-- Last Updated: Jun-15-11 4:32 PM EST --
Since my original 2008 post on this topic, here are some updates and additions:
Cranberry Lake is the third largest lake in the Adirondacks with 7,040 acres of water and 55 miles of shoreline (40 miles state owned). There are 46 free, unreserved, water accessible campsites along the shoreline and on some of the many islands. Note that all of these camp sites are motor boat accessible. The lakes shallowness (maximum depth 38 feet, mean depth 6 feet), coupled with ten miles of fetch, can the give you some wild rides in exposed areas of the lake. Prevailing winds from the southwest often blow down the wind slot, hitting Bear Mountain, Hedgehog Mountain and other terrain features to create some interesting paddling conditions. Northeast winds can strike Indian Mountain and Cat Mountain with much the same results: confused water in the central portion of the lake. Been there and done that in canoes; and been there and done that in kayaks; and kayaks can be a lot more fun to paddle especially when the wind blows! I can comfortably paddle a kayak on Cranberry on days when I wouldnt even unload a canoe off the car.
However, the beauty of paddling on Cranberry Lake is that there is usually someplace to hide: islands, bays and coves abound. The most sheltered area of Cranberry Lake is the southwestern arm, where the East Branch of the Oswegatchie River enters the lake. Rebecca and I have paddled comfortably there when there were 30 mph+ winds thrashing the main body of the lake. Packbasket Adventures lodge [url]http://packbasketadventures.com/[/url] is located here.
More secluded parts of the lake include: Bear Mountain Flow (swampy and buggy in season), the end of Brandy Brook Flow (a bit of a "Heart of Darkness" paddle), and Black Duck Hole (camp site #31 - picture perfect, but buggy in season). Campsite #11 on Catamount Island is nice, as is campsite #19 on Joe Indian Island.
For most of the year on Cranberry, paddlers have the potential to interact with power boaters, both on and off the water. Therefore, we need to keep in mind some basics of paddling etiquette. Connecticut Sea Kayakers have done a good job in this area: http://www.connyak.org/Public%20Affairs/Paddlers_Etiquette.html
All the usual suspects run their power boats and jet skis up and down Cranberry Lake from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There are clearly marked boat channels, but much of the periphery of the lake is too shallow and full of submerged debris for power boaters to speed. If boat traffic in the Canadian Thousand Islands http://www.paddling.net/places/showReport.html?2087 gets rated a 7, then boat traffic on Cranberry would be rated a 4.
While Cranberry Lake offers many opportunities to explore out of the way coves and islands, and to observe wildlife (e.g. in Bear Mountain Flow), during most of the paddling season, Cranberry Lake is NOT a wilderness paddle. However, for those paddlers with the inclination, skills and gear, paddling on Cranberry Lake from ice out until mid May, and then again from mid October until the lake freezes over, can subjectively feel like a wilderness type paddling experience.
In their book "Quiet Water", Hayes and Wilson emphasize Cranberry Lake's flora, fauna and solitude. Dave Cilleys "Adirondack Paddlers Guide" takes a rather straightforward approach to planning a paddling trip on Cranberry Lake, and merely mentions that Motors are allowed on the lake
. Jamieson and Morris in "Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow" state that while Cranberry Lake is
. the only large lake to be nearly surrounded by Forest Preserve, the motorboat traffic is
. fairly lively in the summer.
If you want to paddle Cranberry Lake when there are the fewest motor boats, then the time to be there is before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. I paddle on Cranberry most weekends from ice out (usually by mid April) till freeze up (varies). Early season the air temperature may be warm, but the water is still very cold I prefer to wear a dry suit for early and late season paddling on Cranberry. Late September and the month of October is the prime time. The weather can be spectacular; water is still relatively warm; there are no bugs, fewer people, and few to no motor boats - other than the occasional bass tournament weekend. However, Cranberry is a big lake (for the Adirondacks) there is potential for lots of fun, but also for lots of wind, waves and weather.
