LAKE PLACID — Located off of Averyville Road in North Elba, the Chubb River is a winding creek that offers views of the High Peaks, a chance to paddle through wetlands and opportunities for seeing a variety of birds in the spring and throughout the warmer months.
“It can be really beautiful, especially when you get way up there ... you can see Street and Nye beyond the marshy areas,” said Adirondack naturalist and writer John Thaxton. “It’s my favorite river to paddle.”
The river is named for North Elba settler Joseph Chubb who owned a large tract of land off of Old Military Road in the early 1800s. He left the area before 1810, but his name was left behind.
For the most part, the upstream section of the river is untouched by development as it was during Chubb’s time. Much of the river is in the High Peaks Wilderness. The only development is about three-quarters of a mile from the put-in, where a house is visible from the water.
The upriver section is accessible off Averyville Road, about 1.25 miles from the corner of Old Military Road headed away from the village. The trailhead is unmarked and located on the left hand side just past a bridge over the Chubb. From here, one can paddle upstream.
On a recent excursion I found that the river becomes too narrow, shallow and filled with logs and other debris to paddle after about four miles.
The waterway originates on the northwestern slopes between Street and Nye mountains, which are themselves visible for much of the trip. From there, it continues downstream to form Wanika Falls and eventually becomes wide enough to paddle.
In the four-mile stretch from Averyville Road upstream, the river habitat is mainly boreal. Tamaracks, northern white cedar, balsam fir, spruce and pine line the shorelines. There are also stretches that wind through alder thickets, including one particular narrow stretch just before the carry when headed upstream.
When paddling you come upon the 300-yard carry after 1.1 miles. After the carry, the river widens and enters an area surrounded by marshes. It is here that views of Nye, Street and the Sawtooth mountains come into view.
“There are points when you feel like you’re in the jungle,” Thaxton said.
In the spring, the river is especially good for birding. The birds are often sitting on the vegetation along the shoreline as you paddle through. Among those you might see are black-backed woodpeckers, northern three-toed woodpeckers, palm warblers, lincoln sparrows and merlins.
On a recent trip to the Chubb, I encountered yellow-rumped warblers, gray jays, great blue herons, nuthatches and chickadees.
For the most part, this trip is relatively easy to paddle. The only difficult parts of the trip — which aren’t really that bad — are going over a few beaver dams.
“But lifting over several beaver dams and deadfalls is a small price to pay for ever-increasing rewards as one winds deviously toward the 1,860-foot contour, where the Chubb drops from a mountain pass into a primeval marshland,” Paul Jamieson wrote in the Adirondack Canoe Waters North Flow paddling guidebook.
Mike Lynch/Lake Placid News
Mist hangs over the Chubb River after a spring thunderstorm.