Travel 2021 | Round Lake: In Saratoga County, a quiet place to connect with nature

Round Lake has grown increasingly popular with paddlers thanks to an easy-to-access car-top boat launch and a new kayak-rental kiosk.
Round Lake has grown increasingly popular with paddlers thanks to an easy-to-access car-top boat launch and a new kayak-rental kiosk.

A massive chunk of ice broke off from a glacier thousands of years ago and eventually formed Round Lake. It has a three-mile circumference, covers 321 acres and has 2.4 miles of shoreline.

Early on, the lake was home to the Mohawk tribe that camped and hunted there. Today, it is a quiet place to kayak, canoe, fish and observe nature.

The town of Malta partnered with Saratoga PLAN to form the 90-acre Round Lake Preserve on the east side of the lake in 2008 to preserve the land’s natural and archaeological resources.

Laura Parsons of Malta frequents the lake with her family.

“Round Lake Preserve is a tranquil little wonderland tucked in between the busy towns of Malta and Mechanicville,” she said. “It’s an inviting place for fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding and birdwatching.”

Once when she was canoeing, Parsons passed a family of beavers as their young were out exploring and gathering new tree shoots for winter. She has also observed a variety of birds there, including several species of hawks and songbirds, a great blue heron and different kinds of waterfowl. Parsons uses the lake as a place to connect with nature.

“One of the most breathtaking experiences I have had at Round Lake was watching a meteor shower illuminate the dark winter sky, all while bundled up in a blanket starting up at the sky,” she said. “Having this local resource available to connect to nature is priceless.”

Some outings on the lake are just for fun. One time when Parsons was at the lake, she enjoyed watching the New York Army National Guard holding its water-bucket training exercises in preparation for fighting wildfires.

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“I’m grateful to have Round Lake so easily accessible. It is a nice, quick stop for lunch or for a coffee break.”

There is a picnic table with beautiful views in the preserve.

While weeds and the lack of beach make the lake an undesirable place to swim, it is a great spot for fishing. In his 1887 book “History of Round Lake,” author James Weise wrote, “Bass and other fish in its waters invite angling.” On its website, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recommends anglers fish the weed beds or near downed trees for a chance to catch largemouth bass and northern pike.

Nick Morocco of Rotterdam fishes for sport often on the lake. People can fish on the water in a kayak or canoe or right from the shore along Route 9, he said. Fishing from the shore can be a little more difficult because of the vegetation, which the fish like, but Morocco said the challenge makes it fun.

“A cool thing about Round Lake is that there are tiger muskies in there,” he said. “They’re a rarity. They’re not found in a lot of waterways.”

There is also fishing available from the pier on the preserve. Other fish in Round Lake include sunnies, bluegills, rock bass, in addition to the aforementioned bass and pike. “Usually, the sizes are pretty good on the bass if you’re lucky enough to get one,” Morocco said.

One might also come across an American eel in the lake. In fact, just inside the door of the Wiggly Worm Bait Shop in Burnt Hills, there’s a photograph hanging on the wall showing a boy holding an eel that he caught in the lake.

Why eels? The Anthony Kill, which is the outlet for Round Lake on the southeast end, is the northernmost place that American eels migrate. Adult eels migrate to the Sargasso Sea, located in the Caribbean east of the Bahamas and north of the West Indies. After they spawn, they die, but their larvae drift and swim with the Gulf Stream, eventually making their way up into northern waters as they mature into juvenile eels. Many opt to travel to freshwater streams and rivers, including Round Lake.

Round Lake
ORIGIN OF NAME: Round Lake is named for its shape. It is a kettle lake formed by a block of ice that detached from a glacier. These blocks tend to become rounded and create “kettle” lakes.
LOCATION: Saratoga County, east of the village of Round Lake
SIZE: 3 miles in diameter; maximum depth 23 feet
CLAIM TO FAME: The Methodist Church began holding camp meetings in the village in 1868. President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julie, made a whirlwind tour of the camp in 1874.
WHERE TO SWIM: Swimming is not recommended because of the large amount of vegetation in the lake.
WHERE TO LAUNCH: There is a Department of Environment Conservation accessible hard surface ramp off Route 9 in the village of Round lake. On the other side of the lake, the Round Lake Preserve has parking for three cars, and there is a short walk over a boardwalk to the car-top boat launch on the Anthony Kill.
LAKESIDE DINING SPOT: There are no establishments on the lake itself, but the Lake Ridge Restaurant in the nearby village is a popular fine dining establishment open for dinner.

Categories: Life and Arts, Travel 2021

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