Travel 2021 | Lake Placid: the Olympic Winter Village offers many activities in summer


As weird as it sounds, unless you’re careful, it’s easy to miss or mix Lake Placid with Lake Placid.

Sitting high in the Adirondack Mountains, 1,801 feet above sea level, and world famous for twice hosting the Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is a two-lake village that can be confusing.

“A lot of people who visit Lake Placid think they’re looking at Lake Placid when it’s actually Mirror Lake,” said Art Lussi, president of family-owned Lake Placid Vacation Corp.

While the High Peaks village of 2,300 surrounds the picturesque and often placid Mirror Lake, it also encompasses part of the southern end of the much larger Lake Placid. The lakes played an extremely important role in the development of the village of Lake Placid in the 19th century and they remain key components of the region’s tourist economy. But they couldn’t be more different.

Lake Placid, for which the village was named when it was incorporated in 1900, is four miles long and 1.5 miles wide at its widest point, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation of New York (DEC). It has 20.3 miles of shoreline dotted with breathtaking private Adirondack camps, a maximum depth of 151 feet and covers 2,173 acres. Boat trips on the lake by steamboats began in the 19th century and are now available on covered pontoon boats.

Plus: Travel 2021 | Our beautiful lakes – A travel guide for summer 2021

Melvil Dewey, who designed the Dewey Decimal System for libraries, formed the Placid Park Club in 1895 on the shores of Mirror Lake. He is credited with encouraging residents to adopt Lake Placid as the name of the village. Its resort, now the Lake Placid Club, has helped the community achieve national and international stature as a year-round destination. Dewey’s son Godfrey convinced the International Olympic Committee that Lake Placid was the ideal host for the 1932 Winter Olympics.

Although Mirror Lake has a more prominent position, it is Lake Placid’s tiny little sister. DEC statistics say it is a mile long, a quarter mile wide, a maximum depth of 65 feet, 2.4 miles of shoreline, and only covers 128 acres.

Mirror Lake is adjacent to a long stretch of Lake Placid’s bustling Main Street, and many restaurants and tavernas overlook its waters. It has a public beach in the village park at the southern end. Gasoline powered boats are prohibited and the surface is the domain of human and wind powered boats. Originally known as Bennet Pond, after the first settlers it was renamed when a visitor left a poem about Mirror Lake in a hotel register in 1870.

Lussi, whose company properties include the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Lake Placid Marina and the three golf courses that make up the 45 holes of the Lake Placid Club, said during the summer 2020 pandemic, Mirror Lake was particularly popular.

“It was a nautical paradise for paddle surfers, canoeists, people on pedal boats or boats,” he said. “It was a safe place to do it. If you are driving these things on an open lake and speedboats are passing it can be quite confusing.

There are free public access sites at both ends of Mirror Lake. From the north, boats can enter and exit the water after a two-tenth of a mile path from the DEC launch site next to the Lake Placid Marina. There is a 100ft carry over to the water’s edge at the south end.

However, it is a bit more difficult to see and experience Lake Placid. A small section of the lake, Paradox Bay, is visible from Route 86, which is Saranac Avenue in the village. Lake Placid, mostly surrounded by private property and land owned by the state of New York, does not have a public beach. There are only two restaurants on the lake. The Moose Lodge boathouse at Whiteface Club & Resort is seasonal. The Lake Placid Lodge offers dining throughout the year.

The public dock at Lake Placid Marina is an excellent viewing area for Lake and Whiteface Mountain, one of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks and the headquarters of the ski resort managed by the Olympic Regional Development Office ( ORDA). An exhilarating adventure available in Lake Placid is to go by boat to Whiteface Landing at the northeast corner of the lake and climb the mountain.

Boat rentals of all types and sizes are available from vendors on the lake, and boat access is available at the Village Launch Site on Victor Herbert Road and the DEC Launch Site on Mirror Lake Drive.

Fishing is popular on both lakes. In Lake Placid, DEC suggests trolling for lake trout and fly fishing for rainbow trout – which are stocked annually – during the hatch. It also lists brown trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass, bass, yellow perch, brown bullhead, and pumpkin seeds as opportunities for anglers. The DEC report for Mirror Lake: The lake is best known as a rainbow trout fishery, but offers exceptional lake trout that can be found in the depths of summer.

Plus: Travel 2021 | Our beautiful lakes – A travel guide for summer 2021

ORDA’s venues in and around Lake Placid, which were competition venues for the 1980 Olympics, attract thousands of people who visit the massive Adirondack Park each year.

As development began to ramp up in the Lake Placid area in the late 19th century, entrepreneurs began offering boat trips around Lake Placid. The wooden steamboats also supplied the numerous camps which were – and remain – accessible only by sea. The 60-foot Doris, which could carry 154 passengers, operated on Lake Placid from 1898 to 1950. In 1951, she was replaced by another 60-foot wooden boat, the Doris II, which carried passengers around the lake until 2008.

The Lussi family’s Lake Placid Marina offers boat trips during the summer. One-hour guided tours cost $ 20 for adults and $ 15 for children. As COVID-19 protocols evolve, those interested in tours should contact the company. In 2020, the boats were operating at 25% of their capacity, reservations were halted and seats were available on a first come, first served basis. Lussi said that to keep up with demand, the company is running many more tours every day. The natural scenery is impressive, as are the approximately 225 camps, many of which were built over 120 years ago.

“Part of what makes the tours so special and spectacular at the same time is that New York State owns a lot of the coastline,” Lussi said, “so what you see is what you are going to get. for the next 100 years as well, there is simply no more shore available for sale.

“Most of the time what has happened is people are investing in old camps and reinvesting there. Instead of looking like the time of the demolition, we’re really lucky we weren’t so lucky that it happened. People appreciate the historical aspect of the camps and therefore do their best to maintain historical integrity. “

Mirror Lake
ORIGIN OF THE NAME: Changed from Bennet Pond at the suggestion of hotel guest Mary Monel Wait, who left a poem in the hotel register circa 1870.
LOCATION: Essex County, Town of North Elba
CUT: 1 mile long, quarter mile wide, maximum depth, 65 feet
FAME CLAIM: The 1980 Olympic Games medal ceremonies took place on its frozen surface. Swimming and paddling in summer; toboggan, dog sledding and skating in winter.
WHERE TO SWIM: Public beach in the village park at the south end
O LAUNCH: Public transport locations at both ends. No motor boats.
DINING ROOM BY THE LAKE: The Cabin, Mirror Lake Promenade

Lake placid
ORIGIN OF THE NAME: Adirondack Mystery. Historians say this name appears on maps from the 1800s.
LOCATION: Town of North Elba, County of Essex
CUT: 4 miles long; 1.5 miles wide; maximum depth of 151 feet
FAME CLAIM: Home to over 200 Adirondack camps, many of which were first built in the late 19th century.
WHERE TO SWIM: From a boat. There are no public beaches.
O LAUNCH: DEC launch site, Mirror Lake Drive; the village launch site, Victor Herbert Drive; Lake Placid Marina, 24 George and Bliss Lane
DINING ROOM BY THE LAKE: Lake Placid Lodge (seasonal); Moose Lodge Boathouse, Whiteface Club and Resort

Plus: Travel 2021 | Our beautiful lakes – A travel guide for summer 2021

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