We started out about 4 PM on Friday and paddled through the upper locks (3-4 ft rise via a manually controlled lock with a ranger) and through the connecting river to Middle Saranac Lake. The winds were kicking up and so we had a nice rough headwind unto the first island where we camped. We had the boats up on land by 6:15 PM.
The camps are nice (fire pit, latrine, couple flat spots, and a picnic table). We did dinner and set up camp. I went for a refreshing swim. There was a nice breeze and a wonderful sunset.
We left camp about 9 AM Sat, paddling West. There is an easy carry at Barlett Falls. The first 1/3 is on a wide trail but uphill. We have a couple sets of wheels and so it wasn't bad. Just some lugging up the slope. The remainder is on a hard gravel road and well marked.
We put in on Upper Saranac Lake and paddled until about 12 PM to Indian Carry at the south end. This carry is a bit longer. First part was on road and easy enough. We went straight across Route 3, as marked, and continued on the trail. The flies and mosquitoes were a bit thick and the trail is narrow and rocky. We had to use the better set of wheels working together for at least half and come back for the 2nd boat.
We were on the water at Second Pond, on the north end of Stoney Creek by 1:15 PM (and glad to get out of the mosquitoes!). We headed south unto Stoney Creek, with lots of scenic twists in the river and plenty of shallow water and river grass. We saw a lot of birds and a small deer who seemed puzzled by our presence.
We hit the Raquette River and went downstream to the west to Axton Landing where we had lunch at 2:45 PM. The Raquette River is nice and wide and no real current, so paddling upstream wouldn't be too bad. We paddled into some rain that afternoon from 3:15-6:15 but we enjoyed the scenery a lot. We passed the Raquette River access off Rt 3, east of Tupper Lake and hit the last marked campsite about 15 min west of the landing as the rain picked up. We dove into the tent, ate dinner cold, and went to sleep while it rained most of the night. We were up by about 5 since we were asleep by 8 PM.
On Sunday, we started off in a nice quiet fog at 6:45 and, continuing downstream, hit Raquette Pond and the village of Tupper Lake by 9:15. At the end of the river and on Raquette Pond, there is a large amount of marsh that has many passages through it, as well as a marked channel. We did some of both. As we got towards the village, we saw a park and a sand boat launch. We put in there and set out our wet tent, etc. to dry in the sun. (There is a McDonalds across the street.)
Since we were by ourselves, we figured to use a taxi from Lake Saranac to get back to the car. Lavines 518-891-2444 took about 40 min to get there (it was Sunday morning) and they took me back to the car for $30. It is about 20 miles, so this was not a show stopper and it kept us from doing a loop.
This was our 2nd trip to the Adirondacks and I went as a Boy Scout, but don't know where exactly. The first trip was on the Fulton Chain, which after Labor Day wasn't too busy, but it was on larger lakes and there were limited camp sites. This trip had a lot more of the "wilderness feel" to it and more options.