With an area nearly the size of Delaware, Hamilton County is New York’s third largest county in area, but holds the title for the least densely populated county east of the Mississippi River. As of 2020, Hamilton County has a population of 5,107, which shakes out to just over three people per square mile. With that being said, it's no surprise that there isn't a single corporate fast food outlet in the county, nor a permanent traffic light. That means Hamilton County has plenty of wilderness to explore and enjoy amidst its 12 communities and they are nothing short of charming. Let's get to know them!
County fun facts:
1. The county is named for the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.
2. There are 5 fire towers located in Hamilton County: Owls Head, Blue Mountain, Wakely Mountain, Snowy Mountain, and Pillsbury Mountain.
3. Hamilton County boasts 77 major lakes and 19 waterfalls. Take the Waterfall Challenge Tour!
The Town of Long Lake is named for its slender body of water that flows for 14 miles. It has one of the most beautiful beaches in the Adirondacks and even serves as the venue for music nights in the summer. Long Lake is an all-season, family-friendly destination. In the summer, paddling and hiking are easily accessible and endless miles of trails mean you will never get bored. In the winter, snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers flock to Long Lake to enjoy its pristine landscape.
1. Hoss's Country Corner has a live tree growing through the roof, giving it a noteworthy edge over other shopping locations.
2. The Adirondack guide boat was born from the rugged shores of Long Lake.
3. Long Lake is one of just two places in the Adirondacks where you can enjoy a scenic seaplane ride. See the Adirondacks from the air with Helms Aero Service.
The town of Indian Lake is a quaint Adirondack town 2-miles north of its namesake lake, which is 12 miles long. This lake feeds the Indian River, where whitewater rafting trips begin their journeys before reaching the Hudson River. From spring to fall, school buses painted vibrant colors dot the area to transport adventurous souls on their 17-mile long trip, which gives the town a lively vibe. For those who prefer a more low key adventure, Indian Lake has more than 300 miles of hiking trails, including access to 2 fire towers (Wakely Mt. and Snowy Mt.). If you're lucky, you might witness a bald eagle or even a resident moose.
1. Indian Lake is also rightly known as the Whitewater Capital of New York.
2. Indian Lake is home to one of New York’s tallest waterfalls in New York: OK Slip Falls.
3. Wakely Mountain’s 70-foot fire tower is one of the highest in New York state.
Inlet is located along the Adirondack's popular Fulton Chain of Lakes, a string of eight lakes that offers endless paddling and recreational opportunities. Arrowhead Park offers a sandy public beach on the waters of Fourth Lake, a perfect place to relax and within walking distance to Northern Lights Creamery, which offers homemade ice cream and gelato.
1. In 2014, Inlet, NY shattered the Guinness World Record for the largest raft made up of canoes and kayaks. Paddlers from 31 states, as well as participants from 2 Canadian provinces, Thailand and Belgium came together on Fourth Lake to form a raft of 3,150 canoes and kayaks.
2. 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.
3. Pedals and Petals is a full-service bike shop and flower/gift shop.
Raquette Lake is one of the crown jewels of the Adirondack Park with over 99-miles of evergreen shoreline. You can spend a couple days paddling and camping or hop aboard the W.W. Durant for a cruise with the Raquette Lake Navigation Co. Raquette Lake is a paradise for both nature lovers and history buffs alike. William West Durant is the man responsible for the Great Camp style of architecture and his influence can be found throughout the region. Experience what life at the Great Camps was like by taking a day tour at Great Camp Sagamore or better, staying right onsite.
1. With 99 miles of shoreline and 19 islands, Raquette Lake is the largest lake bound completely within the Adirondack Park.
2. Raquette Lake is the birthplace of the iconic Adirondack Great Camp Architecture.
3. Raquette Lake is named after a giant heap of racquettes (French for snowshoes) found on a knoll where South Inlet joins the lake.
Blue Mountain Lake
This picturesque hamlet is a cultural hub in the heart of the Adirondack Park. It is home to the world famous Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, which shares the region's rich history through 24 galleries and buildings. The museum also boasts incredible views of Blue Mountain Lake. However, if a birds eye view is what you are after, you can hike to the top of the Blue Mountain Lake Fire Tower to view the lake in its entirety.
1. Constructed in the 1880s, The Prospect House on Blue Mountain Lake is known as the first hotel in the world to have electricity in every guest room.
2. Thomas Edison was a frequent visitor to the area and became the head electrician for the Prospect House.
3. Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, is the largest museum in the Adirondacks
Speculator - Lake Pleasant
This quiet village sits on the shores of Lake Pleasant and is a spectacular, four-season wonderland. Outdoor activities include hiking, biking, boating, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and much more. Oak Mountain is a family-fun destination offering downhill skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. It's a great place for an adventure that's close to home. Speculator also has wonderful places to camp at spots like Moffitt Beach.
1. The original T-bar at Oak Mountain featured the same motor that was used to hoist up cables that make up the Golden Gate Bridge. The motor successfully continued to ferry skiers up the lift for over 50 years.
2. During the winter, Speculator offers easy access to over 750-miles of groomed snowmobile trails.
3. Charlie Johns Store is a one-of-a kind General Store offering everyday grocery needs, a full deli and bakery, hardware, camping gear, land and garden needs, and more.
Benson - Wells - Hope
Benson is home to Lapland Nordic Vacation Center, a resort that offers year round overnight lodging, where you can ski, fish, hike, kayak and more. In the winter, this family-friendly resort features unparalleled cross-country skiing with 50 kilometers of private trails.
Wells is bordered by Lake Algonquin to one side, and pristine forest to the other. It is filled with old-time character, a true rarity in today's day and age. The Oven Rock Cafe is a classic American-style diner with a wood stove right in the middle of the restaurant, perfect for those frigid winter days. In the warmer months, a restored gypsy wagon is on display. Wells is also home to five of the waterfalls included in Hamilton County's Waterfall Challenge!
The town of hope runs along the Sacandaga River and has a true wilderness feel to it. With few inhabitants and plenty of nature, Hope is the perfect place for a quiet, scenic getaway. Embrace the solitude at Groff Creek and Tenant Creek Falls.
1. Benson is part of the first section of the 135-mile Northville-Placid Trail.
2. Wells is the oldest town in Hamilton County, which celebrated its 200th anniversary on April 1, 2005.
3. Hope is home to the only farm in Hamilton County -- Hope Valley Farms.
Piseco - Arietta - Morehouse
Piseco-Arietta is a charming community that stretches around Piseco Lake. There are three NYS Public Campgrounds on the lake, which serves as confirmation to its popularity. Many people hike Panther Mountain during their stay, as it offers expansive views of the lake. Morehouse lies just west of Piseco in the West Canada Mountain Primitive Area.
1. Morehouse is also known as Whoville!
2. Every year a fly-in breakfast is held, where hundreds of people fly/drive to have a pancake breakfast at the Piseco Airport.
3. Over 95% of Piseco-Arietta is New York State Forest.
Congratulations, now you have the scoop. Hamilton County has over 1-million acres of unspoiled wilderness areas to explore with access to numerous, small communities in between. This is the place where small towns and big outdoors come together. Whether you are here for a day trip, weekend getaway, or longer, Hamilton County has a destination for you. Come play!