The word “Sacandaga” can be found just about everywhere from Broadalbin to Speculator, whether it’s the “Great” one, the “other” one or the river and its branches that flow in between.
They’re all distinct bodies of water, but they’re all connected. Still, it can be confusing at times to hear someone say they’re headed to Sacandaga lake and then wonder why they’re going to Lake Pleasant instead of Hadley.
Here are a few things to know:
* “Sacandaga” is derived from the Native American word Sa-chen-da’-ga, meaning “overflowed lands.” This winds up being more fitting than they knew at the time.
* Sacandaga Lake is just west of Speculator and has a spur that connects to Lake Pleasant. It’s also the source of the Sacandaga River.
* The Sacandaga River is a 64-mile-long river that eventually flows downstream into what’s now the Great Sacandaga Lake, and picks up again below the Conklingville Dam and into the Hudson River.
* The Great Sacandaga Lake isn’t a lake at all. It’s a reservoir created in 1930 when the Conklingville Dam was finished and the river dammed. Its original name was the Sacandaga Reservoir. The reservoir was initially created for flood control along the Hudson River.
* Part of the river flow that was flooded was the Sacandaga Valley.
Each one is popular with locals and tourists alike, each for its own reasons.
Moffit’s Beach State Park and Campground is the go-to place for those who want access to Sacandaga Lake. There’s a full boat launch, a beach, several campsites and a day-use area.
Public access to nearby Lake Pleasant is limited to smaller municipal launches and beaches. Ironically, it’s also a popular day trip for year-round residents around the Great Sacandaga Lake looking for a brief respite from the crush of tourists during the summer months.
The Sacandaga River has plenty of attractions of its own. In Speculator, the river flows through stunning marshes and ecosystems so popular the town built a park so the public can enjoy it.
As it makes its way south, the river drops off to form Catherine Falls and then Auger Falls, which are easy to get to.
Before it was flooded to form the Great Sacandaga Lake, the town of Wells built a dam in the 1920s to form Algonquin Lake as a means to boost tourism.
The Great Sacandaga Lake is, of course, one of the main attractions of the southern Adirondacks. Aside from the multitude of restaurants, bars and other businesses around it, there are a handful of public boat launches and beaches at various parts of the lake so people can enjoy all of it. The reservoir itself can be clogged in spots during the summer with a variety of watercraft, and just about every day between July 4 and Labor Day feels like a giant party out on the water.