Paddling and Camping at Cedar River Flow

So Beautiful You Can't Stay Indoors!

With the weather so unseasonably warm this week, I couldn't resist the urge to be outside exploring with Wren at my side. After winding our way down through Hamilton County in the heart of the Adirondacks, we ended up at Cedar River Flow where a light breeze played on the water surface. Wren nosed around the launch area while I unloaded for our trip and we set off. Since the route takes paddlers south, we canoed along directly toward the sun. I had to duck into the shade along the shoreline to help us see with less glare off the water – even with sunglasses it was difficult. I spotted a Bufflehead tucked near the shoreline grasses, and I stopped for a look, pulling my binoculars out of my dry bag.

A black dog sits at the front of a canoe on the water.
Wren relaxes in the sun as we head out the Flow.

With my paddle pulled in to look at the duck, we drifted towards shore in the breeze and I soon noticed that the boat was shaking – or more correctly – quivering. Wren was fixedly watching the near shoreline with intent and trembling all over – something had her frightened. It was strange behavior from a dog who spends so much time in the woods and I peered into the trees but saw and heard nothing – perhaps she smelled something out of the ordinary? I looked again, half wondering if something large, dark, and hairy was about to emerge from the shadows. Rather than to torture poor Wren by lingering, I paddled on – the Bufflehead had, by now, flown off anyway.

A female Bufflehead swimming on a lake.
We found a female Bufflehead soon after we started.

Wildlife on the Flow

We set out onto the wide expanse of the Flow – still keeping to the shadows as much as I could, so I could scan the far side of the water which sat in the sun. Wren quickly forgot about her momentary fear and she began to doze, particularly when I took us on a path which cut through the warm sun. I eventually cut across the Flow in the cool of evening in order to explore the far side and to take advantage of the sun's warmth as well. In this way we worked our way through the bright glare, spotting a lone female Common Merganser settling down for the night on some rocks.

We were nearing our own turnaround time - we still had to return to the car and find a sleeping place - when I noticed a Bald Eagle swooping low over the water ahead – creating a lot of commotion. So I pushed on to check out the action which turned out to be about 25 Common Mergansers and about twice as many Canada Geese. The eagle was evidently testing to see if it could find an easy catch before bedtime. It had not done so and was soon nowhere to be seen. As I scanned the ducks and geese, I heard a couple Rusty Blackbirds calling from the nearby marshy edge of the Flow and then to my surprise two Snow Buntings called and flew overhead! The tundra birds landed along the shoreline, seemingly confused about where they should bed for the night.

A bald eagle soaring through the sky
A Bald Eagle was harassing the ducks along the Flow. Photo courtesy of

Setting up Camp

I watched them briefly and took a few shots of the setting sun over the surrounding hills, but then it was time for me to double time it back to the put-in to find our own place to sleep. I didn't want to be caught on the Flow all night. Seemingly unconcerned about this potential, Wren slept much of the way back and once I felt like we had made good enough progress, I allowed myself to stop briefly for more photos of the silhouetted hills. We arrived with enough light to safely load the boat onto the car.

My original plan when I began my trip was to head into the Moose River Plains to camp for the night. But the area around Wakely Dam was quiet and I thought perhaps I should check for available sites there instead. After all, I don't often get to camp there on a summer weekend when it can be very busy. On top of that I didn't feel like driving into the Plains in the dark to hunt for a suitable site. So I found a nice campsite tucked away along the Flow near Wakely Dam and Wren and I pitched up there.

A tent set up by a waterside campsite
We had quiet campsite for the night.

After a filling dinner – for which we were both quite hungry – we drove a short way into the Plains to look for wildlife in the dark, finding a Barred Owl in the process. Tired as I was, we didn't go for long and we were soon back in camp getting ready for the night when an American Woodcock twittered off into the darkness, spooked by our movements in camp. We crawled into the tent and I looked over my plans for the following day while Wren dozed and kept watch by looking out the door. My work efforts didn't last long and I soon succumbed to my drooping eyelids. We would wake the following morning to soft light on the Flow before setting off on our next adventure.

Fall offers splendid camping weather with chilly – and sometimes cold – nights and crisp days. Plan your outdoor adventure using our outdoor recreation pages. And in case you don't want to rough it, check out our lodging and dining pages while you're at it!