There are five places to put in: 1) Emporium Marina in Cranberry lake Village (private - charge unknown; located in a high boat traffic area and in the wind slot); 2) Cranberry Lake Lodge (private - charge unknown; located in a high boat traffic area and in the wind slot); 3) public boat ramp on Columbian Road in Cranberry Lake Village (free and not a place you want to be with a canoe or kayak between Memorial Day and Labor Day due to high power boat traffic); 4) Cranberry Lake Public Campground day use area ($4 to $6 for one car; I have also seen large groups use this put-in, no idea as to charge; nice put-in, but its located in the wind slot); and 5) Wanakena put-in near Pine Cone Restaurant (free, less power boat traffic, sheltered from wind, but a longer paddle to get to main body of lake).
Food and lodging options, as well as aprθs paddling activities are strictly limited. Local restaurants include: Cranberry Lake Lodge [url]http://www.cranberrylakelodge.com/[/url], The Windfall [url]http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/Windfall.Bar.And.Grill.315-848-3559[/url], The Pine Cone Restaurant [url]http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/Pinecone.Restaurant.315-848-2121[/url] and Stone Manor Diner [url]http://www.cranberrylakemotel.us/[/url]. However, before showing up hungry at any of these establishments, it would be a good idea to call ahead and make sure they are open, as their hours of operation vary with the season.
The Cranberry Lake Public Campground [url]http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/24460.html[/url] is well maintained and well run, with several sites that would allow direct access to the lake. In the busy season this a popular place, so reserve early. Also be advised that if you plan camping there on any of the major summer holidays, the campground will be a VERY busy place.
As far as I can determine, the Cranberry Lake Public Campground does not have RV hook-ups. If you need that kind of a camp site, you might try the Camper's Village Campground. [url]http://campersvillage.tripod.com/[/url] This is a small operation, so it would be wise to reserve a site early.
As regards other lodging, both Cranberry Lake Lodge [url]http://www.cranberrylakelodge.com/[/url] and Stone Manor Motel http://www.cranberrylakemotel.us/ have rooms to rent. An internet search for Cranberry Lake vacation rentals turns up several other options; most of cabin/cottage rentals are by the week.
Columbian Road has the high end lakefront housing and I assume would also have the high end lakefront rentals. Realtors who might handle that type of rental include: La Valley Real Estate (Tupper Lake) [url]http://www.lavalleyrealestate.com/;[/url] and Cranberry Shores Realty (Cranberry Lake) http://www.cranberryshoresrealtycorp.com/
The Packbasket Adventures lodge operation [url]http://packbasketadventures.com/[/url] is located in Wanakena. I saw a PBS program on their facility and they recently (2007) won some kind of small business award.
For a more complete guide to Cranberry Lake area resources, suggest checking out the information put together by the non-profit Clifton-Fine Economic Development Corporation [url]http://cranberrylake50.org/area_resources.htm[/url]
For those whose knees have not become tired from too much telemark skiing and technical climbing, the Cranberry Lake region affords some great hiking opportunities. The information below has been taken from a New York State DEC publication Trails in the Cranberry Lake Region: Official Map and Guide (2005)". A free copy of this brochure is available at DEC regional offices, or by contacting the DEC by e-mail [url]http://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/379.html[/url]
The following is just a small sample of the many hiking opportunities in the area:
1. Bear Mountain Trail [red markers] (2.4 miles) This is a loop trail, beginning at a parking lot adjacent to Campsite 27 in the Cranberry Lake Campground and ending in Loop IV. Several great views of Cranberry Lake!
2. Campground Trail [yellow markers] (2.2 miles) This trail connects the Bear Mountain trail with the Burnbridge Pond Snowmobile Trail.
3. Burnbridge Pond Snowmobile Trail (6.8 miles) A south branch of this trail leads to Brandy Brook Flow on Cranberry Lake.
4. Cat Mountain Trail (0.7 mile) Paddle down to the end of Dead Creek Flow and pick up the Cat Mountain Trail at the Janacks Landing lean-to. Short, but steep, the trail ends on the summit of Cat Mountain - spectacular views!
5. The High Falls Loop [red markers] (15 miles) This trail begins in the Hamlet of Wanakena at the start of the Dead Creek Flow Trail. Be prepared for beaver activity and more rugged trail conditions than those encountered in the above described hikes.
