I went pond-hopping south of Syracuse to Spruce Pond and Labrador Pond on Saturday, each a short drive from each other in Morgan Hill State Forest and the Labrador Hollow Unique Area. Spruce Pond is on the Finger Lakes Trail and North Country National Scenic Trail and has some primitive campsites nearby, but you can also drive right up to it. It’s quite tiny, and seeing your car parked right nearby detracts a little from the “forest” feeling, but it’s still quite picturesque and a nice spot if you just want to putter around. The campsites are free but require

Yesterday morning I volunteered with the Creek Rats during their annual creek cleanup (the 20th anniversary!) and had a fantastic time! I’ve mentioned before that as much as I love an iconic remote Adirondack lake, I also love finding opportunities to paddle close to home and in unexpected places. And the Creek Rats have been working for years to make Onondaga Creek a welcoming place to paddle and enjoy a waterway in the city of Syracuse. Onondaga Creek begins down in the Tully area and winds up through the city of Syracuse to empty into Onondaga Lake. The Creek Rats

Although the Old Erie Canal is my go-to for after-work paddling, I’ve been trying to explore other places nearby. I had to be in Baldwinsville Friday evening for work, so I took the opportunity to plop the boat on and head to Meridian, NY right after to check out Otter Lake. Apparently this and nearby Parker Pond are popular local fishing and hunting spots. And the presence of a number of hunting blinds around the lake means you might want to check the calendar before heading there. Access to Otter Lake is via a mobile home park that charges for

Spent the morning paddling and enjoying my coffee around Hiawatha Lake in Onondaga Park smack dab in the city of Syracuse (at my own risk/wearing pfd!). Syracuse Parks and Rec has kayak rentals at certain times, but you can also bring your own (at your own risk!). I’ll say, it’s a little bit of a pain if you don’t have a lightweight boat because you have to carry it from where your car is parked to the other side of the bath house. Obviously not a problem for me! Being able to explore places like this, either with your own