Camping in the Saranac Lake Area
Sep
05
2017

Fish Creek is legendary. What started as 20 sites in 1926 is now 355 sites — and all but 15 are on the water!

With an almost booked-solid summer season, Fish Creek Pond Campground has broad appeal as it can accommodate equipment from tents to 40-foot RVs. It also comes fully loaded with a picnic area, beach, playground, hiking trails, biking trails, boat launch, recreational activities for kids, hot showers, flush toilets, and a trailer dumping station.

And did I mention water frontage? Fish Creek Pond Campground offers a natural-sand shoreline and water access. If you are looking for car camping in the Adirondacks, this is the place!

Camp Comfort and Carefree Days

Site selection sets the tone for your stay. If you have ever tripped over the same root 80 times or slept with blood rushing to your head, you understand. Making sure your site is relatively flat and even is step one.

In general, the sites at Fish Creek are flat with sand and grass ground cover, and mainly pine trees overhead. I hate to wake up with the sun broiling the tent, so I choose to put the tent where there will be some morning cover for shade.

From there I go with the zone method, with an area for the coolers, an area for cooking, an area for gear, and an area for relaxing. When spending a few days on a 900-square-foot piece of land, zones keep you organized and free up more time for what you are really there for — enjoying Adirondack life. Complete with loons and guideboats criss-crossing the water, this place is pretty amazing. 

Once camp is set, it's always a race to the water, which couldn't be easier with a gradually sloped, sandy shoreline. At this year's site, the water was sparkling and shallow for a good 30 feet right in front of our site, making the water warm to splash around and swim in. Water temperature is irrelevant to my kids, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Motor boats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and floatation devices of all kinds are welcome! There is even a boat launch within the campground. 

Don't forget the fishing poles! The main species found here are black bass, northern pike, and pan fish. Nearby on Upper Saranac Lake, you can also find lake trout and landlocked salmon. We had plenty of fish biting; my 8-year-old caught and released a few bass and my 3-year-old was happy learning to reel in her plastic yellow guppy. In New York state, children under 16 do not need a fishing license. So cast away, kids!

If you are looking to dry the kids off, head down to the playground. There are slides and swings, ladders to climb, and bridges to scurry across. It is a great destination for a bike ride, and conveniently located near the main entrance adjacent to the beach.

The campground is incredibly bike and pedestrian friendly. The entire 4.5 mile loop is paved and flat. If you are looking to get "off road" there is a path that runs adjacent to the paved loop, as well as the Otter Hollow Loop and Floodwood Pond Loop, which start and end in the campground.    

Eats and Evening Treats

I grew up camping with hotdogs — on a stick over an open flame — as the meal of choice.

Thanks to Pinterest there are now countless creative camp-friendly foods. From 'walking tacos' to 'eggs and bacon in a paper bag' (seriously, Google it). I made quesadilla burgers cooked in tin foil on the fire.

The kids ate better than they do at home, but I think the fresh air had something to do with it. 

While I got creative with dinner, the s’mores were 100% traditional. One marshmallow toasted golden brown and three pieces of Hershey's milk chocolate, all sandwiched between two Graham crackers.

This sweet treat gets its name from the clever combo of the words some and more. It lives up to its name! 

It is ideal for summer nights spent under the stars, where having gooey marshmallow stuck all over your face is perfectly OK.

And regardless of how many s'mores are eaten, you make room for ice cream! Because when the campground has an ice cream truck and you hear the classic ring-a-ding-ding, you have to go running. There are over 10 flavors of hard ice cream and other yummy treats. The truck is pure old-fashioned fun, and the excitement on kids and adults faces alike is an excellent reminder to stop and enjoy the sweet stuff. 

Tales and Tradition

Whether your preference is scary or funny, campfire stories have a special way of being etched into our summer memories. Maybe it's because it's a chance to unplug, to unwind, to explore your imagination. Or maybe it's the crackling dance, and the radiating warmth, of the fire. Whatever it is, I'll take more of it.  

The feeling of tradition at Fish Creek Campground is palpable. Sites are flanked with signs, like: 'The Sullivans' or 'Amy and Ryan Hanavan'; titles self-appointed in nature 'Mayor __' or 'Friend Of __'; and years attended 'Celebrating 52 years'. These are proudly displayed badges of honor. As they should be! I looked at the sign next to our site and thought — 45 years of diligently, purposefully, and willingly camping at the same place — I'm not even 45 years old!

The 35-year-old woman at the site on the other side of us told me she has been coming to Fish Creek since she was 6 months old, has never missed a year, and even got engaged in the amphitheater. She now travels up from her home in Long Island with her own 6-month-old. How cool is that? Witnessing this made me turn to my daughter and say, "Let's do this again next year."

This campground, this place — the Adirondacks — are a piece of people. A good piece. Camping takes a lot of planning; it's physically tasking and mentally tolling. Yet it is full of self gratification, and most definitely something for the memory book.

But it never hurts to spend a night, or two, at the end of vacation in a nearby hotel. A real mattress, hot shower, and made to order food never seemed so good. It's also a chance to grab a souvenir — a token to hold you over until next summer! Because you know you will be back. 


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Author:Kelly Brunette
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