In addition to the above described hikes, a 50 mile hiking loop around Cranberry Lake has been recently developed [url]http://cranberrylake50.org/[/url]
Check out trip report and videos from an early spring 2009 Cranberry Lake 50 hiker
Please clean your boat to help slow the spread of zebra mussels and other unwanted species [url]http://www.protectyourwaters.net/[/url] and [url]http://www.adkinvasives.com/[/url]
Dave Cilley's Adirondack Paddlers Map [url]http://canoeoutfitters.com/maps.html[/url] has proven to be the most useful as it has the shoreline campsite numbers and contains much other paddler specific information.
However, my copy of the 1st, 2nd and 4th (2010) editions of this map omitted shoreline campsites #27, #28, #44, #45 and #46. So you may want to pick a free New York State DEC publication entitled: Trails in the Cranberry Lake Region: Official Map and Guide (2005)". In addition to hiking trails, this brochure has all 46 designated shoreline camp sites, correctly marked. A free copy of this brochure is available at DEC regional offices, or by contacting the DEC by e-mail [url]http://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/379.html[/url]
For exploring the little islands and coves, I also take along a set of 7.5 minute series of USGS Quadrangles: Cranberry Lake, Five Ponds and Newton Falls [url]http://store.usgs.gov/[/url]
For activities requiring detailed water depth information (e.g. fishing and sailing), recommend the Western Adirondacks New York Fishing Map Guide, published by Sportsman's Connection (2004) [url]http://www.sportsmansconnection.com/lakeinfo/11848-Cranberry/[/url] which contains maps that show Cranberry Lake water depths. However, not all information contained in this book may be up to date. For example, my experience is that it is no longer possible for the public to use the Ranger School as a put-in.
Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow, 3rd edition (1988, revised 1994), by Paul Jamieson and Donald Morris.
Quiet Water New York, 2nd edition (2007) by John Hayes and Alex Wilson.
Adirondack Paddlers Guide, 2nd edition (2009), by Dave Cilley, is a useful book especially when used in conjunction with Daves Adirondack Paddlers Map, 4th edition (2010). Both the book and the map are available at St. Regis Canoe Outfitters store locations (Lake Clear and Saranac Lake), or by contacting Dave at [url]http://canoeoutfitters.com/[/url]
Trip Planning and Equipment Rentals (this is not meant to be a comprehensive list as there are several other good outfitters in the area).
Adirondack Exposure [url]http://adirondackexposure.com/[/url] though located in the Old Forge area runs trips on Cranberry Lake.
Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters [url]http://adirondackoutfitters.com/[/url] is located in Saranac Lake.
Raquette River Outfitters [url]http://www.raquetteriveroutfitters.com/[/url] has locations in Long Lake and Tupper Lake.
St. Regis Canoe Outfitters [url]http://canoeoutfitters.com/[/url] has locations in Lake Clear and Saranac Lake.
Cranberry Lake Lodge has a web cam that, besides protecting their gas pump, gives a good view down the lake to the south: http://www.cedarpath.com/crancam.html
Scanned color photographs taken using Kodak, single use, water resistant cameras. Time of year is mostly late fall and early spring. Sorry no particular order, but if you wade through them, you'll get a feel for the place.
Caveat is that though these waypoints have been field checked and Goggle Earth Version 5.0 checked, a GPS unit should never be a substitute for having a map and a compass, and the skills to use them.
I carry two compasses, one on the deck and one attached to my PFD. I occasionally use my very basic GPS unit; and in addition, I always carry a second, identical, completely programmed back-up GPS unit, plus extra batteries. If you use any technology, it can and sometimes will fail.
