Arriving on a cool September afternoon, we ventured up to the rustically beautiful main lodge at Elk Lake to check in and grab our room key. After a pleasant chat with the receptionist, we made our way to one of the suites in Big Darling, a lodge that sits atop a wooded hill reached by taking a short trail from the Main Lodge. Taking the stairs to the second floor, we unpacked our bags and settled in for a bit. The view from the room (specifically the deck!) is one to write home about - between Elk Lake, the High Peaks, and the sunshine, the scene is perfectly set.
Once we had a little R&R, we made our way to the boat launch to take some kayaks out on the lake. With 600 acres of water, the winding channels, sandy bays, and treed islands are all begging to be explored. The views of the High Peaks from the water are incredible. As we paddled along, we saw plenty of loons and noticed that there were quite a few trails accessible from the lake. While we didn’t get a chance to scope them out during that visit, they’re something to look forward to!
The main lodge at Elk Lake was built in 1904 and with its rustic fieldstone fireplace, it’s a classic example of Adirondack architecture. A feeling of coziness emanates from the lodge - with big comfy chairs and eclectic old decor that takes you back in time, the lodge truly makes you feel at home. The dining room of the lodge offers views of the lake with the welcoming centerpiece of another fireplace.
Meals are called to service with the ringing of the dinner bell. Guests are seated to enjoy delicious food, with dinners being a soup, salad, and a choice of two entrees, plus a homemade dessert. Locally sourced ingredients are used in season and as often as available. With a nice glass of red wine to accompany the meal, the atmosphere was truly set.
After dinner, Evan and I wandered down to the beach to enjoy some bottomless s’mores and watch the sunset from the dock, a memory that is treasured for sure.
After a restful night of sleep, the next morning we made our way to the main lodge for breakfast which included hearty options of eggs and French toast or pancakes. We were also provided with a trail lunch that we had chosen at dinner the night before - a great way to make sure we had fuel for the day ahead.
With 40 miles of private mountain and lakeside trails connecting to New York State trails, including Mount Marcy and the Dix range, we had plenty of options for places to explore. Sunrise Mountain, Clear Pond Mountain, Lightning Hill and Grandpa Pete's are all entirely within the preserve and off limits to those who are not guests, as is access to Boreas Mountain.
The hiking trails in the privately owned 12,000 acre Elk Lake – Clear Pond Preserve, are open only to guests of Elk Lake Lodge or those with approved permission to be on the property.
We chose to start the day with Sunrise Mountain, a nice 5-mile loop from the lodge. With several viewpoints along the way, we took our time on the hike up, enjoying the scenery and we wound up having the summit to ourselves. We unpacked our brown-bag lunches and savored our tasty sandwiches and snacks while overlooking Elk Lake. We made sure to soak up the sun while we could and enjoyed some peaceful time on the summit.
The rest of the day was spent hanging out on the docks, taking advantage of the disconnection from the internet to get in some quality reading time, and then answering to the dinner bell for yet another delicious meal.
Our final morning was misty and cool - after a cozy breakfast next to the fireplace, we decided to take a walk around Clear Pond and up to the summit of Clear Pond Mountain before departing from the Elk Lake Preserve.The view was incredible with Elk Lake and the ADK High Peaks standing tall in the distance.