The Best Summer Getaways: St. Lawrence and Watertown, New York

Paddle the Empire State

May 14, 2012
Outside Magazine
St. Lawrence River

St. Lawrence River    Photo: Kim Lunman

Within 3.5 hours of the Albany airport, you can sea-kayak among storied shipwrecks, paddle Class IV rapids, and splash around in some of the country’s oldest lakes. First make for the St. Lawrence Seaway, home to the 1,864 leafy Thousand Islands, which range from rock outcroppings just big enough to hold a flock of Canada geese to Wolfe Island (pop. 1,400). Rent a sea kayak from 1000 Islands Kayaking (from $55) in the town of Gananoque, on the Canadian side of the seaway. Then paddle past a mostly submerged 1920s shipwreck, a turn-of-the-century stone castle, and overgrown war forts amid loons, pines, and granite boulders. Hole up on Wellesley Island, along the U.S.-Canada border, at the four-room, century-old Wellesley Hotel, and dig into blue crab cakes on the waterside porch (from $140). The next day, drive 40 minutes south to Watertown for a seven-mile float down the Class IV Black River with Whitewater Challengers (from $61). Circle back to Albany via Lake Placid, two and a half hours east of Watertown. Grab a cold hefeweizen from the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery, check in at the Lake Placid Lodge (cabins, $400), and dive off the hotel’s private dock.