1.Cranberry Lake Village: Public Boat Ramp Put-In
N 44° 13.260 W 74° 50.850
2.Cranberry Lake Village: Emporium Marina Put-In
N 44° 13.267 W 74° 50.250
3.Village Swimming Beach: Put-In
(Use during OFF SEASON ONLY when Beach is CLOSED)
N 44° 13.260 W 74° 50.200
N 44° 13.075 W 74° 49.818
5.Cranberry Lake Public Campground: Day Use Area Put-In (Dog Island)
N 44° 12.190 W 74° 49.818
6.Union Point: Camp Site #1 (Sandy Beach)
N 44° 11.012 W 74° 49.569
7.Camp Site #2 (Small Sandy Beach to Right of Camp Site)
N 44° 11.132 W 74° 48.338
8.Burnt Rock: Camp Site #3
N 44° 11.011 W 74° 48.200
9.Brandy Brook Flow: Camp Site #4
N44° 11.168 W74° 47.970
10.Brandy Brook Flow (Nice Sandy Beach)
N 44° 11.563 W 74° 47.562
11.Bear Mountain Flow (Small Island Sandy Beach)
N 44° 11.726 W 74° 47.470
12.Bear Mountain Flow (Good Lunch Spot)
N 44° 12.130 W 74° 47.397
13.Bear Mountain Flow (Swampy Beach)
N 44° 12.359 W 74° 47.392
14.End of Bear Mountain Flow
N 44° 12.676 W 74° 48.210
15.End of Brady Brook Flow: Camp Site #6
N 44° 12.233 W 74° 46.714
16.Brandy Brook Flow: Camp Site #10
N 44° 11.487 W 74° 47.095
N 44° 10.667 W 74° 47.620
18.Catamount Island: Camp Site #11
N 44° 10.304 W 74° 47.627
19.East Inlet: Camp Site #12
N 44° 10.178 W 74° 47.437
20.Cranberry Lake Biological Station (Near Barber Island)
N 44° 09.388 W 74° 48.043
21.Chair Rock Flow (Entry into the Flow Is by an Island)
N 44° 08.779 W 74° 48.189
22.End of Chair Rock Flow: Camp Site #17
N 44° 08.426 W 74° 47.741
23.Chair Rock Island: NE Corner
N 44° 08.818 W 74° 48.651
N 44° 08.598 W 74° 49.050
25.West Flow (Sandy Beach on a Rocky Point)
N 44° 08.482 W 74° 49.417
26.End of West Flow: Camp Site #18
N 44° 08.396 W 74° 49.536
N 44° 09.348 W 74° 49.027
28.Buck Island: NE Corner
N 44° 09.505 W 74° 48.631
N 44° 09.533 W 74° 49.291
N 44° 09.681 W 74° 49.651
31.Long Point (Joe Indian Island: SE Corner)
N 44° 09.985 W 74° 49.389
32.Joes Point (Joe Indian Island: Camp Site #20)
N 44° 10.114 W 74° 49.440
33.Joe Indian Island: Camp Site #19
N 44° 10.203 W 74° 49.616
34.Joe Indian Island: Camp Site #25
N 44° 10.053 W 74° 50.217
N44° 09.947 W 74° 50.133
36.Shanty Rock Flow: Elephant Rock
N 44° 09.702 W 74° 50.414
37.Kimbal Island: E side
N 44° 09.880 W 74° 50.460
N 44° 09.852 W 74° 50.904
39.Unnamed Island (Has an Outhouse; Good Stop on Way to Janacks Landing; High Traffic Area)
N 44° 09.561 W 74° 51.498
40.Janacks Point: Camp Site #28
N 44° 09.149 W 74° 51.585
41.Black Duck Hole (Sandy Beach)
N 44° 08.389 W 74° 51.411
42.Black Duck Hole: Camp Site #31
N 44° 08.514 W 74° 51.393
43.Janacks Landing: Camp Sites #36 and #37
N 44° 06.759 W 74° 53.539
N 44° 08.403 W 74° 52.437
45.Flatiron Point (Rock with Wanakena Painted on It)
N 44° 09.209 W 74° 52.563
46.Wanakena: Public Put-In (Near Pine Cone Restaurant)
N 44° 08.303 W 74° 54.930
47.State Ranger School (NO Public Put-In)
N 44° 08.756 W 74° 54.024
48.Wanakena Flow (Pee Spot)
N 44° 08.928 W 74° 53.474
49.Pea Vine Trail Lean To: Camp Site #41
N 44° 09.191 W 74° 53.023
50. Norway Island
N 44° 10.359 W 74° 50.002
51.Green Bay: Camp Site #45
N 44° 10.495 W 74° 50.685
N 44° 10.685 W 74° 50.193
53.Birch Island: N Corner
N 44° 11.050 W 74° 50.133
54.La Fountain Bay
N 44° 11.305 W 74° 50.651
N 44° 12.609 W 74° 50.384
N 44° 12.879 W 74° 50.413
See you on the water.