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Stay cool with a dip in the lake

July 6, 2018
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - With sweltering heat and high humidity unabashedly announcing that summer is here, the area known for its cold winters is, luckily, also home to a number of beaches and swimming areas where locals and visitors can try to beat the heat.

Although there are a few beaches with lifeguards, many of the local lakes don't have anyone on hand to keep an eye on things. So it's important to play it safe when swimming anywhere.

And although there is no shortage of lakes in the Tri-Lakes with free places to swim, there are also campgrounds and town beaches that may have designated swimming areas, some may even have lifeguards on hand as well.

Article Photos

People of all ages enjoy the sand and cool water of the Lake Clear beach on Monday afternoon.
News photo — Justin A. Levine


Lake Colby

The Lake Colby beach is located on state Route 86 just outside the village of Saranac Lake. On many days, there is a lifeguard on duty, with a swimming area and dock as well. Lake Colby is convenient and safe, with a large off-street parking area. There are bathrooms as well.

The sandy beach looks across the water at the site of the state Department of Environmental Conservation's Camp Colby, a wilderness-based summer camp for teens and pre-teens, as well as the enormous mansion that was part of the original great camp.

While not the most peaceful beach since the road is close by and motorboats are allowed on the lake, most of the boat traffic is slow-moving fishermen and women and it's hard to beat the convenience of a beach so close to town.


Lake Placid Public Beach

Many tourists assume that tiny Mirror Lake, in the village of Lake Placid, is the actual Lake Placid, but Mirror Lake is actually the only one of the two to have a swimming beach and it is home to, you guessed it, the Lake Placid Public Beach. (To simplify, the Lake Placid Public Beach is on Mirror Lake.)

Located just off of Main Street in the village, the Mirror Lake beach is another wildly convenient place to take the family on a hot day. In addition to a nice sandy beach and pier, there are also tennis courts, a playground and changing rooms.

Mirror Lake is also a great place to paddle, and with no motor boats, you're more likely to get in a traffic jam with a swimmer training for Ironman than you are to be swamped by a passing wake. There are also a number of restaurants and convenience stores within walking distance of the beach.


Little Wolf Beach

The village of Tupper Lake also has its own beach, which takes up most of the eastern shoreline of Little Wolf Pond. In addition to lifeguards, Little Wolf also has a swimming platform situated in 11 feet of water that is sure to please the daredevils in the family.

With a rope swing and trampoline on the platform, as well as volleyball and basketball courts, bathrooms and a pavilion, Little Wolf Beach and the Wilmington Town Beach are perhaps the most well-appointed public beaches in the area. There is also a campground, so if you really like it, just spend a weekend or a week right there.


Wilmington Town Beach

With Whiteface Mountain, a wildlife refuge complete with wolves and bald eagles, a chocolatier and a public beach, the tiny hamlet of Wilmington has a surprising amount to offer.

Located on Bowman Lane, off of state Route 86, the Wilmington beach has a covered area to eat lunch under, a playground and hiking trails. The town offers rentals of SUPs, canoes, kayaks and aquabikes, as well as a fishing pier. The pier, and most of the beach area, are designed to universal standards, making it accessible for pretty much anyone.

Also, be sure to stop by the Little Supermarket for huge subs and sandwiches, which are legendary in the area.


Lake Clear

The Lake Clear beach doesn't have any amenities except for a large parking area and an outhouse, but the sandy beach is always a hit due to its gradual deepening. The DEC oversees the Lake Clear beach, and has slated a number of changes, including a car-top boat launch. But those plans depend on the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest unit management plan.

In the meantime, the Lake Clear beach is a great place to meet or make friends, especially for kids. From the parking area, it's a short walk through the woods to the beach, which stretches in both directions for quite a way.

Although fires and glass containers are prohibited, there are often remnants of fires and/or broken glass, so be careful where you set up. Also, dogs are allowed at the beach, which may be a positive or negative, depending on your view of dogs. But all-in-all, the Lake Clear beach is hard to beat in terms of an unmanned facility.


DEC campgrounds

A number of DEC campgrounds in the area have beaches, including Fish Creek, Buck Pond (in Onchiota), Meacham Lake (between Paul Smiths and Malone), Ausable Point (in Peru) and Lake Eaton (in Long Lake).

Not all of the DEC campground beaches have lifeguards, and each charges a day-use fee (usually between $6 and $10 per car), and some have more to offer than others. The nice thing about the campground beaches is that each one will at least have bathrooms at or near the beach, as well as safe parking.

Ausable Point's beach, on Lake Champlain, is arguably one of the nicest beaches in the Adirondack Park. The beach seems to stretch for miles, and has lifeguards and a designated swimming area, as well as a modern beach house with changing and bathrooms, and an outside shower.

The DEC announced recently that it had installed a new playground at Ausable Point, complete with swings, slides and a climbing wall.

Fish Creek campground, between Paul Smiths and Tupper Lake (and only about a 20-minute drive from Saranac Lake) also has a fully appointed beach and day-use area, including a playground and covered pavilions.

Many DEC campgrounds also have boat rentals available, including rowboats, canoes, kayaks and SUPs.

For a full list of campground amenities, go to



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