Sacandaga Lake & Lake Pleasant, New York, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - New York - Adirondacks -

Sacandaga Lake and Lake Pleasant are the crown jewels of Hamilton County, anchor community of central Adirondack Park. The community of Lake Pleasant occupies the strip of land between the two lakes, and becomes ‘outdoor central’ each summer when park visitors arrive. Located about 60 miles from Utica and 70 miles from Schenectady, Lake Pleasant and its two large lakes are the destinations favored as base for exploring the natural wonders of Adirondack Park, the largest park in America’s lower 48 states. Although small compared to the six million protected acres comprising Adirondack Park, Sacandaga Lake and Lake Pleasant together provide over 6,000 acres of water surface for water sports, nature observation and lakefront living with the convenience of city amenities nearby.

Sacandaga Lake and Lake Pleasant lie in the central portion of Adirondack Park, but much of the shoreline is private property. Contrary to popular perception, there are many pockets of private property within the park, but most have building controlled by the Park which strictly regulates how much new development occurs within the park’s larger outside boundaries. The two lakes are very popular for water skiing, pontooning, boating, canoeing and kayaking. The lakes offer both warm-water and cold-water fisheries, providing a large variety of fish. Smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, brown trout, chain pickerel, rock bass, walleye, yellow perch and lake whitefish are all present, along with smaller panfish. Thanks to a healthy population of rainbow smelt, the bass and larger fish are well-fed and can grow quite large. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation monitors fish availability and stocks selected species regularly.

The two lakes are open to fishing year-round with ice fishing for trout popular during the winter. Special regulations control fishing on Sacandaga Lake and Lake Pleasant, so anglers should make sure to pick up a copy of these regulations when purchasing their required fishing license. No baitfish are allowed, and care must be exercised to avoid bringing in any invasive species which could harm the lakes’ natural ecology. The Lake Pleasant-Sacandaga Association works to educate lake users about invasive species and plans community activities such as boat parades and holiday events.

Sacandaga Lake is located on the west side of Lake Pleasant, and the west shore is partially within Adirondack Park’s West Canada Lakes Wilderness. Some private properties are located on the lakeshore, and a popular state campground occupies a portion called Moffitt Beach on the northeast shore. The campground was originally a local picnic spot where sand was mined to enhance nearby beaches. During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps had a camp at the lake and built the Moffitt Beach State Campground. The campground was later enlarged so that it now provides about 260 campsites, restrooms, showers, and a picnic area with tables and fireplaces, a trailer dump station, a recycling center, a boat launch, and a sand beach with a guarded swimming area open in the summer.

With over 1,500 acres of water surface, Sacandaga Lake offers plenty of fishing and boating fun. The nearby West Canada Lakes Wilderness is known as one of the Adirondack Park’s most remote trout fishing destinations, with over 50 ponds and lakes harboring brook trout. Trails lead to many of them, but some can only be accessed via trackless areas. Wilderness skills are required of hikers in the area. There are no major inflowing rivers into Sacandaga Lake, but a small watercourse called Sacandaga Outlet empties into nearby Lake Pleasant. This Sacandaga Lake is not to be confused with Great Sacandaga Lake, a reservoir downstream along the Sacandaga River which begins at Lake Pleasant.

Lake Pleasant is located only a few hundred yards away from Sacandaga Lake. Although a bit smaller at 1,475 acres, Lake Pleasant offers a marina which rents pontoons, ski boats, fishing boats and motors, kayaks and canoes; makes repairs; offers winter storage, launching facilities, and mooring apace; and sells marine supplies. An elevated fishing platform is located on the northeast corner of the lake, and a town boat launch near the outlet at the Sacandaga River off Route 8 is just outside of the Village of Speculator. A public beach is also located in Speculator. In August, an antique wooden boat show and regatta are held at the marina on Lake Pleasant. More of Lake Pleasant’s shoreline is in private hands, and many seasonal homes are located here. Lake Pleasant has an average depth of 29 feet and reaches 60 feet at its deepest. The Sacandaga River flows out of the north end of the lake into a series of wetlands and eventually becomes a sizable river tributary to the Hudson River.

The town of Lake Pleasant and its small neighbor, the Village of Speculator at the north end of Lake Pleasant, are located on one of Adirondack Park’s famous Scenic Byways: State Route 8. This Route is designated the Southern Adirondacks Trail and skirts the edge of both towns, multiple lakes, and scenic wild vistas beginning at Herkimer and Little Falls on the Erie Canal. A number of scenic viewpoints, lodges, locally-owned motels, bed & breakfasts, resort cottages and campgrounds are located in the area, so lodgings are usually easily found. Some private home owners rent their lakefront cottages for short periods. Visitors will find facilities for food, supplies, entertainment, and unique shops and artists’ galleries located along the Scenic Trail and in the villages at Lake Pleasant. Some real estate is available, mostly in the form of existing housing. Trails abound for hiking, with some designated for mountain biking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and sports suitable to the four seasons.

Autumn color tours of the Scenic Byways and local forest trails are favorites among photographers. Sections of Adirondacks Park fill the space between small villages, creating a seemingly endless wooded wilderness replete with wildlife, birds and waterways. A few of the mammals found in the area include moose, white-tailed deer, black bears, beavers, porcupines, coyotes, bobcats, fishers, pine martens, raccoons, muskrats, river otters, chipmunks, red squirrels and grey squirrels. Loons, spruce grouse, ruffed grouse, mergansers, bald eagles, osprey and many other birds inhabit the area, and bird-watching is a favorite activity.

The Hamilton County Department of Tourism at Lake Pleasant can provide maps and birding lists, and will be glad to give visitors the details of the Adirondack Park ‘Challenges’, including the Fire Tower Challenge and the Waterfall Challenge. Hikers who visit all of the destinations listed in the Challenge brochure and fill out a comment on each can receive decorative patches for their favorite hiking jacket. The first-time visitor to Adirondack Park will do well to make Lake Pleasant or Sacandaga Lake their headquarters for the visit. The Park and its environs are addictive; one visit is never enough. Make reservations early and start planning the vacation of a lifetime.

*Statistics listed are for Sacandaga Lake only.

Things to do at Sacandaga Lake & Lake Pleasant

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Sacandaga Lake & Lake Pleasant

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Smelt
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Whitefish
  • Yellow Perch

Sacandaga Lake & Lake Pleasant Photo Gallery

Sacandaga Lake & Lake Pleasant Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,589 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,726 feet

Average Depth: 28 feet

Maximum Depth: 50 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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