photograph by Johnathan Esper
Three sublime swim spots that are worth the hike
The Adirondack Park is dotted with lakefront beaches that have it all: playgrounds, lifeguards and, often, big crowds. But with a little bit of legwork, the following lakes reward with sandy shores, pristine views and—while we can’t guarantee you’ll have them to yourself—a quieter swimming experience.
Cascade Lake, towns of Webb/Long Lake
It’s only logical that a former girls’ camp would be a good place for swimming. The 1.9-mile walk to the site of Lake Cascade Camp, built in the 1930s, follows an abandoned carriage road to the north shore of the lake. Primitive campsites are tucked in a clearing beneath towering white pines, the perfect spot for a picnic and a swim. A loop trail around the lake leads to impressive Cascade Lake Falls, which has a 35- to 40-foot, nearly vertical drop.
DIRECTIONS: Take Big Moose Road from Eagle Bay. The trailhead parking lot is about a mile ahead on the right.
Fawn Lake, town of Lake Pleasant
This shallow, sandy-bottom lake is in the Jessup River Wild Forest, just west of Sacandaga Lake (not to be confused with the much larger Great Sacandaga Lake to the southeast). The 1.5-mile trail to the north end of the lake is a mostly level walk through hardwoods, but it can be muddy at times.
DIRECTIONS: From Speculator, go 4 miles south on Route 8. Turn right at Fish Mountain Road, then left to stay on it. Turn right onto Fawn Lake Road until you reach the parking area at 0.8 mile.
Tirrell Pond, town of Indian Lake
The longest of the three hikes at 6.6 miles round-trip, the trail to Tirrell Pond skirts the base of Blue Mountain at a slight incline before dropping several hundred feet and joining the Northville-Placid Trail for the last third of a mile. Lean-tos and primitive campsites sit at either end of the lake, and a sandy strand edges the shore.
DIRECTIONS: The trail begins at the northern end of the Blue Mountain trailhead parking lot, on Route 28N, 1.4 miles north of the intersection with Route 30.