River & Rail
~Article written and pictures taken by Linda M. Grace
Publicity Clerk, Old Forge Visitor Center
The sky was a perfect blue and bright with the sun. The warmth of the sun’s rays felt good to our vitamin D deficient skin after so many cloudy, rainy days of last summer. It was perfect day that begs to be used for some outdoor fun. So, a friend and I decided to do the River and Rail Trip offered by the family owned and operated outfitter, Tickner’s Canoes in Old Forge. We bought our tickets early to ensure our spots on the train. We each had our own kayak but Tickner’s does have kayaks and canoes for rent. The staff at Tickner’s was very helpful and knowledgeable as they answered questions and they even helped us launch our boats.
The mystical beauty of the Moose River always captures my attention, whether driving over it on the Route 28 bridge or the Green Bridge, or walking across the TOBIE Trail bridge. I was looking at these bridges from a different point of view as I was passing under them as a part of that esoteric flow.
The curvy path of the Moose River winds around tufts of small, grassy islands that could be hiding refuges for wildlife. On one such island, we saw two turtles poised on a log as if they were just getting ready to kiss.
It is a pleasant paddle to where we must get out before the Lock and Dam. We decided to have our lunch on the grass there. As we ate, we heard the train across the river and watched and waved at its passengers as they went by. Later that day, we rode a returning train overlooking other paddlers and onlookers. It's a great Instagram picture opportunity and, for those of us who are still “old school,” it’s as pretty as a postcard. After lunch, we do the quick carry around the Lock and Dam to continue our trip downstream.
|Lock and Dam|
Part of the mystique of the Moose River is how curvy it is - an adventure just waiting around each bend. Of note, it is these very waters that the 1800’s steamboat, the Fawn, used to travel as it carried passengers up to another river to the dam. The Fawn passengers, opposite to us, would start their day riding the train to McKeever to the Lock and Dam, where they would continue their travels on the Fawn. From there the passengers would load onto another steamboat that would carry them to the Fulton Chain of Lakes.
The current pushed our kayaks ever so gently. We held our paddles on our laps, and laid back in our boats, allowing the water to carry us along as we soaked up the sun. It was a pleasant, relaxed way to spend our Saturday.
This was our first time doing this trip, so we had started a little earlier than the suggested time; because we weren’t really sure how long it would take us to get to where the train was to pick us up. But we felt confident to make it by time, so we paddled at a slow, comfortable pace. Along the way, there are old paddles serving as sign posts to let paddlers know how many more miles they have to go.
|The Moose River with the railroad beside it.|
Most of the trip, we were silent, enjoying the peace of the woods on both sides of us. But sometimes, the magnificence of it all fairly overwhelmed us and we shared how blessed we were to be able to enjoy such splendor. We both work a lot and are very busy outside of work as well. Making time to do this trip involved some planning and meant leaving other things to do for later. But we agreed that spending a day like this is good for our well-being.
I remember reading that between 1885 and 1954, people suffering from tuberculosis were sent to the Adirondacks to breathe in the fresh mountain air as part of their treatment. Healing, peace, fresh air…seems good for whatever ails you!
The miles on the river were easily maneuvered and it wasn’t long until we had the option of riding through some mild rapids or to take our kayaks out for a carry. We chose the easy, flat carry. It was a pleasant walk and felt good to stretch our legs. Then a fast vertical paddle across the river brought this part of our tour to an end.
|The canoe topped shelter|
The ride to Otter Lake was a pleasant one, as the tracks run through some charming woods. A lot of the way it also travels alongside the Moose River.
It was nice to continue to see the water’s glistening magical effect from the train’s windows. The train has seating choices of seats with tables and enclosed windows or open air cars where the windows are open. The train also has a small Café Car offering drinks and light food choices. It was a unique experience seeing the Lock and Dam from the train and the brightness of the day helped me get some good pics of this.
At the railroad station in Thendara, Tickner’s van was there waiting to pick us up. We helped unload our boats and put them on Tickner’s trailer. Everyone was pleasant and happy. It was an easy, family-friendly paddle that is approximately six miles in length. All that basking in the sun left me sunburned, but very content. Now when I look out over the Moose River from the various Bridges, I will have fond memories of this day on the River and Rail. And my friend and I are making plans to do this trip again in a few weeks! We’ve decided that it might just be an annual tradition.
Tickner’s Moose River Paddling Trails
113 Riverside Lane, Box 26
Old Forge, NY 13420