There are different ways you can experience the Adirondacks on bike: bike tours, mountain biking, singletrack trails, bike races, triathlons, and even a quadrathlon.
I’m not a racer but I have biked almost every possible way in the Adirondacks. This spring I decided to try a new perspective on Adirondack biking: beach cruiser biking!
That’s right, I cruised around on a simple, one-speed, nothing fancy, “basket on the front” cruiser bike. Mine even had a bell!
I know roads and trails can be gruelingly steep in the Adirondacks, but that's not always the case. You just need to know where to look, and I figured the best place to start would be the campgrounds!
Campgrounds are criss-crossed with lots of meandering little roads and are often near water which can mean more level ground.
It’s always fun to combine food with everything. And with that in mind, my biking partner and I packed up our little cruisers and headed out for our first cruising adventure spot.
Lake Durant Campground (Approx. 5 miles)
Driving out of Indian Lake toward Blue Mountain Lake is a delight in itself. Once you get past the parking area for Sawyer Mountain, the road winds back and forth, playing peek-a-boo with Blue Mountain. The views are spectacular.
We decided to get a little extra riding in by parking at the Durant Lake Overlook — it's about 9.6 miles from the intersection of Routes 30 and 28 in the center of Indian Lake. Then we zipped on our bikes across Route 28 and started our ride on a secondary road that's marked on maps as Old Route 30.
All along this little road are designated campsites that are actually not part of the official campground. You can camp here for free but then you can’t use the beach, boat launch, or bathrooms and showers at the campground. So, you’re on your own. The road was a little rough but Blue Mountain and Lake Durant views made this a great little ride.
Eventually we came out onto a lovely grassy trail — it's actually part of the Northville-Placid Trail — which leads right into the campground. We made a quick stop at the entrance booth to pay our $2 day use fee and began our tour of the area. These roads proved to be rolling hills but once I channeled my 9-year-old self, I remembered how to make gravity work to my advantage by coasting downhill in anticipation of the next uphill.
The advantage of doing a slow riding tour is being able to check out different campsites. Lake Durant Campground is pretty small and delightfully peaceful.
To finish our bike tour, we had two choices: Backtrack the way we came or head out onto Route 28 and ride back to our car. Route 28 traffic is pretty light and the shoulder is extremely wide but we opted to go back the way we came along Old Route 28. We were not disappointed when we spotted a Canada goose family in a small overflow pond — the chicks were still fluffy!
Inlet — Limekiln and Eighth Lake Canoe Carry (Approx. 5.75 miles and 3 miles)
For our next trip we decided to get a little ambitious by combining two rides in one. Packing up our cruisers, we set off for Limekiln Campground, just east of town. At the sign for Ole Barn and Moose River Plains (across from Zone 3 Plant Store), we turned onto Limekiln Lake Road, driving past the golf course on our left. After about a mile and a half, we turned at the sign for Limekiln Lake Campground. After a short distance is parking to your left and the entrance booth ahead. We chatted with the attendant as we paid our $2 day use fee. Then, after consulting the map, we started our ride.
We took the first right and headed up, and I mean UP, into the first area of campsites. This short stretch of road was a bit much for my little one-speed and I barely made it to the top of the hill without having to walk my bike —WHEW! I really missed my 18-speed here. Winding our way around the couple of roads, we had a good time noting where the great views are and which sites looked good for tenting. After getting the full tour of this little region, we coasted down the hill and got back onto the main campground road. Turning right, we rode past the boat launch, took a quick ride through campsites 7 - 32 and then continued over to the beach area.
The beach is beautiful. There are numerous grill sites for day use, a pavilion, and canoes for rent. As far as cruiser riding goes, this whole area was filled with little side paths connecting the campsites. Because we were there pre-season, most campsites were empty and we were able to wind our way all over without having to stick to the main road. We found an old dam, loads of blackberry bushes, and an enormous boulder gripped tightly by an enterprising tree — the base of its trunk was about six feet off the ground. All of these roads and side paths were easily ridden by our mighty one-speeds, which was great.
We worked our way back to the car, loaded up our bikes, and made our way to Ride #2. Well, OK. Full disclosure: We first made a gelato stop in Inlet at Northern Lights Creamery!
From Inlet, we drove eastward along Route 28 toward Raquette Lake. A little over eight miles from Arrowhead Park in Inlet was a nondescript parking area on our left. This is it! We pulled in here and got our bikes ready. At the western edge of the parking area, just at the edge of the woods, is a sign designating this as the trailhead for the Eighth Lake (to the left) and Brown Tract Pond (to the right) canoe carries. These sections of trail are definitely more off-road but we decided to see how our little cruisers would do.
We headed toward Eighth Lake first and, after only about .4 miles, came to the lake and (added bonus!) the Dunning lean-to. This lean-to can be reached by the trail we just took and also by canoe. Eighth Lake, you will notice, is right there! During the 90-miler Canoe Race every fall, this trail is one of the carries along the main thoroughfare for any boater on the course.
After taking a short break, we pedaled back the way we came and continued in the other direction toward Browns Tract Pond. Although an easy-to-intermediate trail for any mountain bike, the roots, mud, and terrain were a little challenging for our cruiser bikes, but we made it. Near the end, the trail for Browns Tract Pond heads up to the left but we continued straight. I was thrilled to find a surprise — a little boardwalk! It was obviously used to help canoers get onto the waterways toward Browns Tract Pond (west) or Raquette Lake (east). It was really fun to ride on.
Lewey Lake (Approx. 5 miles)
A week later we embarked on our third beach cruiser bike adventure: Lewey Lake Campground. This campground is just across the road from the Indian Lake Islands Campground and we found great riding on both sides of Route 30. The short loop on the east side of the road took us past a couple dozen campsites and then back to Route 30. Along the west side of 30, there are several entrances to campsite areas and, of course, we biked them all. Lewey Lake has a great beach and a tremendous variety of campsite settings — wooded, lakeside, and beachside. They all looked great and many were filled with very happy campers!
The terrain here worked well for our one-speed wonders and we wound our way along all of the little roads connecting the many campsites. It was fantastic riding all around! I will say that my favorite spot was in the northernmost short section of road next to the Falls Brook campsites. The brook runs right next to most of these sites and under this amazing stone bridge. Very cool!
After our Lewey Lake bike trip, we headed in to Speculator for some ice cream at Lakeside Licks — I love their Staff-created Specialty Sundaes — and then wandered over to the Lake Pleasant Beach to enjoy the gorgeous view of the lake.
When we got our beach bike cruisers, we got them for the beach, of course! But I like to think outside the box and I really think we’re onto something here in the Adirondacks. There are still campgrounds to discover and trails in wild forest areas that could be explored, and even some quiet back roads that might be very interesting.
I made it my goal to seek out some places where I could enjoy a leisurely cruise on my little one-speed beach-cruising bicycle, and I came away with a new list of places to check out.
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