Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lake George island camping: 07/05/2012

Lake George island camping.  View of Shelving Rock Mountain, Gem and Little Gem Islands from Big Burnt Island.The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

I've been boating and paddling around Lake George for more than 30 years, but I never grow tired of visiting The Narrows, the island-studded middle section of the Lake. Steep mountains frame the Lake, and the forests on both shores are protected from development under the Forever Wild clause of the State Constitution. Many of the islands are available for camping, with a dock, picnic table and fireplace at each site.

On Thursday, six of us (Beth, Daniel and me, plus 3 other family members) loaded up my parents' pontoon boat with tents, sleeping bags, a pair of kayaks and enough food for a week, even though we were camping for just one night.

Loading up

From the dock at my parents' home in Bolton Landing, it's a quick trip across Bolton Bay, past the Sagamore, the tip of Tongue Mountain and into The Narrows. We had a reservation for two sites on Big Burnt Island, one of the largest islands, located just north of Glen Island.

Heading towards Tongue Mountain (L), Black Mountain (R) and The Narrows

Entering the Narrows

I'm sure many frequent island campers have their favorite site, but I doubt there's a bad one out of the nearly 400 island campsites lake-wide (200 sites in The Narrows). Our sites on Big Burnt were private, well treed and east facing. Bringing along the kayaks was a big plus, allowing us to paddle around Big Burnt and nearby islands. The kids swam for a bit.

Our campsite: Big Burnt #6

Swimming off the boat

Paddling around Gem and Little Gem Islands

We brought along firewood and cooked dinner (hamburgers, baked potatoes, salad) on the campfire. Simplicity was our goal, so we dispensed with bringing a stove and elaborate cooking gear. As the sun began to set, loons called and a near-full moon rose over the ridgeline of Black Mountain.

Sunset paddle

Gem and Little Gem

Tongue Mountain silhouette at dusk

What's camping without a campfire?

With our campsite's eastern exposure, the morning sun illuminated the lake early, and I took a 7am paddle around Gem, Phantom and Glen Islands. Sunrise and sunset are the prettiest times on the lake, with quiet water and beautiful lighting. The one drawback of not bringing a cookstove is no morning coffee, but a quick paddle over to the campground headquarters and general store on Glen Island fixed that.

Getting ready for a morning paddle

The motorboat makes it tough to call this "roughing it"

Island camping on Lake George is a unique experience that's something of a hybrid between backcountry and campground camping. Although we utilized a motorboat, the islands are also well suited to kayak or canoe camping. And although we accessed the lake directly from my parents' home, there are many public launches in Bolton Landing, including the DEC's free launch for car-top boats on Northwest Bay, approximately 4 miles north of Bolton Landing. Campsite reservations can be made through the DEC's Lake George Islands Campground website, but can only be made for stays of three nights or more. Reservations for shorter stays open up within 5 days of your anticipated stay. We had no trouble making our reservation for July 5 on June 30, even though it was a busy holiday period.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Jeff. It gives me the urge to switch gears and get the kayaks back in the water for some island camping now that I finished the 46. Last year we launched from Huletts Landing and stayed on Steere Island. It was great. We paddled around the Mother Bunch Islands. It's great on a weekday when there isn't too much motor boat traffic.