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September 6, 2013

West Canada Creek should be on your list

The Daily Star

---- — This past Labor Day weekend, we returned to the West Canada Creek Campground outside of Poland. It’s a great place to go and just a little more than an hour from home.

For years, we’ve parked our camper there and used it as a hub for my many interests. Being in close proximity to the Adirondacks, I’ve hiked and biked as well as fished and then returned to enjoy quiet evenings around the campfire.

This year, we took our kayaks and spent some time on the creek. The West Canada Creek is a wonderful stream. The four or five miles of water above the campground is usually a tranquil river. There’s no white water, just long stretches of quiet pools with a few small riffs and shallow spots.

So some of you might ask, “What’s the great attraction?” Well, it’s a great place to just drift along, relax and observe wildlife.

I might note that there are sections of this river that are classified as white water, but that area is farther downstream — below Middleville when the river level is high or when they release water from Hinckley Dam.

We put our kayaks in at a pull-off along Route 28 just below the junction of Cincinnati Creek. Within a few moments, we were on our way.

As the river wandered around the first bend, we had a mother Merganser duck and nine ducklings come out of the grass and weeds along the shore. They paddled as fast as they could upstream a few yards before disappearing into the reeds again.

A short ways farther along, a nice trout broke the surface of the water, feeding on flies that were hatching.

Speaking of trout, this creek is a magnificent fishery. The no-kill section below Trenton Falls holds some terrific fish and is easily accessible.

We paddled quietly along and passed several groups of people floating on tubes in the slow-moving current. It takes those who float the river in tubes and blow-up boats between three and four hours to make it back to the campground, but our journey would be much faster.

Before long, we passed under the first Route 28 bridge. A great blue heron stood in the shallows under overhanging hemlocks trying to feed on small fish. She was undisturbed as we passed by.

Suddenly out of the tree tops to our right, an immature bald eagle took flight. This large bird was just starting to get white feathers on its head and tail. It flew a couple hundred yards downstream before landing in another tree top on the opposite side of the river.

The young eagle didn’t seem scared by our presence. As we approached, it would fly a little farther downstream and wait for us to catch up.

Canada geese swam near the shore, a small flock of mallards flew up as we rounded another bend, and a doe and her spotted fawn drank from a quiet backwater as we glided by.

Finally, we reached the campground and pulled into shore. Kids were splashing and yelling in the river, so the tranquility of our journey had come to an end.

I was actually surprised by the abundant wildlife we had seen on the creek. With the steady armada of tubes and little boats constantly floating on the creek, the wild creatures had learned to adapt to the constant flow of people.

Each month I get the Outdoor Discovery Newsletter from the DEC and it lists great places to watch wildlife. I’m sure it won’t be long before the West Canada Creek is on the list.

What’s happening?

Avid hiker and photographer Tony Versandi will run an outdoor photography workshop on the summit of Balsam Lake Mountain from noon-2 p.m. Saturday. Tony will help people learn how to get the most out of their cameras for distant views and landscapes, as well as close-ups of plants and animals. Rain date is Sunday.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at