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Closer look at Schroon Lake

September 12, 2016 - Morgan Ryan
Schroon Lake has always been one of those places in the Adirondacks that I didn’t know much about. I have probably driven by there on the Northway a million times, but never really had much of a reason to stop in. More of a place to drive through than drive to. It was a big breakthrough for me when I finally learned how to pronounce the word Schroon (it’s SKroon, not SHroon).

The one thing I did know about Schroon Lake was that they had what looked like a pretty awesome marathon. Back when I was living in Oregon, I used to dream of one day running in the race. It seemed so cool. One 26.2-mile loop around a lake in the Adirondacks. In September. With colorful leaves everywhere. What could be better than that?

Well I never did get around to doing the marathon, but my desire to spend time in the Adirondacks eventually led me to move here. Who knew Schroon Lake would become just another name on a sign for me?

On Sunday, my wife and I woke up in North Creek (of all places) at the Goose Pond Inn. Beverly and Jim Englert were very nice people, and the accomodations and breakfast were perfect for the occasion.

As the high winds started to dissipate some of the dark clouds that were left over from the previous night’s heavy rainstorm, we decided to head toward Schroon Lake for a place to start our bike ride. We made our way to the southern end of the lake where there was a public parking lot at the Horicon state boat launch.

At the bed and breakfast, we read about a few bike routes in a Warren County brochure . We were pretty indecisive, but figured the 33-mile ride that included seeing three different lakes — Schroon Lake, Brant Lake and Loon Lake — seemed interesting.

We took off from the boat launch and started to pedal south on East Schroon River Road. The wind was cold and blowing pretty steadily so we almost instantly turned around to go back to retrieve Michelle’s long-sleeve shirt that I had recommended she wouldn’t need.

“Don’t worry, it’ll warm up once we get going.”

“I don’t think so.”

Somewhere in all the confusion and delay at the start, we decided that we should just ride around Schroon Lake. I knew the marathon went around the whole lake so it would be about 26.2 miles. Perfect.

We realized that the Warren County map didn’t suggest the loop around Schroon Lake most likely because the majority of the lake was in Essex County.

The decision paid off immediately as the road followed closely along the eastern shoreline. Across the lake we could see many High Peaks towering not far away. Must have been the Dix Range. Awesome.

We had a long way to go, but we were happy (and warm).

After about 4.5 miles on East Shore Drive, we came to the Adirondack General Store at the corner of Johnson Road and Red Wing Road.

We didn’t really have a clear map of what we wanted to do, so we asked the guy at the store for direction. He confirmed that, yes there is a road all the way around the lake. He added that if we continued to head in the same direction we were going, we would hit the hilliest part of the loop.

OK, no problem.

The climb started almost immediately, but it was nice being surrounded by trees and away from some of the development along the lake. Even better, there were hardly any cars.

After about five miles of ups and downs we were delighted to have crossed over into the Pharoaoh Lake Wilderness Area. This was one of the two trails we passed along the road.

Definitely have to come back to explore some of these trails some day.

The Wilderness Area ended and we started to see small camps along the route. The road then spilled out into an open wetland area at Alder Meadow Road. We passed a series of homes before the intersection with state Route 9 at about the 15-mile mark of our trip.

About a mile later we were in the hamlet of Schroon Lake. It was time to eat.

We locked the bikes to a lamp post in front of a vacant store across the street from Stewart’s ...

... and went into Flanagan’s for a burger and the end of the early NFL games. The Jets were in the process of losing to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bellies full of burgers, we pedaled south along Route 9 for nine or so more miles before turning left onto Glendale Road and the state boat launch where our car was waiting. I’m amazed at how this route is almost exactly 26.2 miles, tailor made to have a marathon here.

From a running perspective, I thought much of the time how incredibly difficult a marathon it must be. Hills almost the whole way, and steep ones particularly on the east side of the lake. Much easier to do as a leisurely bike ride. For now anyway.


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