The Adirondacks are home to thousands of lakes, ponds and rivers, offering unparalleled paddling and boating opportunities, among other outdoor activities. While it would take many lifetimes to explore them all, there are a several that simply cannot be missed. Their rich history and natural beauty makes each one a remarkable place to visit and an even better place to live.
Great Sacandaga Lake
The 29-mile long, 5-mile wide, Great Sacandaga Lake is nestled among pine trees and natural beauty in the northeastern corner of Fulton County. Public boat launches offer opportunities for boating, waterskiing, jet skiing, and fishing, while its 125 miles of shoreline are perfect for swimming in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. The Sacandaga is also used for snowmobiling and ice fishing during the colder months, and is home to lakeside restaurants and antique shops year-round. Formerly known as a the Great Sacandaga Reservoir, the lake is the result of Conklingville Dam, completed in 1930 to stop the Sacandaga River from flooding downstream communities every spring.
Located in Hamilton County, Long Lake is 14 miles long and 1 mile across at its widest point. It offers abundant fishing, hiking, boating and many other activities, including snowmobiling in the winter. First settled in the 1830s, Long Lake is the starting point of the Roosevelt-Marcy Trail. This 40-mile byway is named for the midnight stage coach ride taken by Theodore Roosevelt in 1901. Upon learning of President William McKinley’s assassination, he rode from Long Lake to North Creek, and then boarded a train to Buffalo, NY, where he was sworn into office. Today, the route between Long Lake and North Creek remains a popular tourist attraction for its exceptional views of the Adirondack landscape.
Originally discovered by Native Americans in the 16th century, Tupper Lake is named for Ansel Tupper, a land surveyor who drowned on the lake while fishing. Located in both St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties, the lake is 9 miles long and a popular spot for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. It’s also home to The Wild Center, an interactive indoor/outdoor history museum with live exhibits and animals, including otters, birds, amphibians and fish, as well as an indoor waterfall and river. Every July, Tupper Lake hosts the annual Woodsmen Field Days festival. In honor of its distinct history of pioneers and loggers, lumberjacks and Adirondack sportsmen compete in games of skill.
Raquette Lake is the fourth largest lake in the Adirondacks and features nearly 100 miles of shoreline bordered by pines and mountains. It’s ideal for hiking, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, as well as boating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, jet skiing and tubing. In the winter months, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular. Located in Hamilton County, Raquette Lake developed into a prestigious summer getaway in the 19th century and is still known today for its historic camps. Camp Pine Knot, which was built by William West Durant in 1877, was the first “great camp style” retreat. Like its neighbors, Camp Sagamore and Camp Uncas, it remains in use today.
Upper Saranac Lake
Upper Saranac Lake is the sixth largest lake in the Adirondacks. Together, with Middle and Lower Saranac Lakes, it’s part of the Saranac River, as well as the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which stretches from Old Forge, NY to Fort Kent, ME. At roughly 8 miles long and 2 miles wide, the lake features 20 primitive campsites accessible by boat and available on a first-come basis. Just over half of Upper Saranac Lake’s 37 miles of shoreline is privately owned, and much of it is lined with “camps”, including true Adirondack Great Camps and small weekend cottages. While near the village of Saranac Lake, it’s actually located in the towns of Santa Clara and Harrietstown.