Earlier this week I was driving along Route 80, heading toward Cooperstown. Big Chuck was on the radio talking about the most beautiful lakes in New York state. He mentioned several, like Chautauqua Lake out in the western part of the state. Of course Otsego Lake and the Finger Lakes were mentioned. It did not surprise me that Lake George was second on the list, but number one–the most beautiful lake in New York–was Avalanche Lake in the Adirondacks. I chuckled when he said he had no idea where it was.
That didn’t surprise me. If you aren’t a hiker and haven’t spent any time in the Adirondack High Peaks, you may never have experienced its tranquil beauty.
Avalanche Lake is a small lake about nine acres in size. It lies between the sheer rock cliffs of Mount Colden and Avalanche Mountain, and was originally formed by a landslide on August 20, 1869. Another avalanche in 1942 raised the water level another 10 feet.
Because of the steep rock walls that come right down to the water, passage up or down that valley was nearly impossible, so a wooden catwalk was constructed along the cliff. There are also numerous wooden ladders to get you up and down other steep, rocky sections.
Just the walk along that trail is spectacular, but not everyone will get there to enjoy it. From the trail head at Heart Lake a few miles south of Lake Placid, it’s a five- or six-mile uphill hike to the lake. Trust me, it’s well worth the effort, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
There are many other lakes in that region that could rival Avalanche Lake for it’s No. 1 ranking. Lower Ausable Lake when viewed from Indian Head and the Fish Hawk Cliffs is magnificent. That, too, is at least five miles from the Saint Hubert’s Trail Head.
What makes these lakes so much better than others on the list of best lakes is the absence of development. There are no camps dotting the shores; they are truly in the wilderness.
Another of my favorites is Elk Lake to the south of the High Peaks. It is on private land, but grants access to the public to hike in the Dix Range or to get to Mt. Marcy up through Panther Gorge.
Let’s face it: New York state has some of the most beautiful places in the entire country. There are hundreds of lakes, miles of raging rivers and smaller streams and beautiful mountains for those more adventurous people. Adirondack Park is bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountain national parks combined.
Here in this area we have the Catskill Mountains. They also have a unique beauty and preserved wilderness for everyone to enjoy.
So, Big Chuck… if you ever want to go along, I’d be glad to take you on the adventure of your life. Avalanche Lake, Lake Colden and many others await. But remember, these wilderness gems aren’t for the faint of heart.