The Bog River flows for several miles from Lows Pond all the way into Tupper Lake. Along the way it passes through Hitchins Pond, separating the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest on its north side and the the Round Lake Wilderness on its southside. A splendid paddling trip can be had from Lows Lower Dam to Lows Upper Dam. The route is over very calm and slow moving water that is fairly shallow. The round-trip distance covers about 6 miles and has many marshes and water outlets to explore, birdwatch and observe wildlife. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has produced a map of the area to help you find your way.
Access to the launch area is easy to find. Take Route 421 to the west from the intersection with Route 30 (at the southern end of Tupper Lake). Continue for a few miles until the paved area becomes a graded dirt road. Note that this route may be gated in the spring to protect it during frost-out. Horseshoe lake will be visible through the trees on your right. You will need to turn left at the next intersection and continue on this dirt road for about another mile. At the end, there is a parking area with an information kiosk. Unload here and walk your boat down to the beach area, which is within sight next to Lows Dam. If the parking area is full you can turn around and park your car along the left side of the road. Don’t let a high number of cars discourage you from thinking you are out of a peaceful adventure. The area is quite large, and it's possible that you may not even come across other paddlers. Grab your life jacket and hop in your boat as quickly as you can to avoid the bugs, as they can be very hungry on the shore. Fortunately they will most likely stay there as you paddle away.
Continue upstream with Lows Lower Dam to your back. The water narrows into a wonderfully serene flow. Proceed up the river and watch out for some minor rock outcroppings and fallen trees. As the water widens into a marsh area, there is a campsite on your right. Straight ahead there are some water channels to explore the marsh. However, you will need to head north around the bend of the campsite to continue upstream. Lilies float along the surface of the water in vibrant greens and soft reds. Long grasses stretch from the bottom in the direction of the water flow. Wildflowers emerge from from spotted lands throughout the marsh. Another stream outflow emerges in front of you from Horseshoe Pond, but continue to the west as you follow a zig-zag pattern against the slow moving water.
Several bald eagles regularly nest here, so you have a good chance of spotting one perching high above the water. There is also a very large loon population, and you may hear their characteristic call echoching between the mountains. Other birds such as ravens and ospreys can also be spotted here. Although unlikely, if you are lucky you may even see a bear walking along the shore. These animals typically stay away from people, so please maintain a respectful distance.
Continuing on you will encounter a low train trestle. Duck your head as you paddle under and proceed through to the other side. You are now over half way to your destination. Across some shallow water and around another bend the water opens up to Hitchens Pond. The mountain over the horizon to the west is Lows Ridge, and you are welcome to explore a trail to the top. Upon reaching the pond, turn left to head south and cross to the western shore. A few more campsite clearings can be see in the woods. You are aiming for a small picnic area where there is a beach and a stream outflow that is flanked by rock walls. Disembark and enjoy some time on shore. There is a sign here indicating a 2.5-mile round-trip hike up to Low’s Ridge, which offers splendid views from the summit. You can also follow the path past an old rock foundation to a rather large house and up to Low’s Upper Dam, but at the time of this writing the dam was undergoing a construction project. Some paddlers continue up into Low’s Lake, where there are several more miles of scenic adventure opportunities.
Return downstream the same way you paddled, but before heading back you may want to paddle around to the plentiful inlets and outlets of Hitchins Pond. There usually isn’t too much wind across the water, but the pond can sometimes have some small waves. The southern tip of the pond has a rather large beaver dam worth a few pictures, and you are bound to come across a few more natural surprises on your journey!
There are 39 numbered campsites around Hitchins Pond and Lows Pond that are constructed and designated with site numbers and fire rings. They are each marked by a round 4.5-inch yellow marker, and they are available for public use on a first-come, first-served basis. You must obtain a permit if you wish to stay at one location for more than three nights. Contact the Forest Rangers NYS DEC at 6739 US HWY 11, Potsdam, New York, 13676, for inquiries. Be extremely careful with fires in these volatile forests, and do not transport wood from other locations to avoid importing damaging invasive species.
Abiel Low owned 40,000 acres of land in this vicinity during the 20th century. At that time he constructed the two hydroelectric dams to bring power to the local buildings and create a navigation route. Lows Lake is a reservoir in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area that is named after his son A. Augustus Low. There is a plaque above the second dam commemorating Low, and his ashes were spread from the ledge into its waters.
Raquette River Outfitters has various watercraft available for rental. They are located on the eastern shore of Tupper Lake at 1754 State Route 30, Tupper Lake, NY 12986.