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The quintessential weekend tour in upstate New York’s Adirondack Mountains explores the Saranac Lakes. Lower, Middle and Upper Saranac have many sandy beach and island campsites with great views of surrounding mountain peaks. Depending on your affinity for portaging (tip: bring a set of portage wheels), several route options radiate from the Saranac Lakes on the Raquette River or following the Saranac River to Oseetah Lake and Lake Flower. Avoid the summertime crowds and enjoy fall-color scenery by planning a trip in late September. Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters (adirondackoutfitters.com) is your best bet for rentals and local knowledge.
If you can manage to escape the congenial East Coast hospitality and famous lobster feasts of its seaside communities, Penobscot Bay’s 60 square miles of island-pocked North Atlantic seascape offers something for sea kayakers of all levels. The town of Stonington is the launch site for a multi-day exploration of a 60-island archipelago. Become a member of the non-profit Maine Island Trail Association (mita.org) beforehand for insider scoop and a detailed area guidebook.
A tour of Pacific Rim National Park’s Barkley Sound captures the best of sea kayaking the outer Pacific coast—a diverse mix of marine mammals, lush rainforest vegetation and jaw-dropping views of the snowcapped peaks of Vancouver Island—without the worry of encountering towering seas and treacherous currents. Lady Rose Marine Services (ladyrosemarine.com) offers novice-friendly access to the Broken Group Islands aboard the historic MV Lady Rose, which sails from the town of Port Alberni, 120 miles from Victoria, B.C. Take up to a week exploring the more than 100 islands, which are equipped with seven wilderness campsites (for permits visit pc.gc.ca).
The Sea of Cortez is a marine biodiversity hotspot, home to nearly 900 species of fish and one-third of the world’s whale and dolphin species. Combined with the spectacular volcanic spires of the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains and an unusual desert shoreline, it is little wonder Baja’s Loreto Bay National Marine Park is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a favorite destination for winter sea kayakers. The potential for strong winds and large seas makes the various route options between the communities of Loreto and La Paz best for intermediate to advanced paddlers; novices can sign up for a guided trip with an outfitter like ROW Sea Kayak Adventures (seakayakadventures.com).
A quick glance at a map confirms that Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay deserves its ‘30,000 Islands’ alias. A weekend-long introduction to the area can be had by circumnavigating Franklin Island, which lies at the heart of an archipelago of glacier-scoured granite islets topped with windswept pines and inhabited by endangered (and generally harmless) Massasauga rattlesnakes. The launch site at Snug Harbor is located just down the road from the White Squall Paddling Centre (whitesquall.com), a local outfitter, north of the town of Parry Sound. Franklin Island is also the jumping off point for longer, more adventurous trips to the isolated Mink and McCoy islands, five miles offshore.
— CANOE & KAYAK - Conor Mihell