I am drawn to water like a moth to light. The sound is therapeutic, the movement is hypnotic. Simply put, a day on the water is good for the soul. My love affair with water has lead me to countless towns that hug the water's edge. While the water is a draw, it takes more than that to make a place a cool paddling town. It needs the combo of water galore and water ingrained in day-to-day life. I have dropped anchor in Saranac Lake because it is legit. And here's why.
Lake in the Name
When a town has "lake" in its name, it better give off a solid water vibe. Saranac Lake doesn’t disappoint. Set in a remote mountain valley, Saranac Lake offers land, water, and seclusion. It is smack dab in the center of the Adirondacks' 30,000 miles of paddling routes. Surrounded by the Saranac Lake chain of lakes (after which it is named), tons of smaller bodies of water, and the nearby St. Regis canoe area.
Saranac Lake has right-out-of-your-backdoor paddling abundance. You can begin and end your day on the water right from downtown. Lake Flower is the show piece in the middle of town. It's actually the result of damming the Saranac River, which runs through town and connects to the Saranac chain. It is a daily reminder of how connected you are to the water.
As far as launch-ability it doesn’t get more convenient. In the Saranac Lake area the NYS DEC operates 12 public boat launches. Another perk of all this water is boat-access-only camping; between Lower and Middle Saranac there are 87 campsites. From dropping your canoe into Lake Flower after lunch, you can be sitting fireside at a campsite by evening.
There is no doubt that Saranac Lakers have hometown pride. They are all about supporting the common good and having fun while they’re at it. It’s no surprise they have a long list of cool events.
A couple traditional long-standing water events:
The Adirondack Canoe Classic, also known as the 90-miler, started in the early '80s. It is a three-day 90-mile race. The course starts in Old Forge, NY, and finishes on Lake Flower.
The ‘Round the Mountain canoe race started in the late '80s. The course circles Dewey Mountain; starting in Ampersand Bay and finishing on Lake Flower.
A couple of hip homegrown water events:
Adirondack SUP Festival is a weekend of stand-up-paddleboard inspired activities for the family on Lake Colby, including an intro to SUP clinic, on-water demos, guided SUP tour, after school kids session, and races. There are long and short course races, and just for fun races — including a pooch race and a tandem sprint.
The Saranac Lake Cardboard Boat Races happen on the shores of Lake Flower. Cardboard boat race participants have to construct a boat using cardboard, duct tape, glue, and latex paint. Award categories include Best in Show and Most Spectacular Sinking. All proceeds are donated to the Northern Forest Canoe Trail's Northern Forest Explorers scholarship program, a program that gives local kids the opportunity to spend a week outside paddling, camping, and learning outdoor skills.
There are some 100 communities in the Adirondacks. Saranac Lake is the coolest one thanks to the fresh water and real people. Life here is seamless, from work to water to chilling out in town. Canoes on cars and Chacos on feet are a common sight. Before or after paddling, spend time downtown and enjoy historic architecture, live music, art galleries, a variety of dining options, speciality shops, and outdoor outfitters.
Eats: Blue Moon Cafe, Fiddlehead Bistro
Beers: Bitters and Bones
Coffee: Origin Coffee
Gear: St Regis Canoe Outfitters, Adirondack Lakes and Trails, MAC’S Canoe Livery
Music Venue: Berkeley Green stage for free outdoor Wednesday night concerts