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Stillwater Reservoir in New York

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

Reportedly the second-largest reservoir in the state, the area does not get much traffic due to its remoteness - you need to drive 10-miles down a gravel logging road to reach the water. When I was there the water level was about 10ft low from the high-water mark, exposing several islands and shoals.

I launched on Friday afternoon around 1:30 p.m., paddled approximately 5-6 miles to my campsite at Fox Island (Site #27). Along the way, during the paddle, I caught seven smallmouths - mostly legal size (all returned to the water to fight another day). I set up camp on the island, ate dinner and then waited for the rain to arrive, while I made sure that the firewood I bought at the launch stayed dry. I set up a tarp over the provided table for a cooking area that served as a dry area for the firewood. Rains cleared on Saturday around 2 a.m., and then later in the morning/afternoon it was misting off and on.

I caught another two smallies on Saturday morning before breakfast from shore, and then another two after the rains during a short afternoon paddle around the area. Saturday evening was clear and my campfire blazed into the night.

Sunday morning, I broke camp and was packed up and headed to the launch around 10:30 a.m., arriving at the boat launch sometime around 1 p.m.

Paddling back I was going against the wind and the reservoir is oriented west to east, so the prevailing winds need to be taken into consideration on the trip back. The winds on this body of water can stir up some freak swells (so do power boaters), so this water is not for novices. The area lends itself to feeling isolated and alone, especially past peak season.

During this, my first solo kayak camping trip, my skills that I've developed over previous trips were tested and the rewarding feeling of accomplishment in a wilderness setting is the real prize.


State-run campground, Fox Island (site #27), privy (outdoor toilet), fire ring, table. The boat launch has a b&b/restaurant and provides boat rentals and a water taxi service. I tried the restaurant after the trip and recommend paddlers to stop in and check it out.


Fishing kayak (sit-on-top): Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game


No fees, no permits, but campsites can not be reserved, paddlers must claim site in person at boat launch/ranger station, first-come, first-served.


Reservoir is located down Stillwater/Big Moose Rd. Off Rt. 28 near the Fulton Chain of lakes.


"Quiet Water NY" book and the Delorme NY State Atlas.

I also recommend the NY DEC website for more information.

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water

Trip Location