Cranberry Lake is a gorgeous recreation area in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. It’s a perfect spot for hiking, bike riding and boating.
This fall, we got acquainted for the first time with Cranberry Lake, a popular (but remote!) area in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. This nearly 7,000-acre lake is a beautiful destination for camping enthusiasts!
The lakeside campground is open from mid-May to mid-October, according to its official website. We visited in September and took advantage of the nearby hiking trails and kayaking.
Could Cranberry Lake be next on your list of places to get away to? Here are the things we noticed and enjoyed about this scenic spot.
Getting Supplies at Cranberry Lake
Firewood and ice were both available at the campground at the point of check-in. You can also often find firewood sold at roadside stands nearby.
Grocery stores were some distance away, but not unreasonably so. They’re just far enough away that you’ll probably want to make a point of stopping at one and stocking up before you get to the lake.
At Tupper Lake, which is 30 minutes east, you’ll have an IGA and Save-a-Lot. An hour east, at Saranac Lake, you’ll have even more options (like Aldi).
Kayaking + Canoeing
Motor boats are allowed on Cranberry Lake, and the extremely large lake tends to have quite a few waves!
The water was pretty rough in the lake while we were there, but we did see a few kayakers.
In view of the rough water at Cranberry Lake, we drove to the nearby Oswegatchie River and canoed (and kayaked) there.
The views were gorgeous!
Need suggestions on kayaking gear for beginners? This guide is for you!
Campsites in Cranberry Lake
Make reservations online to pick out the spot you want at Cranberry Lake.
There are 171 campsites. Some have lake access. Sites across the campground road from the lake do not have lake access.
We enjoyed the roomy campsites. In keeping with the isolated nature of the lake, sites were fairly spread apart!
There were lots of bathrooms nearby. There was also a shower house, although we didn’t use it on this trip. The amenities include flush toilets and hot showers.
Oh, and one unexpected perk was all the ducks! They were friendly little creatures!
Hiking Bear Mountain
Bear Mountain is a hiking trail that starts from the campground.
The trail is moderately difficult, with a 797-foot elevation gain. There’s no rock scrambling, just a rocky steep path with a nice view.
The trail is a 2.7-mile broken loop. It begins near campsite 27 and ends on the other side of the campground.
If you opt to walk all the way back to the trailhead (to get back to your bicycle or car), this becomes a 3.7-mile loop trail, with the entire last mile being along the campground road.
This trail actually ended near our campsite, so a friend drove us back to the trailhead to get our car.
You’ll find that the route is clearly marked.
Bear Mountain Trail starts out steep, and then gets a bit steeper.
It had rained the day before, so the trail was a little muddy near the beginning, but quickly dried out as it rose in elevation.
Wooden planks kept us above some of the mud.
You’ll pass a small wooden shelter on the side of the path.
When you reach the large stone area, you’re at the top! Check the rock for the summit marker.
After you make the summit, keep going along the trail to see the overlooks, which you don’t want to miss.
At the first overlook, trees block the view partially.
The second overlook is better, with a nice clear view of Cranberry Lake.
When you reach a creek and a small wooden bridge, you’re at the end of the path.
A second wooden bridge will put you out on the campground path.
Head back along the road towards campsite 27 and the trailhead if you need to get back to your car.
Other Things to Do at Cranberry Lake
You can also ride bikes, go fishing, or go swimming at Cranberry Lake. There’s a designated beach area, but we didn’t use it. In September it was a bit too cold for that!
In the fall season, sitting around a campfire with friends was one of the most appealing options! Ideally, with a mug of campfire hot chocolate with peanut butter whiskey.
And, of course, enjoying the glow of the sunset and all the colors it cast on the water.
Although the campground isn’t open through the winter, there are still recreation opportunities available if you’re staying someplace else nearby.
If you’re looking for a more robust hiking challenge, or even a chance to ski or snowshoe, check out the Cranberry Lake 50. It’s a 50-mile circumnavigation of the lake that takes you through a variety of landscapes.
There are also snowmobile trails!
The takeaway? Cranberry Lake is a great place to get away and enjoy the fresh air. If you’re planning an Adirondacks trip, maybe this is the campground for you!