Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kayaking The Narrows - Lake George, NY - 5/3/13

While our perfect weather pattern was continuing on for the second straight week, I took Friday to paddle the Narrows of Lake George before tourist season brings the motor boats back in force.

I launched from Shelving Rock, having parked at the end of Shelving Rock Road ( lot #6) and carrying the boat 400' to the water.  

I spent the better part of five hours paddling around, stopping at islands to explore.  I think I landed on ten islands, and passed by probably ten others.  My map at the end of this post shows where I went.

The islands are closed to camping until May 16, so I was free to roam.  There was very little breeze, but the black flies weren't overwhelming.  I went from island to island making mental notes of which islands and campsites I liked the best.  I should have brought a pen and paper.  There are so many islands and campsites, it's hard to remember them all.

Case in point.  I've already forgotten where this is...

My favorite site (It takes up this whole peninsula)

After a while of island hopping, I started to get picky about the sites.  Most of them are nice.  They are good size and most have sufficient privacy.  Here are some things to think about that are unique to island camping:

Does the site have a dock?
Is it a private dock or a shared dock?
Is there a tent platform?
Is there easy access for swimming (kid friendly)?
Is the water access sandy or rocky?
Is there a location for diving?
Is the site near a boat channel that gets lots of traffic?
Does the site have protection from the wind of the open water?
Is the island a single-site island, or multi-site island?
How far is the island from shore or the ranger headquarters?
Is the outhouse a small old style privy or one of the larger solar powered composting toilets?

A nice mix of sun and trees

All of the sites have a picnic table and a fire ring.  One thing to keep in mind is that no dogs are allowed on any of the islands, even the day-use picnic islands.  Dogs are also not allowed on boats when boats are tied up to the docks.  All sites are reserved through  Day use permits can be obtained from the ranger stations.  I'm not sure if they can be purchased on-line. 

In general terms, the quieter islands are the ones further to the north.   I've now seen quite a few of the islands and sites.  I've got my favorites.  How about you?

Uncas Island

I was psyched to see a pair of loons out on the lake.  I'm always amazed at how long they can stay underwater.  I bet I've seen them duck under for 3 or 4 minutes at a time.

Loons on the lake!

Hens and Chickens Island

Site #1 on Hens and Chickens Island

That's all one campsite!

Back to open water

It's great to be out on the lake early in the season.  If you are out in a canoe or kayak, be sure to watch for boat traffic if you are out on the open water.  Especially during the summer.  Get out there now!  You'll be glad you did.

My route for the day... (Click image to enlarge)

Paddle Stats:
Total Paddle Distance:  9.3 miles
Total Time:  5 hours (including island exploring time)


  1. Nice tour of the Islands! I'll have to hit you up for recommendations for island camping this summer. Recluse Island and the Gems (Big and Little) are some of my favorites.

  2. Anyone have info on Dix (pix) island? Its on the south end next to diamond. But cant seem to find info on it.

  3. Dicks (or Pix) are just two tiny islands next to Diamond Island, which is a day use picnic island. There is no info. on them since they are so small.

  4. Hi- Great info and great pics. I have an important question. We are camping on Big Burnt Island in August (I discovered these islands too late to be picky.) I'd rather launch in Shelving Rock than Bolton Landing. You mention Lot #6. Is this State? Public? Private? We'd need to park for 3 nights and would really rather stay on East side of Lake and not have to make paddle crossing from Bolton. Are we nuts to even consider crossing from Bolton with a canoe and 3 kayaks? Thanks so much for any info.

    1. Lot #6 is on state land. It doesn't look like a "lot". It is a gravel pulloff on a gravel road. There is a little wooden sign. There is no mention of maximum parking time.

      Near the end of the road is a gate. Beyond the gate is private property. It won't matter since you can park before the gate in one of the lots and carry your boat a couple hundred yards to the lake.

      A couple things make crossing the lake dangerous. 1) There is a lot of motor boat activity around Bolton Landing and the middle of the lake in general. Some boats move quite fast. Kayaks are hard to see. You should use extreme caution if crossing in the summer during tourist season. 2) Wind. The lake can be quite choppy if there is wind. It's a large lake. It may be calm at times, but it can also be difficult for kayaks and canoes.

      Have a great trip, and thanks for reading.

  5. The first picture is from a campsite on Uncas island. We used to camp on that island every summer.

  6. I came across your blog and great pics. It's a goal to make it to Lake George. I will put your link in my blog post.

  7. This is great! I've always wanted to find a nice spot to kayak on lake George! Somewhere kinda quieter where you can explore! This looks perfect! Gonna have to check this spot out! Thanks for sharing!