An Evening Paddle to Round Lake

The End of the Day

Round Lake is perhaps my favorite paddle in northern Hamilton County, and a friend and I took a chance to get out on it the other day. It was late by the time we arrived, but we pushed off with plenty of light after spotting a Great Blue Heron along Little Tupper Lake, and an Osprey cruising overhead. The evening August air was cooling quickly as we unloaded the boat, and I put on a long-sleeved shirt beneath my PFD in preparation for a chilly trip, grabbing pants for the dry bag. My friend was already well prepared.

The water was still and quiet as the late-day shadows crept across the landscape before us, blushing purple and blue. We chatted as we paddled, and Wren watched the scenery for a while before starting her usual canoe nap as the cool damp of a late summer evening continued to descend upon us.

Wood Duck - Larry
We found a small group of Wood Ducks along our way. Photo courtesy of

Wildlife on a Cool Evening

One of my favorite things about the paddle into Round Lake is the marshy and boggy waterway it follows. I find species like American Bittern there – particularly during the spring – and we soon spooked up a Great Blue Heron from one of the many beaver nearby lodges that marked our progression toward the lake. For the most part, songbirds were quiet as they usually are in the evening, but we did note species like Swamp Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and Common Yellowthroat, as well as a few flyover American Robins.

Beaver - Larry
As usual, we were reprimanded by a local beaver. Photo courtesy of

We also spotted a small cluster of Wood Ducks ahead on the waterway, feeding in the edges of the marsh in the gloomy light. They took to flight as we approached – landing further along our path – before taking off again to disappear into the dark blue sky. A beaver took a more aggressive stance to us, sliding off to the side of the channel before slapping its disapproval at our presence, the sound punctuating the quiet of crickets and other insects which set the background soundscape. It resurfaced and slapped its tail a few more times – swearing at us that this was not where we belonged.

Sunset Over the Lake

We continued on and the water began to open up as we approached the lake itself, where we were met with a slight breeze, the western sky turning golden and orange in the sun's final act of the day. We swung a wide loop along the marshy margin of the southwest shore of the lake (where I sometimes find birds of interest), before cutting out across a portion of the lake to loop a small island, pointing toward the deep purple of the eastern sky, and turning our faces to take in the brightness of the western expanse. A Common Nighthawk raced overhead on pointed wings in search of insects, and we paused for photos and a chance to absorb the world around us. It was beautiful.

Round Lake Sunset
My friend and I pause to admire the sunset while Wren chills in the canoe.

But with darkness coming, we turned for the put-in, quietly plying the silent waters as the blue of night fell upon us. We had plenty of light by which to see – and we felt the tranquility of evening wash over us as we headed back to the car. The beaver – if it was the same individual we saw earlier – was less tranquil, and we were once again reprimanded for our impudence by a few tail slaps, Wren jerking her head up to find their maker in the gloom. A Great Blue Heron lifted itself on its enormous wings, and a Common Loon wailed from the direction of Little Tupper Lake. Despite our hunger and the need to get to camp, we didn't want the paddle to end.

But we reached the take-out and I tried to find the easiest way to disembark in the dark, my friend shining a light – an indispensable tool for any night paddling adventure – to help guide my efforts. Wren was happy – as she always is – to be free of sitting still in the boat, and we walked the black road to retrieve the car and load up the canoe, strapping it on with the aid of headlamps. It was a great way to end our day.

Late summer and early fall offer splendid outdoor adventure opportunities across the Adirondacks. Don't miss out on your chance for paddling, hiking, birding, and everything else. And check out our lodging and dining pages to learn more.