With its lakeside location, nearby hiking trails, beach, restaurants, and diminutive yet bustling downtown, Inlet is a choice spot for an Adirondack getaway. It's a hub for boating, swimming, fishing, hiking, and relaxing. The whole place even smells outdoorsy and sweet, thanks to the towering pines sprinkled throughout the hamlet.
But for all of its quintessential Adirondack components, Inlet, situated squarely on Fourth Lake and ringed by mountains, holds many surprises — a coffee shop that rivals any found on a city corner, a boardwalk for strolling, and airplane rides over the Adirondacks. Fun fact: Although there is no cell service here, the town has installed Wi-Fi throughout the hamlet that works almost everywhere. There are still working public payphones, a rare sight these days.
My first visit to Inlet was last week on a 75-degree sunny September day. From any vantage point on Main Street, you can pretty much see the entire downtown and adjacent waterfront park. This compact yet active retail center is full of locally-owned stores and the park is the focus of all things summer — a sandy beach, pier, and town-owned recreation like tennis courts, a new playground, and a lawn for outdoor concerts.
It seems like Inlet is intent to impress. My self-guided tour began with the shops filled with local books, housewares, and high-end outdoor clothing, and locally-made jewelry. There's a place to buy kayaks, fishing gear, and Adirondack chairs. Looking for a new bicycle? Named one of America's Best Bike Shops by the National Bicycle Dealers Association, Pedals & Petals doubles as a gift shop and is well-known for its beautiful flower arrangements.
A Petals and Pedals employee is making bouquets for a wedding tomorrow at a local inn.
I stopped at the Blue Line Coffee House and found Alicia, a talented barista. My latte struck the right balance between strong and smooth. The coffee house is a gathering spot and even holds open mic nights in the summer.
Alicia directed me next door to check out Fourth Lake Wine and Spirits, which is under new ownership. The young couple are Chicagoans with ties to the area. Both Carrie and Stephen have a deep understanding of the industry. He owns a few craft cocktail bars in downtown Chicago, and she worked in wine retail for a decade. That experience translates into an eclectic yet affordable cross section of wines and spirits. I purchased a bottle for later that evening.
There is no other reason for this pic, except that, who doesn't love photos of dogs? These friendly fellows were hanging out on Main Street, waiting for attention from passers-by.
From there, I crossed the street and walked about three minutes to Arrowhead Park. Tall pines give way to tennis courts, a well-kept playground, and finally to the beach, with its pier and plenty of benches for doing a bunch of nothing. From my perch on the public dock, I watched variouse watercrafts go by — canoes, kayaks, and powerboats, all out to enjoy a day on the lake. The beach was quiet, as it was a Wednesday, but I am told it is very popular with families. And to my surprise, there's a boardwalk along the inlet, which is lit at night for a cool evening stroll. It also doubles as a docking point for boats heading into Fourth Lake.
By air or by sea.
There are only two places in the Adirondacks where one can take a ride in a seaplane, and Inlet is one of them. Just a mile outside the village you'll find Paynes Air Service. In full disclosure, my fear of heights kept me firmly planted on the ground, but imagine soaring above a ceaseless unfolding scene of uninterrupted lakes and mountains. Imagine is all I will do, but the director of the Inlet tourism office, Adele, was kind to share a few pics from her recent trip aloft.
I'm more of a boat girl, so I took note of all the ways you can play in the water. Paddlers venture from all over the Northeast to explore the waterways in and around Inlet on the Fulton Chain of Lakes. Local marinas, outfitters, and guides are available to get you out for a day or weekend. It really is a boater's paradise. You can pull up right to the boardwalk and head into town for a bite to eat.
After lunch, I drove five miles from Inlet to the trailhead of Ferd's Bog, a 170-acre wetland, recommended by Adele at the tourism bureau. Located off of Uncas Road, this is a short 15-minute walk to a safe, plastic, floating walkway and observation post. I'm not a birder, but I am told this is paradise for those who love winged creatures. But the panoramic view of the bog and surrounding mountains was gorgeous.
Although I was not staying for dinner, I decided to scout out dining options for my next trip. I stopped by the Woods Inn, an historic structure sitting right on Fourth Lake. It came recommended, so I will be back. For this trip, I poked around and found this spot on their wrap-around porch for a beer or a meal.
And with an hour and a half drive ahead of me, I visited the Screamin' Eagle, a popular bar and pizza place, without having a beer. But what a shame, with 50 beers on tap. Next time.