Embark photo - Mike Lynch
A sign warns of the upcoming waterfall on the Raquette River.
Embark photo - Mike Lynch
The Raquette River is home to one of the longest stretches of silver maple floodplain in New York
Embark photo - Mike Lynch
A tandem canoe glides by Kempshall Mountain on Long Lake. A fire tower once stood on Kempshall’s peak but it has been taken down.
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LONG LAKE - Paddling from Long Lake to Axton Landing on the Raquette River offers great scenery, some history and the chance to view a pair of waterfalls along the way.

Originally used by guides, early explorers and visitors who wanted to travel from the central Adirondacks to the Saranac chain of lakes in the 19th century, this route is no longer an essential one for travelers, but it has remained popular with recreational paddlers.

This 23-mile trip starts at the state boat launch near the hamlet of Long Lake. After putting your canoe or kayak in the water, head downstream, or north, away from the state Route 30 bridge and toward the Seward Mountain Range.

Prior to starting out this trip, one must take into consideration that there is a 1.25-mile carry going around the rapids and waterfalls on the Raquette River. You’ll need to carry your gear, so pack light and have a system for carrying your equipment.

The canoe trip from Long Lake to Axton Landing can be done in a day by a seasoned paddler, but for the full experience it’s best done in two or three days. There are plenty of side trips that can be taken along the way.

On Long Lake, experienced hikers can bushwhack to the top of Blueberry Hill on the eastern shoreline for a view of the lake. The beginning of the trip to Blueberry Hill starts along the abandoned trail up Kempshall Mountain, where there was once a fire tower. Don’t follow this path to the top; you’ll only find the trail dead-ends in a thick spruce forest on Kempshall.

Instead, bring a map and compass with you and head to the peak marked either Blueberry Hill or Blueberry Mountain, depending on the map. You’ll find the mountain halfway between the hamlet of Long Lake and the northern end of Long Lake. At the start of this trail, there is a nice sandy shoreline for canoes to pull off — a great place to have a snack or picnic. Allow several hours if you take this excursion.

Another side trip, though much shorter, is the Upper Falls on the Raquette River. There is a carry trail for boaters to bypass the rapids and powerful waterfall, which is located about a quarter-mile after the rapids begin. The waterfall is about 25 feet in height, much more substantial than the lower falls, which is more of a cascade. To get to the upper falls, walk along the shoreline path that starts at the upriver end of the portage.

On the Raquette River, you’ll have the opportunity to see beavers, mergansers and one of the best examples of a silver maple floodplain in the state. Keep your eyes out for an occasional eagle, too.

For those looking for a campsite, there are plenty along the eastern edge of Long Lake. On the Raquette, there are some lean-tos where it narrows at Long Lake’s northern end. Long Lake is merely a widened section of the Raquette River, whose source is further south at Blue Mountain Lake. Lean-tos and campsites are also available at the Raquette Falls carry and downstream from there.

The trip ends at Axton Landing, a sandy boat launch just past Stony Creek. Both the creek and landing are usually marked by white signs. Expect to see them shortly after passing under a cable on the river that is used by a private hunting camp to get gear from one shoreline to another.