Years ago, when I first moved to the Adirondacks, I was invited to go canoeing in the Algonquin Provincial Park, across the border in Canada.

We were going to paddle a huge 100-mile loop. The trip was to take five days, heading down rivers and across many trout-filled lakes and ponds.

I'd been canoeing several times before that but really didn't know what I was getting into. Those of you who paddle the great 70-mile General Clinton Canoe Regatta from Cooperstown to Bainbridge might be chuckling right now because you know.

After four hours of paddling into the wind, heading down the length of the very first lake, my arms were beginning to revolt _ and we were just getting started. There were still 15 or more assorted bodies of water, a huge number of grueling portages and 4 1/2 days to go.

It turned out to be a wonderful trip with only a few minor incidents.

We camped on the shores of undeveloped lakes, were entertained by yodeling loons, dined on freshly caught lake trout and, occasionally, built make-shift sails from our rain ponchos to push us along in the wind.

The highlight of the trip was likely a huge bonfire one night on the rocky point of Big Trout Lake. We gathered a tremendous pile of driftwood from along the shore and touched it off after dark. Flames and sparks went into the star-filled sky, creating a colorful glow and drawing other paddlers in from around the lake.

But you don't have to go to Canada to enjoy such a wonderful adventure.

The St. Regis Canoe Area, located north of Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, is a unique wilderness area. There are 58 lakes and ponds that are somewhat connected by miles of numerous rivers and streams scattered across 18,000 areas of pristine forests.

The best part is that it's a paddler's paradise because there are no motorized crafts allowed. There are several routes to choose and each require numerous portages or carries. A paddler can follow designated routes or wander to his or her heart's content, creating a unique path through the wild.

Pick up an Adirondack Canoe Map or the Adirondack Canoe Water: North Flow guidebook and head north, but don't forget your fishing poles. In the past few years, several brook trout in the five-pound class have been caught in that area.

I'm not sure which lakes hold these huge fish because nobody gives up that information without a fight. All I can suggest is fish in as many as possible as you paddle along.

Many of the journeys will require two vehicles, so check out things before hitting the water. There are numerous camping areas throughout the area, so pack some equipment and spend a few days or take a day trip.

I would definitely wait until after July 4 before dipping the paddle. The time on the lakes wouldn't be that bad, but the carries through the woods would be horrendous as those black flies are always ready for a little fresh meat.

Have fun and good paddling.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. E-mail him at robrockway@hotmail.com.

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