Heading west of Blue Mountain Lake on Route 28, you’ll come to Raquette Lake. It was here that W. W. Durant built Camp Pine Knot, the first Adirondack great camp, in 1877. Durant combined elements of the Adirondack log cabin and the Swiss chalet, a style that continues to predominate in the Adirondacks.
Camp Pine Knot still stands near the lake, along with four other great camps—Camp Echo, Bluff Point, North Point, and Sagamore. Only Sagamore is open to the public, but you can glimpse the other four by touring Raquette Lake by boat.
At the southwestern edge of Raquette Lake lies a hamlet of the same name, equipped with three marinas and little else. At the lake’s southeastern edge stretches the Golden Beach State Park (Rte. 28, 315/354-4230, $10–14 parking), offering a swimming beach, hiking trails, boat rentals, 205-site campground, and good fishing spots.
Great Camp Sagamore
A self-contained rustic village hidden deep in the woods, Sagamore (Sagamore Rd., off Rte. 28, 315/354-5311, www.sagamore.org, tours at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily late June–Aug., adults $12, children $6; call for fall hours) was built by W. W. Durant in 1897 and sold to Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Sr. in 1901. Considered the prototypical great camp, Sagamore centers on a seemingly indestructible main lodge built of huge dark logs, while outbuildings house a dining hall, guest cottages, boathouse, horse barn, icehouse, and bowling alley.
One of Sagamore’s most interesting buildings is the casino playhouse, the walls of which are covered with animal “trophies” killed by generations of Vanderbilts. The camp was once known as the “headquarters of the gaming crowd,” and the Vanderbilts entertained lavishly, inviting up everyone from Gary Cooper and Gene Tierney to Lord Mountbatten and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek.
Now a National Historic Site owned by the Sagamore Institute, Sagamore hosts weekend and week-long learning vacations focusing on such subjects as woodcarving, storytelling, and folk music. You can also book a simple “Outdoor Weekend” with no classes. Summer weekend packages start at $280 per person.
Inside the sprawling Raquette Lake Supply Co. (Main St., 315/354-4301), owned by the same family since the late 1800s, you’ll find everything from a post office and launderette to groceries and fishing supplies.
Outfitters and Recreation
Boats, canoes, and water-sports equipment can be rented at Bird’s Boat Livery (Rte. 28, 315/354-4441). Bird’s also offers a mail boat cruise around the lake at 10:15 a.m. Monday–Saturday July–August.
The Raquette Lake Navigation Co. (off Rte. 28 in the village, 315/354-5532, www.raquettelakenavigation.com) features lunch, dinner, sightseeing, and moonlight cruises aboard the W. W. Durant, June–October.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition