Saranac Lakes, New York, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - New York - Adirondacks -

Also known as:  Lower Saranac Lake, Middle Saranac Lake, Upper Saranac Lake

New York’s Saranac Lakes — Lower Saranac Lake, Middle Saranac Lake, and Upper Saranac Lake — offer visitors peaceful islands, incredible Adirondack vistas, and beautiful waters to explore. Though once an important transportation route, the lakes now serve as a recreational haven in northern New York, welcoming many visitors to their shores every year.

The Village of Saranac Lake, located about one-half mile east of Lower Saranac Lake, was first settled in 1819. Before the innovations of the automobile and railroads, the lakes allowed for water transportation from Old Forge to Lake Champlain. The lakes began to support tourism in the mid-1800s, and in 1880 the Wawbeek Lodge was opened on Upper Saranac Lake. The lodge offered luxurious rooms, quaint cottages, and carpeted shoreline tents. Though the hotel closed in 1914, its importance as the first large hotel helped fuel tourism. The Saranac Lake area was also known as a healing area, with fresh, cleansing mountain airs that helped establish the area as a leading health resort in the late nineteenth century. Today, Saranac Lake is still known for its natural beauty, clean air, and wonderful restorative qualities.

Adirondack Park is a wonderful place to begin your trip, covering 6.1 million acres and offering the highest mountain peaks in the state. Created in 1892, the park is home to American beaver, fisher, American marten, moose, osprey, and many other species of animals and waterfowl. Nature lovers can traverse the park’s groomed trails and canoe the rivers, taking photos of the amazing sights and appreciating the lake and mountain vistas that surround.

The Saranac Lakes offer excellent fishing, and a morning out on the lake not only offers a brilliant orange sunrise and quiet contemplation, but the opportunity to catch the day’s dinner. The lakes are home to smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, brown bullhead, yellow perch, rainbow smelt, and pumpkinseed. In addition, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) stocks lake trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout in Upper Saranac Lake to enhance its Coldwater Fishery. Anglers can head out onto the lakes on their own, navigating the calm waters, or may go out with one of the lake’s several guides.

Bird watchers flock to the Saranac Lakes each year. About 180 different bird species have been recorded, including woodpeckers, swallows, warblers, owls, and sparrows. Advanced birders can venture out on their own, armed with an area birding map, and beginners can join in on one of the area’s several birding tours.

Camping is a Saranac Lake favorite. The DEC operates the Saranac Lake Islands Public Campground. More than 60 camping sites are available on Lower Saranac Lake, with another 25 sites available on Middle Saranac Lake. Camp sites book quickly as the weather begins to warm, so reserve your spot far in advance. You may never want to leave the Adirondack wilderness once you set up camp, build your camp fire, cook your freshly-caught fish, and curl up beneath the blankets for a night under the stars.

Of course, your visit to the Saranac Lakes isn’t complete without some time on the water, and canoes and kayaks dot the lakes’ surfaces on warm, sunny days. Bring your own or rent here at the lakes, and head out onto the clear, calm waters to do a bit of shoreline investigation. From your unique vantage point, you’ll have a front row seat to animals drinking at the shores, birds swooping through the air, and the sun eclipsing the mountains. For a bit of variety, take a daytime cruise or venture out with a professional guide, and see the best of the Lower, Middle, and Upper Saranac Lakes.

Because Upper, Middle, and Lower Saranac Lakes are interconnected, long-distance paddlers can challenge their endurance with a 20-mile trip from Upper Saranac Lake all the way to the Village of Saranac Lake at the exit of Lower Saranac Lake. DEC operates the Upper Locks between Middle and Lower Saranac Lakes, and the Lower Locks at the exit of Lower Saranac Lake to the Saranac River.

Because of the popularity of DEC campsites and the proximity of services at the Village of Saranac Lake, the lake statistics provided on the sidebar are for Lower Saranac Lake. Statistics for the Upper and Middle Saranac Lakes follow here:

Surface Acres: 4,773 Upper, 1,393 Middle
Elevation (ft.): 1,580 Upper, 1,540 Middle
Shoreline Miles: 37 Upper, (?) Middle
Maximum Depth (ft): 90 Upper, 15 Middle
Mean Depth (ft): 33 Upper, 9 Middle

Saranac Lake, New York and its surrounding lakes and mountains offer visitors unforgettable scenery, beautiful hiking and biking trails, stellar fishing, and a great outdoors full of opportunity. Your visit here will be whatever you make it, and a day can be as fun-packed or relaxing as you choose.

Things to do at Saranac Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Birding

Fish species found at Saranac Lakes

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brown Bullhead
  • Brown Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Smelt
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Yellow Perch

Saranac Lakes Photo Gallery

Saranac Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Surface Area: 2,214 acres

Shoreline Length: 17 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,540 feet

Average Depth: 28 feet

Maximum Depth: 50 feet

Lake Area-Population: 5,041

At LakeLubbers.com, we strive to keep our information as accurate and up-to-date as possible, but if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you!
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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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