Lake George has been ranked among the best lakes in the country – and for good reason! It’s 109 miles of scenic shore length draws tens of thousands of vacationers and outdoor enthusiasts from all over to enjoy boating, lakeside dining, strolling through the village, hiking, and visiting nearby landmarks. Lake George has the reputation of being the top destination lake in New York, but depending on which style of lake-life fits you best, it’s important to look beyond Lake George to other hidden gems in the Southern Adirondack region. Here’s 8 of the best:
photo via LakeGeorge.com
Lake George ranks among New York’s most iconic lakes and garners attention across the country for its pristine waters, beautiful setting, rich history, and endless opportunities for fun in the sun. Its banks stretch an impressive 32 miles north to south and come summer, Lake George’s population swells from about 1,000 to the neighborhood of 50,000 people enjoying every bit of it. With easy access off I-87 and booming summer months, outdoor and family activities are endless! Enjoy boating on the lake, hiking one of the surrounding peaks, filling up at one of many local restaurants, cruising the Lake George outlets, or laughing with family at the nearby Great Escape theme park.
While Lake George may offer the more in terms of family activities, restaurant options, and quick access off the highway, people in search of an Adirondack getaway can find similar experiences elsewhere in the region – often at a lower price tag. Consider the rest of the Southern Adirondacks lakes on this list when buying a home or planning your next vacation.
Take a look at these breathtaking lakefront homes in the Lake George area.
Great Sacandaga Lake
The Great Sacandaga Lake (or GSL to the locals!) boasts the self-proclaimed tagline – “Adirondack Mountains’ Best Kept Secret” – and we’re going to agree with them on that! The Great Sacandaga Lake is only 15 miles from Lake George, 22 miles from Saratoga Springs, 55 miles from Albany, and 180 miles from New York City, with easy access via main roads and close proximity to the Adirondack State Park. The lake is the result of the damming of the Sacandaga River in the 1920s, which suffered consistent flooding each spring causing damage to the homes and businesses that had been booming along its banks. The Great Sacandaga Lake has a summer feel comparable to Lake George with jet skiers, tubers, and boaters alike buzzing around enjoying the clean, sandy 66-mile shore length. There’s an abundance of historical markers in the area, along with boutique shops and lakefront dining.
Being so close to Lake George, Saratoga Lake, and Lake Champlain, it’s often overshadowed, and without the same famed notoriety as the others, the lake is able to keep a quaint, pristine vibe. In honor of Labor Day, lakefront property owners light contained fires along the shoreline creating the famous ‘Ring of Fire’. It’s a super cool event and is a true culmination of the lake’s community feel.
Find your lakeside escape near the GSL.
Just a few miles from downtown Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Lake is about 4.5 miles long and just shy of 2 miles across at its widest point. Pretty small in comparison to Lake George to the north and the Great Sacandaga Lake to the west, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. Every year, high school and college rowing programs race down the lake’s Fish Creek in one of the largest regattas in the country, and easy access to boat launches and marinas keeps the lake alive with fisherman and cruising pontoon boats. Relax at Brown’s Beach, enjoy nearby golf, rent kayaks or standup paddleboards from the Kayak Shack, or have lunch at one of the lakefront restaurants around the lake.
What’s great about Saratoga Lake is its proximity to major highways, a bustling downtown, a historic racetrack, nearby mountains, and major towns in Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls, Lake George, Clifton Park, and Albany.
Look through the latest listings on Saratoga Lake.
Technically formed from the connection of West Caroga Lake and East Caroga Lake, Caroga Lake is a small town in the foothills of the Adirondacks with a population of about 1,000 people. If you’re looking for a quiet Adirondack escape where calm canoe strokes and fall foliage sound better than ripping engines and parasailers, Caroga Lake is perfect for you. Royal Mountain Ski Area is right down the road, and a family-focused winter carnival keeps the area active year round.
Caroga Lake is right near the border of the Adirondack State Park which is great for people looking to be close enough for a quick drive into the main town like Gloversville, or head north into the woods to fish, hunt, or explore the surrounding peaks.
Find some beautiful shore space on Caroga Lake.
Peck Lake, near Gloversville, is the largest lake in Fulton County at approximately 5 miles long and 2 miles wide. It’s clean, clear water is home to some of the finest fishing in the Southern Adirondacks with brown and rainbow trout, northern pike, bass, and panfish. Waterskiing and sailing are popular here, giving the lake a similar feel to Saratoga Lake or Lake George. The lake even has a dedicated area marked off for water skiing specifically. This is noteworthy because most lakes in the area don’t even allow waterskiing. Still, motors on the lake are limited to 40 horsepower, and boats must meet specific requirements to launch through the designated launch at a private marina.
The residents keep the community active with events like the annual Peck Lake Triathlon where participants swim, bike, and run around the lake. It only takes an hour to drive to Peck Lake from Albany so residents see a boost in action on the weekends, but this lake has created a great balance of summer fun and serene relaxation.
You won’t believe the price on some of these Peck Lake homes.
With warm-weather homes accounting for nearly three-quarters of the homes in the area, Lake Pleasant really shines in the summer. The town of Speculator is in a prime area for hikers, fisherman, and boaters, with Lake Pleasant, Sacandaga Lake, and Fawn Lake nearly stacked on top of each other. The 360-degree backdrop will give you views of the Silver Lake Wilderness, Siamese Ponds Wilderness, Ferris Lake Wild Forest, and West Canada Wilderness areas, with endless peaks and blue lines to explore and sunsets you’ll remember forever.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day there’s always something to do either lakeside or in town. Countless restaurants, boutiques, parades, musicals, fireworks, and art shows keep calendars full and a quiet escape in any direction will put you on state preserve land, where you can enjoy camping, hiking, mountain biking, and snowmobiling in the winter.
Find a little slice of heaven on Lake Pleasant.
About 10 miles west of Speculator lies the beautiful Piseco Lake. Here you’ll find a slow paced lifestyle and a community looking to connect with nature and share a love for the outdoors. As one of the deeper lakes on this list with an average depth of 58 feet, fisherman can enjoy excellent fishing throughout the warmer months, and come winter, a mini village appears on the lake as ice fisherman keep warm in their shanties while catching lake trout and landlocked salmon through the ice. Hiking enthusiasts can test their endurance on one of the Adirondacks most famous trails: the Northville-Placid Trail is a 133 mile lightly maintained foot trail through the Adirondack State Park, part of which runs right near Piseco Lake.
With peaks from the West Canada Lake Wilderness overlooking Piseco Lake from the northwest, spectacular backdrops and peak foliage is a sight to behold. This is your lake of choice if you’re looking to unplug and connect with family and the outdoors.
View our current listings on Piseco Lake.
Need an intimate getaway or peace and quiet away from typical lake-life noise? Go to Friends Lake. It’s one of very few lakes in the Adirondack region that has no public access, and there are strict regulations on watercrafts including motor limitations and no jet skis. Friends Lake gives you the natural beauty and seclusion of the Central Adirondacks only 30 minutes from Lake George. There are about 6 miles of shore length, most of which is still in its natural state. The fine dining at local restaurants and inns consistently ranks among New York’s best.
Just because it’s quiet doesn’t mean it’s boring! Mix it up and take a guided horse ride through wilderness and picturesque meadows, canoe around the lake, take a quick ride over to the popular Gore Mountain Ski Resort, go white water rafting on the Upper Hudson River, or kick back with a book and some wine as the sun sets over your lakeside fire pit.
Find your perfect quiet getaway on Friend’s Lake.
Hopefully, now you’ll consider this list when thinking about the best lakes in the Southern Adirondacks. Lake George is amazing – and we recommend that you visit! But the Adirondacks have so much to offer with each lake and town crafting its own character and culture throughout the years. Keep in mind most locations in the Southern Adirondack region are within a fairly quick driving distance of each other, so planning day trips to experience new things is easy.
Fall is the perfect time to find the lakefront home of your dreams. You can find some of the best deals of the year as current homeowners look to sell with the colder months approaching.
Doesn’t hurt to look, right? Discover breathtaking homes just a short drive away.