Photo of the Week

One of the best things about owning a canoe? Still being able to explore the wilderness when you bust your ankle. A morning paddle took me out to a rocky little island in the middle of a calm pond, where I thankfully was able to hobble around enough to find this little clutch of grass and flowers nestled in the rocks, with my canoe beached in the distance. Adirondack Park, New York. Prints Available

Explore Like a Local – Adventure on Land and Lakes in Inlet, New York

his article along with others written by me can be found at EMS.

The Adirondack town of Inlet, New York resides on the east end of Fourth Lake, which is part of the Fulton Chain of Lakes. This ideal location makes Inlet a perfect base for hiking and paddling adventures, and the town itself punches above its weight and is home to some excellent eateries.  Often overshadowed by neighboring Old Forge, this guide to exploring Inlet like a local will help you discover why this small town should be added to your summer travel bucket list.

Hiking

Inlet is a perfect basecamp for day-hiking the peaks and lakes of this corner of the Adirondacks, with several attractive trails within a 10 minute drive from town. Rocky Mountain Summit, rising above the north shore of Fourth Lake, provides a birds-eye view of the lake and the surrounding wilderness. At only 1.0 miles roundtrip and 433 feet of elevation gain, Rocky Mountain is a perfect sunrise or sunset hike.

For a longer hike, check out nearby Black Bear Mountain, which has several trails that can be connected for a hike ranging in distance from 4 to 7 miles in total. While the lakes of the Fulton Chain aren’t quite as prominent from the summit of Black Bear Mountain as compared to Rocky Mountain Summit, Black Bear has the advantage of being less trafficked and provides a better chance of finding some solitude.

For possibly the best views in the region, head to Bald Mountain, which is home to the Rondaxe Fire Tower. This 2-mile round trip trail is easy by Adirondack standards, but, then again, is there actually such a thing as an “easy” trail in these mountains? Special care should be taken if attempting this trail in wet conditions, as several steep sections of rock could prove tricky to navigate when wet and slippery. After a mile of hiking and a little over 400 feet of elevation gain, you’ll arrive at the fire tower. While the view is nice from the base of the fire tower, the best view is obtained from climbing the tower, where Fourth Lake can be seen in the distance and the hikers at the base of the tower are dwarfed by the seemingly endless Adirondack wilderness.

If you climb all three of the aforementioned peaks, you’ll have just completed the Fulton Chain Trifecta hiking challenge.

Mountain peaks aren’t the only hiking options near Inlet, and treks to beautiful ponds and lakes include the Bub and Sis Lake Trail, Moss Lake (which is also a great paddling spot), and Cascade Lake.

Paddling and Camping

The bevy of rivers, lakes and pond that surround Inlet make this an excellent destination for kayaking and canoeing, and these watery havens are often home to beautiful campgrounds. Fourth Lake is an easily accessible paddling destination, especially when staying in one of the many lake-front lodging options. Even though Fourth Lake is developed, loons are still a common sight, and their hauntingly beautiful calls can often be heard echoing across the lake, especially early and late in the day. Alger Island, a roughly 1 or 5 mile paddle from the boat launch on the west or east end of the lake, respectively, is home to a 15 site boat access only campground that is a great paddling destination whether as a daytrip or an overnight.

As previously mentioned, Moss Lake, located in the Fulton Chain Wild Forest, is a great spot for paddling. A short carry from the parking lot leads to a sandy beach perfect for launching a canoe or kayak, and the lack of development on the lake gives it a true wilderness feel. Loons are a common sight and sound here, and you might even get lucky and see a nesting osprey couple on the island in the middle of the lake. Several backcountry campsites are located along the shore of Moss Lake, making this lake a perfect spot for a weekend camping, hiking and paddling trip.

Seventh and Eighth Lakes, at the eastern end of the Fulton Chain, are a pleasure to paddle, especially the quiet inlets between the two lakes around the corner from the boat launch off of Route 28.  Eighth Lake is home to a beautiful waterfront campground.

Two additional paddling and camping destinations are Browns Tract Pond  and Limekiln Lake. Browns Tract is a 20-minute drive from Inlet and is a quiet (no motor boats allowed) and scenic paddling locale. As an added bonus, rocky cliffs on the island in the lake make for a perfect launchpad for jumping into the cool water of the pond on a hot summer day. Limekiln is a larger (over 200 sites) and generally louder (motorboats are allowed) campground that still offers a slice of serenity and an opportunity to camp along an Adirondack lake. Kayak and canoe rentals are available at Limekiln for campers and day users alike.

Camping not your thing? No worries, as Inlet is home to many lodging options that will put a roof over your head and get you off the dirt.

Eating

For a town that’s barely 300 residents in size, Inlet has some outstanding dining options that are perfect for the famished adventurer. For post-hike pizza, wings, and beer (50 on tap!), it’s tough to beat Screamen’ Eagle, especially when dining on the pet-friendly waterfront deck in the rear of the restaurant on a sunny summer day.

To fuel a busy day of adventuring, head to Blue Line Coffee House and try one of their excellent specialty lattes, such as maple cinnamon.

For lunch, check out The Caboose. As the name suggests, it operates out of an old train caboose, and serves up delicious paninis. A bit further afield, Daiker’s has an expansive waterfront deck that looks out over Fourth Lake and is a 10-minute drive from Inlet. You’ll drive right by it on your way to and from the Bald Mountain trailhead from Inlet, and it thus makes a perfect pitstop for a drink and some grub after your hike.

Last but certainly not least, no summer trip is complete without some ice cream! Northern Lights Creamery is as good as it gets and is within walking distance of most of the restaurants in Inlet, making it a tasty and convenient way to cap off a day of summer fun in the Adirondacks. If you visit on a weekend in July or August, considering grabbing some ice cream before heading over to Arrowhead Park to enjoy some lakeside tunes at the Inlet Concert Series.

Photo of the Week

Maine’s Acadia National Park is stunningly beautiful any time of year, but the first half of June provides some extra flair when the lupines bloom. I used my macro lens to get this intimate shot of a bee visiting one of the flowers, and I was especially intrigued by the ball of pollen that the bee had collected on its leg. Prints Available.