My wife and I chose the 3-day, July 4th weekend to paddle the Adirondacks. Two weeks before the date our only question was where. It was then that I noticed an Internet backpacking meetup group that I had previously hiked with was planning a trip to Little Tupper Lake.
Little Tupper is part of the William C. Whitney Wilderness area, and though only 20 miles from its big brother, Tupper Lake, it's truly a world away. Being a wilderness area, no power boats are allowed on Little Tupper making it a pleasure to paddle.
We put in at the ranger station on the northern shore of the lake, with our destination being 2 campsites on islands on the southern end, about 4 miles away. We soon found ourselves paddling into a stiff wind, with the waves making for a challenging paddle.
The scenery was outstanding but we had little time to enjoy it, because to stop paddling meant we'd quickly lose ground.
After two hours we reached our destination, with part of the group heading to one campsite and the other part peeling off for the 2nd (there is an 8 person per campsite limit). Our campsite was a gorgeous one, with towering pines and hemlocks and a nearly 360 degree view of the lake. We pitched our tents, then headed over to the other site for a community dinner of grilled filet mignon and mixed vegetables steamed in foil packets set in the hot coals.
It was dark by the time we were done eating and socializing. We paddled back to our island and being a crystal clear, moonless night the stars were simply incredible. We floated quietly for quite some time taking in the view of the night sky.
After a leisurely morning most of the group set out for a paddle to Rock Pond for lunch and a swim. Rock Pond can be reached from a stream that enters Little Tupper in the southeast corner of the lake. It was about a mile paddle from our campsite to the stream and another 2-3 miles up the stream to Rock Pond.
Along the way there was one beaver dam that was easily crossed (though we did have to get out and push the canoes over) and one short carry just before reaching Rock Pond. This stream reminds me a lot of the nearby Oswegatchie River, with frequent twists and turns through an alder dotted meadow.
Rock Pond itself is a gorgeous lake that is about a mile across and similar to Little Tupper, it has a number of primitive campsites dotting its shore and islands. It is my understanding that these campsites receive very little use and in fact we were the only party on the entire lake on this holiday weekend.
Our group found a lovely rock formation jutting out into the lake near one unoccupied campsite and spent the afternoon swimming and sunning ourselves on the rocks.
The return paddle along the stream from Rock Pond was a pleasure because for the first time we had the still stiff wind at our backs. It gave us the opportunity to stop paddling and enjoy the scenery without being blown backwards. Once we emerged onto the open lake we still had the wind at our backs, however the waves made us pay close attention to our paddling.
After another, crystal clear, star filled night, my wife and I woke up early and left the rest of the group behind in hopes of beating the traffic on the Adirondack Northway and NYS Thruway.
We were on the lake by 7:00 and were met with no wind and a glass like surface. The only sound was that of our paddles slicing into the water, the kind of moment many paddlers live for.
Unassisted and unhindered by wind we were back at the put-in in a little over an hour, including several stops to take photos.
Campsites are primitive and available on a first come, first serve.
The only amenities are a pit toilet and fire ring.
As previously mentioned campsites are limited to 8 people per site and the rangers do stop by and check.
Adirondack Northway to Exit 23. 9 North to Rt 28. Rt 28 to Rt 30 N. Continue through village of Long Lake and access to Little Tupper Lake is on your left about 10 minutes outside town.
Adirondack Paddlers Map