Lake Saranac for Adirondack Sports and Nature Lovers

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A picture-perfect view of Lake Flower from Saranac Waterfront Lodge
A picture-perfect view of Lake Flower from Saranac Waterfront Lodge. Cathie Arquilla photos.

Exploring Lake Saranac From Saranac Waterfront Lodge

By Cathie Arquilla
Senior Writer

We headed for Moody Pond. It was about a 15-minute ride from our hotel, the Saranac Waterfront Lodge. We peddled through a small section of town and along some dirt paths, one bordering Pine Ridge cemetery with graves dating back to the mid-1800s, including Jacob Moody, a fifer in the war of 1812.

Home to fifers and writers, Moody Pond has a history dating back centuries.
Home to fifers and writers, Moody Pond has a history dating back centuries.

Moody Pond is everything quiet and content, just the way you want to start a getaway to New York’s Adirondack mountains.

The houses along the pond look peaceful and homey. We were riding in the late afternoon stillness. The pond looked like a watercolor painting of trees and sky.

Welcome to Moody Pond

You can imagine generations coming back here year after year. Fifties-style green tin chairs on a landing in the water looked sweet, peaceful, and inviting.

In fact, Moody Pond is so inviting there is a garden bench with a lovely view of the pond with a sign posted next to it saying, “Welcome to Moody Pond, Enjoy the Bench.” That set the tone for the whole weekend.

We rented the bikes through a “bike-sharing” app called DACK Bikes. The Saranac Waterfront Lodge is their first location.

The bikes were easy to ride, comfortable, and cute, especially for towny bikes. White with baskets on the back, brown leather seats, and handlebar covers, they even had a bell!

However, the app wasn’t so easy to use, and we wished for a human to help us take them away.

Robert Louis Stevenson–The Air Done Him Good

We road about a block or two away from the pond and came across the Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Cottage (Baker Cottage), an unexpected surprise.

It wasn’t open yet (open July 1-September 15th). Still, an aging painter repairing the roof and playing 70s rock classics encouraged us to walk around the porch.

Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scotsman from Bournemouth, England, to convalesce in the “alpine air” of the Adirondack mountains to improve his lung health.

He lived in the cottage from October 1887 to April 1888, a relatively short time to produce seven titles, books, and essays. Apparently, he complained bitterly about the, ahem, bitter cold, but he did write, “The climate has done me good.”

Many people in the late 1800s traveled to Saranac Lake seeking a cure for tuberculous. The Historic Saranac Lake museum was once a laboratory, the first of its kind, dedicated to researching tuberculosis.

You can dive into the history of the laboratory or mark your calendar for music events and lectures at the museum.

The Village of Saranac Lake’s Small Town Vibe

We were there in early June; the small town of Lake Saranac was tranquil. No one was on the streets, and few places were open.

The Navigator's Lounge is perfect for doing nothing at all!
The Navigator’s Lounge is perfect for doing nothing at all!

The village has several buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It would be an excellent location for a movie set in a small town in the early 1900s.

Add a few Model Ts and some old-fashioned signage, and start shooting!

The Saranac Waterfront Lodge on Lake Flower Captures The Adirondacks In a Cool Way

After our bike ride, we took some time to explore Saranac Waterfront Lodge.

This was our HQ for outdoor fun and relaxation for the next few days. The interior design of The Saranac Waterfront Lodge is very successful in that it speaks of Adirondack history and the 21st century at the same time.

The rooms are spacious; ours was a double with two queen beds. Rather minimalist with a nod to traditional Adirondack decor, wood-paneled floors, chunky wood accents, leather upholstery, and linear patterns.

Simple-Chic Adirondack Style
Simple-Chic Adirondack Style

It’s an open plan, with no doors on closets and cubbies instead of drawers.
The oversized wood block print mountain drawings above the beds gave a surprising wow factor to the room.

Soak Up Flower Lake From the Governor’s Suite

The Lodge is only two years old, so there are plenty of modern-day amenities, many USB outlets, and simple yet effective lighting. It’s pet friendly except on the second floor, with 93 rooms and three suites.

The Governor’s Suite has two walk-out balconies, a luxurious master bedroom-bathroom, and a separate living area with a kitchenette, dining room, and fireplace.

The tub overlooking Flower Lake is big enough for a party of two with champagne and rose petals.

The view from our room overlooked some fire-table setups and Flower Lake. We wanted to get out there. Sitting on an Adirondack chair lakeside in the Adirondacks? Yes, please!

Chic Comes To Lake Saranac–The Navigator’s Lounge

To get to those kick-back chairs, you must go through the hotel lobby, called the Navigator’s Lounge. This is a great meet and greet, sit and talk, chic place to be. It’s done in greys and browns, stone, leather, and wood finishings.

Massive modern chandeliers hang from its two-story high ceilings, and a grand stone fireplace anchors the room. To one side is a bar you could hang at for hours, thanks to cushioned bar chairs with backs, enough leg room, and warm lighting. We almost didn’t make it to the Adirondack chairs outside.

To Sit in the Adirondacks In An Adirondack Chair

But we did. If you visit the Lodge, take some time to settle into the Adirondack chairs at twilight with a glass of wine. Here, you can ease into the night around one of the fire tables with only Flower Lake and a best friend to hear your secrets.

