Story and Photos by Mike Lynch
The village of Lake Placid will be forever linked with winter sports after hosting the Olympics in 1932 and 1980, but the small community is bustling year round. One of the biggest reasons for the constant influx of visitors is the variety of outdoor activities available, including a plethora of paddling options.
Visitors to Lake Placid can't help but notice Mirror Lake that serves as a backdrop to downtown, but the seasoned traveller knows the best place to get on the water in the area is the large lake that shares the namesake of the Olympic Village.
Lake Placid offers a little bit of everything for paddlers. On one hand, there are privately owned shorelines that are home to Great Camps, which are rustic family-owned compounds that date back to the 19th century. The Great Camps make great viewing for anyone interested in architecture or history.
On the other hand, the 4-mile-long water body has breathtaking scenery, especially in the remote northeastern end. In this quiet part of the lake much of the land is state-owned public land, and the majestic Whiteface Mountain rises from the shoreline.
"The mountains kind of loom over the lake," said Joe Moore, who owns Placid Boatworks, a company that makes lightweight canoes. "It's pretty unique in that way."
Adirondackers are known to take trips that incorporate a number of activities. Many paddlers will not only explore the area by boat, but will also take some time off the water to hike the 4,865-foot-high Whiteface Mountain, the fifth highest in the New York state. The summit offers unmatched aerial views of the lake. Fishing is also pretty fantastic on Lake Placid, and it's not uncommon to find paddlers moving along with a rod hanging over the gunnels. Local guides will tell you that lake trout weighing more than 20 pounds linger below the surface.
For those who want to enjoy the waters for more than a day, you can spend the night in one of the two first-come, first-serve lean-tos on the northeast end of Moose Island, one of two large islands with lots of public land. There's also a primitive campsite near Whiteface Landing, near the bottom of the trail up Whiteface Mountain. Spending the night will allow you to take in the post-dawn awakening when the songbirds come alive, ospreys can be seen diving for fish, and trout can be seen sipping flies off the water's surface.
"Early in the morning it's great," Moore said. "You get out there and the mist is lifting and you see loons. You see all kinds of wildlife."
If You Go, check out these events:
Adirondak SUP Festival
June 19, 20, 21 Saranac Lake, NY
Black River Challenge
June 28 Glenfield, NY
Saranac Flat-water Challenge
July 18 Saranac, NY
For more information go to www.paddlefinder.com
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