In 2002 Kathryn, Matt, Mark and I did an overnight trip from Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila shortly after NYS acquisition of the Whitney Estate. At the time we were told that less than 75 people had completed the trip. For this adventure trip we planned to continue past Lake Lila and portage to Lows Lake per the schematic below.
It was a 2 hour drive from Floyd to the Little Tupper Lake boat launch off Sabattis Road in the town of Long Lake. We met Steve at the launch about 9am and unload everything from the truck for Skip and Paul to guard while Steve and I transferred my truck to a parking spot in the Lows Lake parking lot. We returned in Steve’s car to LTL boat launch and were paddling by 11am. We headed to Rock Pond to find a campsite for the night.
Little Tupper is six miles long and at 2,300 acres, it is the 14th biggest lake in the Adirondack Park. Behind Lows Lake, it is the second biggest motor-free lake. There are 24 designated primitive paddle-in campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. To the west is a low wetland and the outlet of Charley Pond. We paddled upstream towards Charley Pond as far as the Burn Road Trail bridge. One can continue paddling further upstream for ~mile before reaching private land.
The Rock Pond Outlet is 1.5 miles of fairly wide, gently-winding stream with boggy shores. Rock Pond has a total of six campsites. We stopped at the 1st available for a late lunch at 2:30. We debated the merits of staying on Rock Pond versus trying to knock off the 2 mile portage to Hardigan Pond and staying at the unknown campsite. The Rock Pond campsite won the debate. While snacking we saw people at site 26 – the island campsite. We decided to scout the other campsites and discovered the two people on the island site were day tripping and returning to Little Tupper Lake. We set up camp, ate dinner and the light breezes kept the bugs away.
Day 2 we got up at 5:30am and were on the water by 7:30 as we had 4 miles of portages to accomplish to reach Lake Lila. We started off with a 2 mile portage to Hardigan Pond. From Hardigan Pond there was a .55 mile portage to Salmon Lake Outlet. From Little Salmon Lake there was another .5 mile portage into Lilypad Pond. Each of these portages included traipsing over beaver dams or flooded trailways resulting in soaked feet. Finally we concluded an .8 mile portage from Lilypad Pond to Shingle Shanty Brook. We paddled the meandering Shingle Shanty Brook for nearly 45 minutes until reaching Lake Lila. While all these portages showed footprints, the trails were overgrown with ferns and briars. The deer flies were a constant annoyance. While we tried to single carry portions of the portages, largely we leap-frogged our packs and the canoes. White caps were rolling on Lake Lila so we undertook tacking maneuvers to quarter the wind and stay near shore. We reached site 20 which was a large open site with a rocky beach. We went swimming, re-hydrated and cooked dinner. We set up a tarp due to rain projected in the forecast.
We awoke at 6am with the sound of light rain and packed up our damp tents during a lull in the rain. On the water at 7:30am we set off for the Harrington Brook trailhead. The Harrington Brook trail was extremely muddy so we opted to make the short bushwhack to the railroad tracks and skip the Harrington Brook trail and pond. As we trekked up the 1.2 miles up the railroad tracks the rain transitioned from light sprinkles to an absolute downpour as we launched into Clear Pond. The portage from the railroad to Clear Pond was open with good footing – the best trail of all the portages. The deer flies at Clear Pond and Bog Lake were horrendous – causing us to paddle with head nets.
Paul and I made a navigation error and prolonged our trip on Lows Lake; otherwise extending a 15 mile paddle. As the rain continued we decided to paddle out to the lower dam and head for home, rather than set up a campsite and leave the next morning. We were loaded up by 8:30pm (making a 13 hour day) and drove home to showers and dry clothes.