Paddling Thirteenth Lake

I put in another work weekend at our camp in North River.  It’s not really work to me — stacking firewood and improving our trails — it’s exactly what I want to do with my free time in summer.

paddling Thirteenth Lake

I actually daydream about cabin projects from my desk at work. Six million acres of opportunity for adventure all around, and I’m completely content on just a handful of hectares.

But Thirteenth Lake is practically in our backyard. Big and beautiful and right there, the lake is hard for us to ignore. After working on the Red Trail for the better part of the day we drove to the boat launch and put in. Even on a gray day the lake is a special place.

Thirteenth Lake Map

Thirteenth is located in the southern Adirondack town of Johnsburg. It’s a good size for a natural lake: two miles long with about 4.5 miles of shoreline, it has 335 acres of surface with a maximum depth of around 40 feet. The deepest spots are along the bottom of a trench that runs parallel to shore down the middle of the lake.

Despite good accessibility, the water remains very clean. Much of the watershed is in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness and the lake completely flushes itself every four months.

Elizabeth Point
Elizabeth Point

On this day we were doing a photo shoot for the new Garnet Hill Lodge website, so we accessed the lake from the Lodge’s private boat launch. About a third of the way down the lake, we set off for Elizabeth Point, one of the notable landmarks along the shoreline.

It seemed that there was no one around and the paddling was peaceful.  As is often the case, there was a bit of a headwind as we headed to the southern end of the lake, and we stayed reasonably close to the eastern shore.

Chickadee hello

We sat on the big rock at Elizabeth Point to drink in the view. While the campsite is well used (and now sports a privy), if you sit on the point and face the lake you can almost forget about the existence of man and the impact of his tools.

The wind kicked up and we felt a spritz of rain, so we got back in our boats and headed back north towards the boat launch.

three boats

With it’s long narrow shape Thirteenth Lake feels sheltered. But I’ve been on the lake in an open-top, ultra-light canoe when the skies opened up, and it’s not an experience I’d like to repeat. For the most part, the rain held off and with the wind at our backs, we made fast progress on the way back.

Thirteenth Lake is a treasure, and we feel incredibly fortunate to have a such a big, deep, clean, beautiful and peaceful wilderness lake so close to our home away from home.

6 comments on “Paddling Thirteenth Lake

  1. Yes Denis, the easiest access is down at the north end near the “Thirteenth Lake trailhead.” See the map above. But almost all of the shore is state land so you can access it from almost anywhere.

  2. We are coming from different state for my son’s wedding in June 2018. We have heard that Thirteenth Lake is a great place to kayak. We will not have our kayaks, nor will we be able to transport them with a rental car. Do you have any suggestions on where we might rent canoes or kayaks that is either ON the lake, or from a nearby outfitter willing to transport them to and from the lake for us?

  3. Please tell me where can I stay overnite lake side at 13th to hear loons calling from my porch or yard?

  4. One thing that makes 13th lake so special is the fact that there is almost no lakeside development. Most of the shore is wilderness. You could camp at the state beach, or any of the sites around the lake. Or stay at Garnet Hill Lodge and pull up a chair on their beach. There is no traditional lodging right on the lake.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *