On the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Photo: Tom McCorkle saranac river

On the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Photo: Tom McCorkle

The 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail has no shortage of stunning lake and river passages, but the paddle from Long Lake to Saranac Lake captures
the essence of the Adirondacks. Put in on Long Lake, where Adirondack wilderness guides famously sank a steamship
to protest the damming of local rivers, and where Native Americans and settlers fished, hunted, trapped and traded. Skirt the shores of the 14-mile lake, which are peppered with stately Adirondack camps, then glide down the burbling Raquette River into a series of smaller lakes connected via a series of century- old hand-crank locks. Section 2 isn't for the faint of heart; like many Adirondack point-to-points, it has portages—one of them more than a mile and a half—but the strain of portaging will be lessened by the beauty of the brilliant red and orange maples crowded along each shore, the colors reflecting off the clean and clear water.

Cape Romain, South Carolina   Skagit River, Washington

This story first appeared in the August 2015 issue of Canoe & Kayak.