10. Long Lake
After traversing through a mixed forest consisting of pine, maple, beech, and birch trees, the drive toward the town of Long Lake skims across miles of wetlands — vast stretches that close in on both sides of the road. In Long Lake itself, nature lovers can glimpse — and hear — an amazing array of bird life. The cantankerous chatter of ducks plays a counterpoint among the varied tunes of many species of songbirds. In the tamarack-fringed marshes, long-legged great blue herons stand out amid the carpeting of sedges, reeds, and wildflowers.
11. Blue Mountain Lake
Nestled at the base of Blue Mountain, Blue Mountain Lake is regarded by some as one of the most beautiful of the 2,800 lakes in the Adirondack Park. Indeed, the setting has long been an inspiration to writers, artists, and musicians, who make summertime pilgrimages to come to the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts.
Some highly regarded artwork can be seen at the acclaimed Adirondack Museum, which overlooks the lake and boasts an exhaustive collection of exhibits. Not surprisingly, the emphasis here is on Adirondack life, and more than 20 buildings — each dedicated to a particular subject — are spread across 30 acres. Visitors can spend days delighting in everything from boats, furniture, handicrafts, and railroad cars to paintings by such American masters as Frederic Remington, Winslow Homer, and Thomas Cole.
12. Raquette Lake
Raquette Lake — a name that applies to both the lake and to this quaint and quiet village that stands beside it — consists of little more than a couple of dwellings, churches, and a general store. Golden Beach, situated four miles east of the hamlet, was named for the color of its soft sand. Families with small children favor swimming here since the water remains shallow for dozens of yards offshore.
In the late 1800s the glory of the Adirondacks began to lure some of America’s wealthiest families. Buying large parcels of land, they built spacious summer homes — getaways that, perhaps a bit tongue in cheek, they referred to as ”camps.” Sagamore Road, an unpaved drive, leads to one of the grandest of these lodges, known today as Great Camp Sagamore.
Built by architect William West Durant in 1897, then sold to Alfred Vanderbilt, Sagamore contains numerous buildings set among the pine woods. But it is the main house, a chalet-style mansion constructed of logs, that commands center stage. Every detail of the place was supervised by Durant, who even ordered the huge fireplace to be rebuilt: one or two stones, it seems, were not set exactly as they were supposed to be. Traditional Adirondack chairs and lamps, a bowling alley, and wall coverings made of bark are among the many touches that make the mansion so endearing.
Recently the camp has gained a new lease on life as the Sagamore Institute, a center that conducts craft workshops and outdoor programs. Summer visitors can watch a slide show on the great camp era and take a two-hour tour.
13. Fulton Chain Lakes
Hoping to map a water route all the way to Canada, Robert Fulton, best known as the inventor of the steamboat, surveyed these lakes in about 1811. No such waterway could be found, but the lakes are part of a 125-mile canoe route — some short portages are required at impassible spots — between Saranac Lake and Old Forge.
The eight Fulton Chain Lakes are known simply by number — perhaps explorers just ran out of other names. On the eastern end of Fourth Lake sits the village of Inlet, a rustic place where the cooling shade of sky-high pine trees is never far away. You can rent a boat to explore the lake or continue on Rte. 28 to Old Forge, a forest-girt town that was first settled by one Charles Herreshoff.
Herreshoff dreamed of making a fortune by mining iron ore. Those who came with him, however, found the work as brutal as the winter weather; many packed up and departed. Adding to his disappointment, the mines frequently flooded, and Herreshoff ended as a broken man. Despite its bleak beginnings, Old Forge today is a haven where visitors can ski, hike, and perhaps glimpse a black bear wandering its way down Main Street.