Two Wheels – and Two Routes – Around The Fulton Chain Lakes

Submitted by guest blogger Dave Kraus/KrausGrafik

The smooth roads, rolling forests, and blue lakes of the Fulton Chain Lakes offer everything a road cyclist could ask for in a great ride. But do you crave a bit of adventure? Well, you can have that, too.

This easily accessible area of the Central Adirondacks offers two different routes in particular that let you experience the best of the many lakes and scenic views in the area. They cover a lot of the same ground, but while one sticks to pavement, the other will take you down a gravel road that will put you and your skinny tires to the test. 

You can start either one of these rides at the public pier in Raquette Lake, a hamlet just off New York Route 28 perched beside its namesake shores. There’s plenty of parking and beautiful views across the water to the mountains of the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest.

When you head back over to the highway and turn right, the adventure begins. Route 28 alternates between passing through forest and giving glimpses of the many lakes that form the chain. After only seven miles, don’t miss the photo opportunity at the Seventh Lake Boat Launch, where floating docks let you walk 25 feet off shore. Then continue on the wide-open road to your first rest stop in the friendly village of Inlet.

Just before you turn left on South Shore Road, the Pedals & Petals shop offers a unique combination of bikes, accessories, flowers, and Adirondack-themed gifts. Need a derailleur adjustment while you pick up the flower arrangements for your cycling-themed wedding on the lakeshore? Owner and certified mechanic Ted Christodaro has you covered!

As you cruise toward Old Forge on South Shore Road, you won’t see much of the lake, but you’ll get a good dose some of the best wide-open, smooth forest roads in the heart of the Adirondacks. Drop the hammer and do some intervals. There’s plenty of room as you ride south.

At mile 22, you will arrive in Old Forge, a classic Adirondack resort town. There are plenty of services for travelers and no shortage of food and drink stops at this midpoint in your ride. 

After you’ve rested, head back north in the sunshine on Route 28 toward Eagle Bay, where the village visitor center at mile 32 offers water and restrooms. Shortly after you leave, you arrive at the intersection of Route 28 and Uncas Road, where you will have to make your decision: head straight back to Raquette Lake on the highway, finishing your 45-mile loop? Or take the road less traveled and engage in some unpaved exploits?

Well, of course you’re the adventurous type, so turn left on Uncas and head into the forest, where the pavement ends at mile 34. You will pass vacation cabins nestled in the woods as Uncas turns into Browns Tract Road and enters Adirondack Park land. If you’re on a road bike with narrow tires, this is the time to take it easy. Go slow on this seasonal gravel lane, especially on the downhills, and keep your eyes open for hazards. Just be alert and this road won’t give you any trouble.

The forest is shaded and quiet, and there’s no sound save for the singing birds and your own pedaling. Keep your eyes out for water to your left as you pass Upper and then Lower ponds, and then the state-owned Brown Tract Pond Campground. If you’re a camper, take note: the sites here are shaded, remote and quiet. 

Now get ready for some climbing as you tackle several short but steep grades. It’s the last push before you make the final turn back onto pavement at Antlers Road. From here it’s only a short downhill back to your car on the shore at Raquette Lake.

Now your biggest decision is which of the many local eateries you want to celebrate your ride at. Head back south to Inlet or book a dinner date with Raquette Lake Navigation Company and enjoy dinner aboard the W.W. Durant as it sails on Raquette Lake. Your adventure is complete!

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