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Nick Catania | 06.06.2018

1. Agers Falls

Town of Lyonsdale in Lewis County.

Agers Falls. Photo by Eric Adsit.

On a hot summer day, this bedrock beach is packed with sunbathers, swimmers, picnickers, and cliff jumpers. Located along the Moose River, Agers Falls features two distinct zones: the slow moving pool, and the falls itself. The slow moving pool just downstream from the falls is a great place for families to swim because there is very little current and a gradually sloping bank. The falls are popular with cliff jumpers because the 18-foot face drops into a deep pool. The water slides below take some trial and error to find the smoothest rides, but once you do, they can be quite fun! Agers Falls is closed from dusk to dawn. All activities are at your own risk, and no lifeguards are on duty.

2. Whetstone Gulf Swimming

Town of Lowville in Lewis County.

Whetstone Gulf beach. Photo by Eric Adsit.

Whetstone Gulf State Park is home to a man-made swimming hole located near the center of the park. It is a fantastic place to beat the heat, with crisp, cool water and a sandy beach. The Whetstone Creek starts high on Tug Hill and flows through the incredibly narrow Whetstone Gulf on its way to the Black River. This narrow gulf causes the water to be quite cold by the time it reaches the swimming hole.  Here, a small man-made dam backs up the water adjacent to a sandy beach. There is also a bathhouse and playground nearby. This swimming hole is staffed by life guards. It's a great place for families looking to cool off on a warm summer day. Be sure to check out the hiking trails, the picnic areas, or the campground. The Whetstone Gulf Rim Trail is a 5.6-mile trail with incredible views into the gorge that feeds the swimming hole.

3. Francis Lake

Town of Watson in Lewis County.

Paddling on Francis Lake. Photo by Eric Adsit.

This pristine lake is located in the foothills of the Adirondacks. While access is relatively easy, it rarely feels crowded, and a primitive campsite can be found on a point of land hidden away from view on the southeast corner of the lake. The lake is relatively shallow, with a maximum depth of only 18 feet and a mean depth of 5.2 feet. The beaver meadow found in the southeast bay is an especially interesting feature of the lake. The car-top launch site is found in the north corner of the lake, just off the Stillwater Road. The parking area is small, but the walk to the dock is short.

4. Rogers Rock

Town of Hague in Warren County.

Rogers Rock Beach. Photo by John Haywood.

This pleasant campsite is only 6 miles south of Fort Ticonderoga, a French fort pre-dating the American Revolution. It has a large sandy beach and boat launch where guests can enjoy the lakeside scenery from the shore or in the water.  There are 322 campsites and two group camping sites here with many amenities including a picnic areas, fireplaces, pavilion rentals, flush toilets, hot showers, dump stations, mooring buoys, a recycling center, a boat pump-out station, and bathhouse. Wilderness is located just 3.5 miles to the west with a plethora of opportunities to extend the adventure. 

5. Putnam Pond

Town of Ticonderoga in Essex County.

Picnic tabes and grills along Putnam Pond. Photo by John Haywood.

Locally known as "Putts Pond," this campground was named after the famous General Putnam who was a Revolutionary War officer. Swimming is not allowed, but there is a boat launch for small watercraft. There are 72 campsites, of which nine are remote and found on islands across the pond. On shore there are ADA-accessible sites, hot showers, flush toilets, a trailer dumping station, a recycling center, a boat launch site, a picnic area, firewood sales, and canoe/kayak/rowboat rentals. You’ll be delighted by these spacious campsites that are surrounded by the classic conifers of the Adirondack region.

6. Heart Lake

Town of Lake Placid in Essex County.

Relaxing on the dock on Heart Lake. Photo by John Haywood.

This campground is perhaps one of the most popular destinations in the Adirondacks. It is family friendly and very accommodating. Thousands of people visit here each year to experience this serene location nestled in the High Peaks Wilderness. The Adirondack Mountain Club operates three cabins in addition to the Adirondack Loj, which can accommodate up to 38 guests in a variety of rooms. There are a variety of campsites, and Heart Lake is open for swimming, fishing and paddling, and a number of classes and programs available to campers. If you’re looking to separate from the Loj, there is also a wilderness campground with 32 sites, 16 lean-tos and six canvas cabins available year round. This is the starting point for the Van Hovenberg Trail that leads to the Marcy Dam, Indian Falls, and the summit of Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York State.  Some of the other hiking destinations include the MacIntyre Range, the Mount Colden Trap Dike, Avalanche Lake, Marcy Dam, the Flowed Lands, Mount Jo and Rocky Falls.

7. Paradox Lake

Town of Paradox in Essex County

Playing at Paradox Lake. Photo by John Haywood.

