Set in the midst of the largest wilderness area in the eastern United States, where New York's beautiful lake country meets its highest mountains, the Adirondack village of Saranac Lake offers unparalleled outdoor recreation, sporting opportunities, and cultural activities for people of all abilities and interests.
Summer in Saranac Lake means gliding silently along a sun-dappled river in a canoe or hiking your way through a towering pine forest. It means standing atop one of the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondack Park or one of hundreds of smaller mountains, reveling in vistas that have inspired visitors for more than a century. It means breaking the glassy lake surface with a cast for trophy lake trout as the morning mist rises from the water. It's walking, biking, golfing, swimming, camping, or simply relaxing in one of the most serene and unspoiled settings in the country. Any outdoor activity on a Saranac Lake summer day is a uniquely enjoyable and memorable experience.
For centuries, the region's rivers and lakes carried travelers and trade between Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence and Mohawk rivers. Today these same waters are a recreational paddler's paradise.
The Adirondack Canoe Classic, also known as the 90-miler, is a three-day, 90-mile canoe race from Old Forge to Saranac Lake. The race has drawn as many as 500 competitors from California to Florida, New Zealand and Canada paddling 250 canoes, kayaks and guideboats. This year’s event will be held Sept. 6-8.
(Enterprise file photo — Chris Knight)
Within a 20-mile radius of the village, canoe and kayak enthusiasts can enjoy literally dozens of small lakes and pristine ponds, many of them in the St. Regis Canoe Area, the largest wilderness canoe area in the Northeast. The nearby Saranac, St. Regis, Ausable, and Raquette Rivers provide both relaxing passages through majestic forests and invigorating stretches of challenging whitewater. In addition to the 33-mile long Saranac Chain of Lakes (consisting of Upper, Middle, and Lower Saranac Lakes), Lake Flower, Oseetah Lake, Tupper Lake, and Lake Placid offer boaters exhilarating experiences - either in their own boats or on guided tours - amid spectacular scenery. For the more adventurous, there is the newly dedicated Northern Forest Canoe Trail that enables paddlers to go from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine by ways of Quebec, Vermont and New Hampshire.
These same waters present a veritable wish list for almost any angler; fly fishermen can ply their craft in search of brown and rainbow trout along specially stocked trophy stretches of the Saranac and Au Sable Rivers. Those seeking lake trout, bass, pike, or salmon will find both challenge and satisfaction on almost any water in the area, some of which are stocked by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
South and east of Saranac Lake, there rises an arc of mountains, ranging from dozens of small but scenic summits to the mountains known as the High Peaks, the greatest concentration of mountains over 4,000 feet in elevation in the Northeast.
Opportunities for day hikes, extended backcountry backpacking trips, rock climbing, mountain biking, or horseback trail rides are at hand. Equipment for almost any activity can be purchased or rented from local outfitters or sporting goods stores, while guided wilderness excursions can be arranged through a number of licensed and experienced Adirondack guides.
Saranac Lake is home to one of the most prestigious team-sport events in the country - the Can Am Rugby Tournament - which will return on Aug. 2-4, 2013. The largest event of its kind in North America, the Can Am Tournament draws more than 100 teams from throughout the United States and Canada, as well as elite teams from Europe, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, creating an ideal opportunity for families to enjoy the sport of rugby played at its highest caliber. The tournament hosts divisions for men and women, as well as "old boy" competition for those over 35 and 40 years of age.
Campgrounds - for either tent campers or recreational vehicles - are plentiful in the Saranac Lake area. Some, like the Saranac Lake Islands, offer quiet, rustic, and secluded lakeside camping within a short boat ride from the village, while others provide full hookups under the soothing sway of tall pine trees.
Saranac Lake also offers accommodations to suit any taste and budget. These include quaint bed and breakfasts, lakeside cottages and lodges cabins set deep in the woods, restored Adirondack Great Camps, full service hotels, and a variety of motels along the shore of Lake Flower. In addition to lodging, the village offers many fine restaurants.
Travelers can take in a play at Pendragon Theatre, the only year-round professional theatre in the Adirondacks, or take a ride on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, departing from the historic Union Depot. The Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage, the Six Nations Indian Museum and the Charles Dickert Memorial Wildlife Museum all offer opportunities for visitors to experience Saranac Lake's impressive heritage.
Saranac Lake was ranked the Number 1 Best Small Town in New York State and the 11th best in the United States in the book, "The 100 Best Small Towns in America," by Norman Crampton. Men's Journal Magazine has named us one of "America's 25 Coolest Mountain Towns" and one of the "50 Best Places to Live."
In 2006, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated Saranac Lake as one of its "Dozen Distinctive Destinations."
In 2007, the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce received Four-Star Accreditation from the U.S. Chamber - another feather in the cap of one of the country's 1998 All-America Cities.
The Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce is available for visitor information requests Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.