I was looking for a ride with peaceful country back roads and beautiful views to share with friends. That’s exactly what I found on the Three Lakes Ride that begins in Brant Lake. I had ridden this route before and knew it would be a bit of a challenge for some at 32-miles, but rewarding enough for others used to longer rides.
We met at a local recreation gathering spot in Brant Lake, fittingly named The Hub. The Hub is a place where cyclists, hikers, paddlers and the like gather before and after their outing. They serve coffee and breakfast if you start early, lunch and cold beverages in the afternoon, and if you hang around a while, you can soak up the local nightlife vibe. Ample parking is offered in an adjacent gravel parking lot. And, if you need a quick repair or spare tube, stop in the bike shop and look for Noah.
My group of 11 met at 8:30 a.m. with the intent of starting our ride promptly at 9:00 a.m. Slightly overcast skies and 65-degree temperatures were actually perfect riding conditions.
We headed out of the parking lot and jumped onto Palisades Road, a winding road that hugs the western edge of Brant Lake. And because the road was narrow with no shoulder, both drivers and cyclists were cautioned to keep right at all times. An early start worked to our benefit as we saw only two or three cars on a seven-mile stretch. The group chattered back and forth admiring the summer camps and beautiful waterfront homes we cycled by.
A quick stop at the intersection with Beaver Pond Road gave us time to appreciate the bucolic landscape of the meadow and mountain that lie before us. A “Share the Road” sign hinted that we weren’t the first cyclists on this road.
Upon the recommendation of one of our riders, we continued on to the North Brant Lake Cemetery. Leaning our bikes against the split rail fence, we strolled to the back of the cemetery where he pointed out two peculiar things, a gravestone fitted to look like the shape of a goose in flight with a countryside scene etched on it and the single gravestone in the cemetery facing east, while all others faced west. There are some stories to be told in this cemetery, but they will wait for another time, as the black flies realized we had stopped riding and were dutifully buzzing around our heads.
Continuing on Beaver Pond Road we noticed (did you really have to guess?) a beaver hut on the pond to our right. There were camps and summer homes on the pond (that looked more the size of a lake) and a couple out for a morning walk. While there were no cars to contend with, it quickly became apparent that both hands would be needed to steady the wheel as the alligator cracking of this portion of the road created less than optimum cycling conditions.
After a quick three miles on Johnson Road and at the 13-mile mark of our ride we were rewarded with the vision from heaven known as the Adirondack General Store. This authentic country store has been around since 1855 and caters to locals and seasonal visitors alike. Located in the southeast corner of Schroon Lake in the quaint town of Adirondack, you can stop for breakfast or lunch at the café, pick up food, gear or cold beverages for your summer camp, take home a souvenir or grab ice-cream-on-a-stick for the old-fashioned price of fifty cents. The store was jumping on Saturday morning with our group of cyclists joining the locals who stopped to pick up the daily news. Vintage gas pumps lent an air of nostalgia which made this feel like more of an Adirondack experience than a stop for water and refueling.
Cyclist’s note: Another excellent ride is the 26-mile loop around Schroon Lake, which will also call the Adirondack General Store its halfway point.
The next segment of our ride was four miles on East Shore Drive along the south end of Schroon Lake to the intersection with State Route 9. Camps and homes dot both sides of the road and fishing boats were drifting on the water. This was yet another section offering such magnificent scenery that it was hard to keep your eyes on the road when you wanted to admire the view of Schroon Lake and the surrounding Adirondack Mountains.
The last leg of our lake loop lie just ahead. Route 9 along Loon Lake is somewhat similar to the other sections of lakeside road we traveled, except that Route 9 is a state highway and there was a bit more traffic as the clock clicked closer to noon. Although there was not much of a shoulder here, cars seemed accustomed to bicycles on the road and slowed as they passed us.
We followed our cue sheets back to the flashing light in Chestertown and opted for a mile that ran parallel to Route 8, keeping us away from traffic on the busier road. Then a three-mile jaunt out and back on Schroon River Road to Horicon Avenue would bring us up to 32 miles (because 32 sounds better than 29). This spilled us into the roundabout near the Mill Pond and the welcome sight of The Hub across the road.
Back at the parking lot we recounted our journey and hoisted bikes atop cars before heading inside for lunch and a cold beverage. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming and the lunch menu did not disappoint. It featured fresh, locally sourced food that was made to order and selection of craft beverages at darn reasonable prices.
The owner, Drew, stopped at our table to chat with us about our ride because, well, that’s what he does. He eagerly told us about the Brant Lake Mountain Bike Park, scheduled to open the following week, and the work he had done on the Bartonville Mountain Hiking Trail, also on his property. (Just in case you had some energy left after your morning road ride, you could conveniently make a day of it by hiking the 1.5-mile round trip or switching gears (pun unintended) to an afternoon of mountain biking.
I highly recommend exploring this beautiful tri-lakes area on two wheels. There are many backcountry roads to choose from, friendly folk in each small community, and plenty of options for stopping to soak up the local flavor at restaurants, country stores, and pubs.
Note: This route is part of the Cycling Challenge. Choose from 18 on-road routes and 12 off-road routes, and ride eight to complete the Challenge.
Insider tip: Cyclists are also welcome to park at the North Warren Chamber of Commerce when headed out for a ride. Located on Route 8 at Dynamite Hill Recreation Area, you can stop in for cycling info or ask questions about the local area. Look for a row of colorful painted bicycles lined up along the fence, proof positive that you are in a cycle-friendly neck of the woods.