Our boating possibilities are both vast and varied. Even in the Adirondacks, where half the towns have "lake" in their name, the Saranac Lake area is notable for the sweep and majesty of our Saranac Chain of Lakes.
Before cars and railroads, the Saranac Lake area was still a busy place because of the abundant waterways. These lakes and rivers were used to travel from Old Forge to Lake Champlain, a distance of 140 miles, with very few land bridges. While this was not suitable for heavy commerce, it was perfect for the naturalists, painters, explorers, poets, adventurers, and philosophers who loved to visit the Adirondacks.
As other forms of transportation were developed, boating remained a popular travel option. It is a great choice for visiting some of the more remote areas while carrying enough for luxurious dining and camping. The iconic Chris-Craft motorboats, beautifully designed of gleaming mahogany, became highly popular in the 1920's and seemed made for Adirondack lakes. These particular craft soon became the "image" of Adirondack recreational boating and can still be seen on our deep blue lakes today.
Even though just being out on the water is half the fun, the other half is winding up at an interesting destination. Here are some of our favorites!
Sometimes we want to let the boat do the heavy lifting. We want to get there and relax in a beautiful spot with the water all around us.
Middle Saranac Lake is highly popular because of the many points of interest it offers. As might be guessed from the name, it is the middle, and smallest, of the three Saranac Lakes. Its broad sandy beach for swimming and sunning is on the south-eastern side of the lake. It is shallow and extends almost 1000 feet into the lake.
Along the way are many tiny islands for exploring, especially on the northern side. Much of the shoreline is part of the Saranac Lake Islands State Campground, for camping with water access only.
Weller Pond became famous in 1952 with the publication of The Healing Woods. This was the first of three memoirs written by Martha Reben about her tuberculosis healing experiences there, starting in 1931.
Now, it is known for its serene loveliness and the ease of spotting loons in residence. The remote location, with only one water access through Hungry Bay on Middle Saranac, keeps its waters pristine and full of wildlife. There are wonderful views of Boot Bay Mountain, and islands in the pond. Five campsites are available.
Pope Bay is long and narrow. The high ground surrounding it makes for calm waters and lovely scenery. Park it at Pope Island, a speck of land at the entrance, for a great vantage point for photography. Have lunch at the appropriately named Picnic Point.
It is officially Canoe-Picnic Point State Park, a day-use state facility which offers woods, ample dockage, shore dinner cooking amenities, and a beautiful gazebo where more than one marriage proposal has been accepted.
For the best of both worlds we want places we can rev it up, and gear it down. We have some special spots which are great for this kind of recreation.
Kiwassa Island is both large and state-owned, offering great exploring potential. There are rocks just right for sunning and a sandy beach for swimming.
Lake Kiwassa is half wild, and the other half offers some fine waterfront lodging. The options expand wherever we set out from, be it the Lake Flower boat launch or our own room.
And, of course, there's the tubing. Almost everyone can handle some tubing.
Shingle Bay is a famously scenic part of Lower Saranac Lake, the subject of many paintings. It is the site of the famous Knollwood Club, one of the most celebrated of the Great Camps for its illustrious guest list which included prominent naturalists and conservationists. It was a favorite of Albert Einstein's, who loved sailing there. The boathouse and some of the cottages still stand, making this bay a popular photography destination, too.
Eagle Island and Sisters Islands are opposite, creating many opportunities for scenic exploration, but then, this lake has fifty islands in total. Lower Saranac Lake is also an excellent choice for water skiing, as its shape is long and narrow, creating natural "lanes."
Fish Creek Pond is a popular camping site because of its natural sandy shoreline, waterfront campsites, access to Upper Saranac Lake, and the abundant fishing and hiking opportunities. It is part of a local network of ponds, which means we can visit a new one every day for a week, and still have some leftover.
(Shhhh! It is in contention as the Adirondack's Best Campground Ever. If you wish to camp there, make reservations early.)
Franklin Falls Flow is probably our "youngest" lake, dating back to a devastating fire in 1852 which destroyed the sawmill, hotel, and hamlet which had grown up around the falls. Paul Smith, famous local hotel proprietor, bought the land to build a dam and hydroelectric plant, which created the present, 2.7 mile long lake. Now a modern version keeps this upstart lake in existence. These unique circumstances have created a 439 acre lake which is unusually shallow, and spectacularly gorgeous.
Our other lakes were dug by glaciers, and this same process formed the Adirondacks' rugged landscape. It's rare to see the subtle differences that flooding an existing landscape creates. The water is very calm. The trees grow straight, unbuffeted by winds. The water is a slightly different color and it is easy to see the rocky lake floor in some places.
Be sure to bring your camera. It is an intense mental experience.
Bluff Island is an utterly physical thrill. A giant boulder was sheared out of the earth at some point in the distant past. It became this rugged island with sheer cliffs up to 70 feet in height, surrounded by deep water. They are fun for jumping off of, especially if a person matches the height with just enough excitement.
This dramatic island had a famous cameo in one of the 1914 Perils of Pauline serials, when the heroine leaped her horse from the highest bluff at the required cliffhanger ending. Which really had a cliff in it.
As we left, so shall we return. However full our day, we can look forward to a bit of dry land. Here we can find a great meal. Our many galleries lets us see if any local artists had been inspired by one of the sights we saw today. Other souvenirs of our stay can be had at one of our delightful shops.
Because a day on the water is like a week of vacation.