Text by Guest Blogger: Hannah Babcock
Photos provided by ROOSTer Kim Andresen, also an avid fan of this secret beach AND ice cream. Many thanks to our fun-loving & photogenic friends Clayton & Abby Johnson and family.
What to do... what to do?
If you find yourself sitting outside on a beautiful day in Lake Placid and trying to think of something to do to take full advantage of the day - but you’ve been up Whiteface, you’ve seen the ski jumps, you’ve kayaked on Mirror Lake, and you’ve hiked Cobble - maybe it’s time to take a drive. Out past Saranac Lake, past the Adirondack airport on route 186, just across from Charlie’s Inn campground on route 30, you will find the hidden gem that you’re looking for: the secret beach on Lake Clear.
While on your journey, the first order of business should be to stop at Donnelly’s for ice cream. At first glance, Donnelly’s is just a small white shack on the side of the road, but upon further investigation it is so much more. Throughout the summer and all the way up through Labor Day, the crew at Donnelly’s makes soft serve ice cream. Not just any ice cream: a new exotic flavor every day of the week (in addition to the classic vanilla and chocolate of course). Following the weekly menu from blackberry to pistachio will turn the 30-minute trip into a Sunday staple.
Looks can be deceiving
Once you finally drag yourself away from Donnelly’s and head out onto the next leg of your adventure, you see Charlie’s Inn and Campground. This is a beautiful property with comfortable and rustic furnishings, not something you would necessarily expect to find out here in the woods. Across from the Inn the left hand shoulder of the road expands just slightly; if you’re not looking for it you may just miss it. There is a tiny trail that leads into a thick grove of pine trees. I recommend bringing floaties, towels, sunscreen, bug spray, and a cooler because you are going to be there for quite a while. As you follow the trail through the woods, across the rather large bog, you will encounter a significant population of mosquitos (I frequently run through that part - but a good dose of bug spray will also do the trick!).
Then as you walk for what seems like forever - but is really only a couple of minutes - you arrive at your destination: a small stretch of sand covered in driftwood and afternoon sunshine.
The sparkling, inviting lake draws you in immediately and as you splash through the shallows you realize that you can walk out into the water about 100 yards before it even comes close to being over your head. There are often dogs frolicking through the reeds at the far end of the beach, chasing frogs as their owners sip cheap beers and soak in the sun.
A full day of Adirondack fun
As an added bonus, we once found an old grill top in the woods and it has since become a perfectly sized fire pit. As the sun goes down over the lake, it’s easy to gather brush and small logs from the surrounding woods and before you know it you have a blazing fire that brings on the Adirondack ghost stories and roasted marshmallows. As you gaze into the hypnotic flames, you’ve officially taken advantage of that beautiful day.