This campground has 58 sites and is a pleasant place to fish, paddle and hike. On shore there is a picnic area with many tables, grills and a covered pavilion. It is located in the Dark Bay of Paradox Lake, where there is a boat launch with available rentals. Canoers up for a short portage will be delighted by the trail network to Crane, Oxshoe, Crab, Putnam and Horseshoe Ponds. This campsite is also near the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, where there are over 70 miles of trails, 38 primitive tent sites and 14 lean-tos available in the wilderness.  An interesting fact is that during the peak run-off seasons, the flow of this lake reverses until the water table returns to normal.

8. Rollins Pond

Town of Saranac Lake in Franklin County.

Rollins Pond. Photo by Eric Adsit.

This secluded and quiet campground is accessible through Fish Creek Pond State Park. Rollins Pond is 442-acres and very popular among paddlers and fisherman. Its many bays and inlets are great places to watch birds and explore a classic Adirondack lakeshore. Fisherman will find bass, northern pike, and yellow perch as well as a few other species. The A-loop sites are located at the south end of the pond nearest the entrance to the campground, but many of the best sites are found in the 180 to 220 range. Be sure to drive the length of the campground to pick your favorite site. There are two boat launches between sites A11 and 1. The larger boat launch allows for trailers and boats with motors of 25 horsepower or less and provides access to Rollins Pond. The second is found on the east side behind the assistant caretaker cabin. It is a car-top boat launch for paddlers to access Whey Pond.

9. Fish Creek Pond Campground

Town of Saranac Lake in Franklin County.

A paddler passes a campsite at Fish Creek Pond. Photo by Eric Adsit.

This campground has over 300 sites, most of which are waterfront, and it is just a short drive from the Adirondack High Peaks. Its proximity to these incredible adventure grounds makes it one of the region’s favorite camping locations. The campsites line the shores of Fish Creek Pond and Square Pond, which provide access to Follensby Pond and Upper Saranac Lake via a short portage and a channel, respectively. The sites are mostly level and slightly wooded with a mixture of sand, gravel and dirt surfaces. While none of the sites are specifically designed for RVs and no hookups are available, many sites are expansive enough to host large RVs and trailers. Despite the vast number of sites, it is recommended to make reservations at least a few days in advance, especially on weekends. The campground also features opportunities for fishing, paddling, hiking, biking, swimming, basketball and volleyball.

10. Meacham Lake Beach

Town of Malone in Franklin County.

Meacham Lake swimming area. Photo by Eric Adsit.

Meacham Lake State Park and campground is home to many great adventure opportunities, but the best part is the lake. The sandy beach is a great place to sunbathe or picnic. Kids frolic in the shallows and build sandcastles by the shore. A nearby volleyball court entertains groups of teenagers and adults, and the gradually deepening water is a great place for young children to test their limits. A buoyed line separates the deep end from the shallow end, but even at its deepest the sandy bottom is only about 6 feet below the surface. Swimming is only permitted when a lifeguard is on duty. The beach area rarely feels crowded, and the views of the surrounding mountains are hard to beat. The campground features 224 campsites, boating access, and much more.

11. Thompson's Lake

Town of East Berne in Albany County.

The beach at Thompson's Lake. Photo by John Haywood.

Located within John Boyd Thacher State Park, Thompson’s Lake State Campground hosts 140 wooded campsites nearby a beautiful beach. The campground is open year round and offers a host of recreational activities from swimming and fishing to hiking and boating.The campground boasts a volleyball court, a baseball field, boat rentals, horseshoe pits, a large playing field, swing sets, and a playground. The trail system, made up of a number of different trails totaling over 15.5 miles, links the campground and main area of Thacher Park along the Helderberg Escarpment together. There are also a number of picnic areas with fixed-position grills and picnic tables.

12. Minnewaska State Park

Town of Kerhonkson in Ulster County

Minnewaska State Park Preserve spans 22,275 acres and offers fantastic opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, boating, picnicking, swimming, cross-country skiing, and trail running. Located on the Shawangunk Ridge, this rocky terrain is one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the region, and it is only about a 90-minute drive from New York City.

a. Lake Minnewaska

Lake Minnewaska. Photo by Nick Catania.

Lake Minnewaska is a beautiful and family-friendly place to go swimming in the summer. The beach itself is staffed from 11:15 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. throughout the season, and swimming is only permitted during this time. There are three roped-off sections to identify different water depths. The beach has a smooth gravel bed that extends into the lake. Take note that no coolers, picnicking, or pets are permitted on the beach.

b. Lake Awosting

The flat rock at Awosting Beach. Photo by Nick Catania.

Lake Awosting is a beautiful and remote swimming destination only accessible by the park’s trails and carriageways. It has a unique, flat rock slab beach that gradually descends into the water. The lake is staffed between 11:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. during the summer season, and swimming is not permitted outside of these hours when lifeguards are not on duty. There is a large roped-off swimming area that extends out to a water depth of 10 feet, 1 inch.


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