62 Days of Summer
Piseco Lake, Lake Pleasant, Brant Lake. And with a little more ambition, even Schroon Lake.
What do they have in common? All are southern Adirondack lakes, and all can be circumnavigated by bicycle in a pleasant summer or fall trip that would only take a few hours.
All four of those lakes have bicycle-friendly back roads that carry relatively little traffic, and offer off-the-beaten-path glimpses of their waters.
In the Hamilton County town of Arietta, Piseco is large enough and pretty enough to host three state campgrounds. Circling the lake is a 14-mile trip, or 16 miles if you decide to start at the Piseco Outlet parking lot on Route 10.
For a trip beginning there, pedal north to state Route 8 and head east on the state highway. Within a mile, the road to Higgins Bay is worth a detour to see lovely views across the lake, and the road returns through to rejoin Route 8.
A left turn onto Piseco Road at 3.5 miles (opposite the former elementary school) takes riders through the thinly settled hamlet of Piseco, then on a woodsy and relatively level route around the north end of the lake, past the three campgrounds and trail up Panther Mountain.
There are occasional glimpses of the lake, and an open area that is good for rest and views just before the second intersection with Route 8. Ride the state highway east again to complete the loop.
The village of Speculator is a gem, with a beach, food options from cappuccino to pizza, and Charley Johns Store, a uniquely Adirondack institution where corn flakes, fresh sandwiches, books and camping supplies coexist under one roof.
A 10-mile trip around Lake Pleasant should start from Speculator. Head west on Route 8, four miles to Lake Pleasant, the Hamilton County seat. Then turn south on South Shore Road, which will bring you around the lake to Speculator again. But be aware that Route 8’s lack of slope is deceptive; South Shore Road has plenty of hills, and I’m not too proud to ’fess up that I got off the bike and pushed a few times.
This Warren County lake is a personal favorite. Riders are seldom out of sight of water, and sometimes the road hugs the shore.
The 13-mile loop begins at the Horicon Town Hall parking lot on Route 8 (yes, Route 8 again).
The road can see significant traffic, but generally has wide bicycle-friendly shoulders. Head east. After about five miles, turn left onto Palisades Road; you’ll cross an inlet, then climb the only challenging hill of the trip. You’ll loop the lake and be returned to Route 8 less than a mile east of Town Hall.
This trip is known as the Marathon Ride because it’s a 26-mile loop, and will take nearly three hours for average riders. If you start in the hamlet of Schroon Lake, ride north on Route 9 to Alder Meadow Road on the right, and take the turn. Shortly after crossing a wide scenic marsh, bear right on East Shore Road.
Fair warning: Some of the hills on the east side of the lake are challenging, though the downhills are a thrill. You’ll emerge at the hamlet of Adirondack, which has a beverage-packed general store. A county road then continues south, hugging the edge of the lake.
Turn right when it ends, pass a state boat launch, and return to Schroon Lake hamlet on relatively flat Route 9.
Whichever route you choose to try, rest assured you will have a memorable experience, see some pretty sights, and more than earn some post-ride refreshments.