Bar Food With A Twist At The Boathouse Saranac Lake Pub

Chef Ramiz Jasic strikes a chord between comfort food and haute cuisine!
Chef Ramiz Jasic strikes a chord between comfort food and haute cuisine in the Waterfront Lodge!

Not to take away from the accommodations, but the Boathouse Saranac Lake Pub is reason enough to stay at The Saranac

The regular bar offerings were reimagined; Korean BBQ Pulled Pork Flatbreads, Bourbon Steak Mac & Cheese. Corned Beef Reuben, but with Apple Slaw.

As for your fries– Why not add bacon, caramelized onions, parmesan cheese, and truffle oil? You had a hard day hiking, paddleboarding, kayaking, or napping!

Breakfast at the Boathouse is also yummy. Again, classics with a little twist.

Hosting A Party?

The food is excellent, and the setting is special too. The patio overlooks the lake.

For special occasions–say you’re planning a wedding, guests can float out on the lawn with a cocktail in hand and indulge in Chef Jasic’s small bites. The bridal arch is in place.

The Boathouse and The Saranac Waterfront Lodge can manage parties from 25 to 150 guests.

The Pontiac Bay Ballroom, with large windows overlooking Lake Flower, will keep any nuptial family from fretting over the weather, no tent, no problem.

Lake Saranac is a chain of lakes and ponds, viewed here from the top of Baker Mountain
Lake Saranac is a chain of lakes and ponds, viewed here from the top of Baker Mountain

The Baker Mountain Trailhead Begins At Moody Pond

I live just outside New York City, and it was a 5- plus hour drive to Saranac Lake, so my goal was to leave the car in the parking lot as much as possible.

The Baker Mountain trailhead begins at Moody Pond, a four-minute drive from the Lodge. I could handle that!

Most hikers know about the app All Trails; I highly recommend it, even for a moderate hiker, like myself. All Trails told me Baker Mountain trail is in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area.

It’s a 1.6-mile loop considered “moderately challenging,” It takes about 1 hour and 23 minutes to complete – all true! Although it may have taken us 1 hour and 24 minutes (kidding).

Now that the stats are done, let’s talk about the experience. This was early June, and the trees had leafed out, hugging us in all directions.

There were some lovely views, but we did have to climb some. It was the hike we needed, providing a feeling of accomplishment in getting to the top while still enjoying the way.

Why People Fall In Love With Adirondacks

HK Boat Rentals provide all sorts of water activities from their dock at Saranac Waterfront Lodge
HK Boat Rentals provide all sorts of water activities from their dock at Saranac Waterfront Lodge

Hiking is just one of many activities in the Adirondacks; outdoor sports and nature in all its majesty abound!

That is the reason why people keep coming back. And you can easily imagine Native American nations, like the Mohawks and Senecas, calling it home.

Getting On The Water, One Way Or Another

While visiting Saranac Lake, you should probably get on the lake! The Saranac Waterfront Lodge has a partnership with family-owned HK Boat Rentals, which rents kayaks, fishing boats, and pontoon boats that dock from the Lodge. HK also provides guided kayaking, hiking, and rock climbing experiences.

In another story here on GoNOMAD, I mention the benefits of hiking with a guide. Simply put, it gives you the luxury of relaxing– just being a follower.

Knowing your skill level, time of day, number of people, and goals, HK can coordinate a custom experience for you. But plan ahead; they get busy. The Saranac Waterfront Lodge will pack a lunch through the Boathouse for you to enjoy along the way. Have lunch–will hike, paddle, fish, or climb!

Lake Saranac Is A Chain Of Lakes And Ponds

The Captained Cruises from HK also seem like a great cocktail or coffee hour idea. Lake Saranac is actually a chain of lakes and ponds. A cruise would give you an idea of its shoreline, nooks, and crannies.

We did manage to kayak around Flower Lake courtesy of HK even though the season, which runs from late June through September, was two weeks away. Thank you, HK, for accommodating us.

It was a windy day, like kayaking on a conveyer belt or a game of Mother May I, two steps forward, one step back. The experience did spark our interest in canoeing, especially since we saw canoers glide by us with ease.

Canoe Classic
The Adirondack Canoe Classic–known as the 90-Miler, finishes at Lake Flower

Canoe Goals

Lake Saranac is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a 700-mile trail (or canoe trip) that goes from Old Forge, New York, to Kent, Maine. It is considered the longest inland water trail in the nation. Tim Kelleher of HK explained that a whole canoe culture supports this trail and others; shops, camping areas, and outfitters.

Lake Flower is the finish line for the Adirondack Canoe Classic–known as the 90-Miler, a three-day event that has happened annually since 1983. While the course has changed over the years to accommodate capacity (250 boats and canoers from as far away as New Zealand), much of it still follows the routes used by trappers and guides from the last two centuries.

Families have been participating in this race for years, some rowers, some pit crew, and some cheering section. The race takes place in early September when Autumn is around the corner, and the leaves are starting to get brandy colored and burn orange.

The Saranac Lake Lodge on Flower Lake is a perfect place to welcome anyone across the finish line. Whether they’ve just completed a three-day canoe race, a long hike, a bike ride, or a walk around the village, it makes for a beautiful ending point.