The Northern Forest Canoe Trail
Through-Paddler's Companion

A guidebook to paddling the 740-mile water trail from its western terminus in Old Forge, New York to the eastern terminus in Fort Kent, Maine.

260 pages. By Katina Daanen

2) Raquette Lake to Long Lake, NY

Sample Segment Description

Revelry and taps may greet the paddler who spends the night on Raquette Lake. The Raquette Lake Camps for Boys and Girls have continuously operated on this lake since the 1916. Motorboat "taxis" can be seen transporting campers and staff from the Raquette Lake Hamlet and between the two camps. The tourist boat, the W. Durant, offers nightly cruises. The town has a general store, a taproom and a library with Internet access and is a busy hub for summer visitors.

Raquette Lake is your first big lake with open stretches of bays where wind conditions can be unpredictable, but also several islands and coves where you can seek refuge. Forked Lake is less developed than the lakes through which you've traveled thus far and will seem far wilder.

Two state-run campgrounds along the route and several lean-tos offer camping options all the way to Long Lake. Both Forked Lake and Tioga Point State Campgrounds have fee collection stations and the ability to register for an open campsite or lean-to on the same day. Forked Lake has potable water. Tioga Point does not.

The Village of Long Lake has restaurants, lodging, a general store and a library. Pontoon planes use the lake for their runway, which are both a novelty and a nuisance.

Four portages will make this a long, 23-mile day. Two portages can be considered completely wheelable, but be prepared to carry your gear around Buttermilk Falls and the last portage around the rapids in the Raquette River.

Overnight accommodations in addition to camping are available within this section.

Portage Details

#1) Forked Lake Access: Wheelable
.5 miles between Raquette and Forked lakes. A well-marked take-out adjacent to a summer home leads from Outlet Bay on Raquette Lake following a gravel road to the put-in at the boat landing on Forked Lake. Strap on those wheels and go. At the intersection of North Point Road, you'll see one of the more unusual signs of civilization seemingly in the middle of nowhere, a public phone. While Map #1 makes it appear as though Outlet Bay connects directly to Forked Lake, the waterway is boulder-strewn with typically low water and is considered impassable.

#2) Forked Lake to Raquette River: Wheelable
1.5 miles-all road until the turn off trail leading to the put-in. Follow Forked Lake Road from the boat landing out of the campground to the marked turn off at a bend in the road. The uneven trail leads to the river. Put-in by the lean-to/camping area. This site is popular and can be crowded. If you are using wheels, the road provides an opportunity to try experimenting with harnessing yourself to your boat using the bowline. Don't forget to fill up your water bottles by the Forked Lake Ranger Station before portaging.

#3) Buttermilk Falls: Carry
.1 miles around the Class IV falls. This is a short carry around the scenic waterfall along an uneven trail and over boulders. Do not waste time attempting to use wheels.

#4) Lower Raquette River to Long Lake: Not Easily Wheeled
.6 miles following a rocky and rooty trail. Parts of this trail can be wet and soft, and the occasional boardwalk and large stepping-stones make wheeling questionable.

NFCT Map: 1
Total Miles: 23
Milepost: 43
Portages: 4
Type of Watercourse(s): 3 lakes and
1 downstream river

Points of Interest

  • Free-standing phone booth on Forked Lake Access Portage


Raquette Lake Hamlet, NY:
General Store, Restaurant, Lodging, Library,
Post Office

Long Lake, NY:
General Store, Restaurant, Lodging, Library,
Post Office

Overnight Options and Distances From Raquette Lake, NY

Raquette Lake 1.5 Miles
Big Island campsites
Lonesome Bay 4 Miles
Tioga Point 5 Miles
State campground (fees)
Outlet Bay 8.5 - 9.5 Miles
Forked Lake 12.5 Miles
DEC lean-to
Forked Lake 14 Miles
State campground (fees)
Raquette River 15.5 Miles
Portage lean-to
Long Lake 18.5 Miles
Deerland lean-to
Long Lake 21 Miles
DEC public lands opposite Moose Island
Long Lake 23 Miles
Hotels, motels, cabins

The information contained within this publication is the result of the best efforts of the author using information obtained from personal experience, interviews, paddler blogs, trail data and facts available at the time of publication. Changes in environment and economics are constantly occurring and therefore, information cannot be guaranteed to be precisely accurate. This book is not a substitute for outdoor skills or good personal judgment. Any outdoor recreational activity is potentially hazardous. Each user of the information presented on this website or in this book must accept personal responsibility for his or her own safety and orientation. Always wear a pfd.

All rights reserved. No portions of the content of this website or the guidebook may be reproduced without the express written consent of the author or publisher. Illustrations and photography remain the rights of Katina Daanen or any other credited contributors.

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