Blue Mountain Lake
One of the loveliest lakes in all the Adirondacks is dark, spring-fed Blue Mountain Lake. Situated 1,800 feet above sea level, the isolated lake is sprinkled with small islands and flanked by towering Blue Mountain, a moody peak that the Iroquois once called “Hill of Storms.” The lake, one of a chain of three, is stocked with bass, whitefish, and trout.
At the southern edge of the lake, along Routes 28 and 30, clusters the village of Blue Mountain Lake. Though home to only about 230 permanent residents, the village is a major cultural center, thanks to the presence of the renowned Adirondack Museum and the much smaller Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts.
A postage-stamp-size public beach (off Route 28, 10 a.m.–p.m., July–Sept.) is situated in the heart of the village, and several crafts galleries are located along Route 30. Among them is Blue Mountain Designs (Rte. 30, 518/352-7361), now over 25 years old.
A popular canoe trip starts at Blue Mountain Lake and heads west through Eagle and Utowana Lakes to the 0.4-mile Bassett Carry. At the end of the portage flows the Marion River, which leads to Raquette Lake, which in turn leads to the Fulton Chain of Lakes. Depending on how far you paddle, the trip can take anywhere from one to five days. A lean-to is situated on the north shore of Utowana Lake about a half mile above the dam.
High on a slope overlooking Blue Mountain Lake presides the Adirondack Museum (Rte. 30, 518/352-7311, www.adkmuseum.org, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily June–Oct., adults $18, seniors $17, children 6–12 $8), a compact complex of 22 buildings that covers virtually every aspect of Adirondack life. By far the most important museum in the region, the complex has been described by the New York Times as “the best of its kind in the world.”
Featured in the museum’s two main buildings are first-rate exhibits on Adirondack history, natural science, culture, and art. Dioramas simulate scenes such as a logging camp, an early Adirondack hotel, and a hermit’s cabin, while nearby are displays on fishing, trapping, and surveying. In one room is a Victorian hearse equipped with wheels for summer and runners for winter; in another, over 800 wooden miniatures carved by one man.
Smaller buildings focus on specific themes. The Boat Building is packed with dozens of sleek wooden vessels; the Transportation Building, with 50 horse-drawn vehicles and a private railroad car. At the Photo Belt, visitors watch historic photographs slide by on a moving belt.
Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts
This inviting center (Rte. 28, 518/352-7715, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri. year-round, 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. Sat. July–Aug., gallery admission free, evening events $4–16) presents both visual and performing arts. Exhibits in the past have covered everything from traditional quilts to contemporary pottery, while concerts have ranged from the Tokyo String Quartet to Aztec Two-Step. The center also holds a gift shop selling regional arts and crafts.
Hiking Blue Mountain
One of the best ways to get a good view of Blue Mountain Lake is to hike up brooding Blue Mountain, elevation 3,759 feet. Though quite steep in parts, the four-mile round-trip hike is of moderate difficulty overall and takes about three hours. At the summit gleams the restored 1917 Blue Mountain Fire Tower, staffed with a ranger/guide on summer weekends. The trailhead and a well-marked hiking trail begin off Route 30, a half mile north of the Adirondack Museum.
Outfitters and Recreation
Boats and canoes can be rented at the friendly, family-run Blue Mountain Lake Boat Livery (Rte. 28, 518/352-7351). Docked outside are two classic wooden launches that take visitors to isolated parts of Blue Mountain Lake and two smaller neighboring lakes. Filled with interesting historical information, the low-key sightseeing tours (adults $15, seniors $13, students and children over three $11; reservations recommended) operate daily June–September.
Blue Mountain Outfitters (Rte. 30, 518/ 352-7306) rents canoes and kayaks, sells outdoor gear, and offers guided canoe trips.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition