Saturday, July 24, 2010

Another Day in Paradise

As I stood gazing out at Elk Lake in New York's Adirondacks, a guest at the Lodge stepped up next to me and said, “Another day in paradise.”  That about sums it up.

Elk Lake is a precious place for many reasons.  For one, the Lake is ringed by High Peaks, so the view, either dockside or from a canoe, is incomparable.  For another, since there is no motorboat traffic, it's a nesting place for loons.  As, so far as I know, cell phones get no reception and internet access is limited to the Lodge office, time slows down in a way that can’t be duplicated in town.

Elk Lake-Clear Pond Forest Preserve, in that admixture of public and private that is the Adirondacks, is a 12,000 acre private preserve in the midst of public land.  A conservation easement to New York State “ensures that nothing will ever spoil the view of Dix, Macomb, Nippletop, and the Colvin range.”  There are forty miles of private trails in the Preserve, some of which link to state-maintained trails in the High Peaks.

Elk Lake Lodge, which serves the Preserve, can accommodate approximately forty guests at a time.  We were lucky to be among them earlier this month.  This was our second visit, and, because there’d been a cancellation, we were able to snag a cabin with front-row seats for views of Elk Lake and the calling of the loons.

The Lodge is an old-time Adirondack camp.  Guests are summoned to breakfast at 7AM by the tolling of a large bell.  Breakfast is hearty and sumptuous, cooked and served by the friendly, efficient staff.  Brown-sack trail lunches grace each breakfast table, made up according to guests’ selections made the night before.  7AM is early for some of us, but it’s worth it, for you can be out on a trail or, as we most often chose, in a canoe spotting birds or just admiring gorgeous reflections in the water, before the sun gets too high.

We tended to spend afternoons on our front porch contemplating the lake and reading in a desultory way.  For a stretch mid-afternoon, we’d often take a walk down a nearby trail, then head back to freshen up in time for a gin and tonic before the 6PM dinner bell.  (Hard liquor is BYOB, but a small, though decent, selection of wines is available at the Lodge.)  Dinners are always good (lemon-pepper trout and barbecued ribs were favorites of ours this time out)—and some dishes, like apple and celery gazpacho garnished with walnuts, are positively inspired.

Some guests come for a night or a weekend; others reserve a week at the same cabin year after year.  There’s plenty of room to be apart and come together, as you wish.  Guests gather to swap notes on the Lodge’s front porch or in the Adirondack chairs at lakefront:  where the fish are biting, the rock where a black duck built its nest, where the little tribe of mergansers was last spotted, which trails were soggy and which dry, and what the view was like at trail’s end.  Some are 46’ers (those who’ve climbed all the major Adirondacks peaks), some are avid fishermen and women, and others simply enjoy the out-of-doors.

The accommodations range from simple Lodge rooms to old-time rustic and more modern cabins.  Lodge rooms are more readily available, but, unless you’re lucky enough to snag a cancellation, booking a cabin, at least during the summer months, must be done a year in advance, sometimes more.

Every day is different at Elk Lake:  the weather passes through and leaves its mark.  The constants each day are the morning breakfast and evening dinner bells, the spectacular beauty of the vistas, and the serenading of the loons.

For details about Elk Lake Lodge accommodations and rates, click here.

For a related post, about photographing birds in the Adirondacks, click here.


  1. I really enjoyed your post and the photographs are stunning. My kind of peaceful place. Thank you for sharing your lovely peaceful stay. Been enjoying your different blog headers too.
    I hope you found my answer to your message, I was really pleased to hear you managed to see the wrack line exhibition, and lucky enough to take some home. Which did you choose?
    Thank you for your many comments, hope to be posting more regular.

  2. The photographs are really wonderful! Another avocation of yours that you could do professionally, RA!

    Looking forward to the next installment~

  3. What a lovely and peaceful place for a holiday!

    Your loon photograph is simply amazing and with the video of the loons calling takes me back to happy times on Lake of the Woods, Ontario.

    Thanks for sharing another great outdoor adventure.

  4. The addition of the short videos is a treat that lends to the experience of living vicariously through your blog. I hope someday to visit the Adirondacks and see the autumn foliage.

  5. Sounds like the place for me! Well, I already live somewhere almost like that & am super grateful. Glad you had an inspiring time. Looking forward to the bird post, naturally.

  6. Thank you so much for the wonderful article on Elk Lake. It was a great combination of text, video and pictures. I hope you have a great rest of the summer and we look forward to your next visit.

  7. Von and Mike, so nice of you to stop by, and do come again. Elk Lake is indeed a beautiful place!

    Milly, as I'm sure you've seen by now, I've responded re wrack line on your blog--after enjoying another of your beautiful paintings of the natural world.

    MB, stay tuned . . . the bird post will be coming later tonight.

    Cybersr, JM, WOS: It's always great to hear from you. So glad you enjoyed the post--and, cybersr, the loon clip was especially for you!

  8. Mike Sheridan said it all - a wonderful combination of text, video and photographs! I particularly love the video, I could feel myself relax as it played out - too quickly!


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