swamp bed but otherwise very easy quick trail. It was clearly marked and broken in - this is a marked trail. There was another trail that led to Marion river from Sargent but we never found it and we were advised via Website blogs to avoid that trail if possible so we didn't go crazy looking for it.
Once you get to lower Sargent pond like skid said you will hit a campsite - take a left for easiest way around the lake. If you go to the right you will eventually hit a very swampy area but it's passable - we went this way cause we were staying on upper Sargent pond so bushwhacked the short way. Back to going left you will hit another campsite then there will be another marked trail that heads north to the leanto on the lake with a fork to upper Sargent pond and north point rd. The same trail west heads to tioga point on racquette lake.

Camped 7 years in a row in the Sargent ponds wild forest - like a second home.
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Old 08-15-2017, 03:55 PM   #14
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Guys,

If it helps, the landing from the Marion is a small grassy area behind the reeds
on a bend of the river where the tree line approaches the channel. Clues are a small
stream shown on the topo to the left of the trailhead and the fact that there is little
solid ground on either side of the channel once you're upriver from Raquette.

I found it by aligning a compass bearing from the landing to Blue Mtn. with the same
line on the oriented topo from the landing to Blue Mtn. The stream bed confirmed it.

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