Don't drive through — stop and take a look
You may have driven through Newcomb, and thought “there is not much here.” But wait! If you are an outdoor enthusiast you will be pleasantly surprised, as there is plenty to do and see!.
In the fall we had acquired a waterfront tent site on Lake Harris, a New York state campground with 90 campsites. Our site was on a bank, but it was not difficult to get to the water. The privacy was good and there were plenty of hardwood trees for hammock hanging. The lake, which is fed by the Hudson River, has a shoreline consisting of large rocks; however, it does not hinder you from launching your canoe or kayak. If you have a motorized boat no worries, there is a boat launch.
Our paddling on Lake Harris included paddling to the Great Camp Santanoni gate house and to one branch of the Hudson River. Two branches of the Hudson can be reached from the lake. We paddled one of them but unfortunately didn’t have time to paddle the other.
Near site 90, there is a trail that leads to the Santanoni parking area. We attempted to walk it, but a babbling brook with slippery-looking rocks shortened our walk. If we had made it to the parking area it would have been another 5 miles to the main camp. I have biked, walked, and skied to the main camp from the parking area. Add it to your bucket list, and if you don't like the options I mentioned there is another option — a wagon ride!
Bring your bike
I love biking and try to ride daily, so my bike is always on my packing list for camping. I always like a destination when I ride and I did want to check out Rich Lake prior to paddling it, so one morning I rode to it by heading west on Route 28N from Lake Harris Campground. Along the way I stopped at Scoops to check out the ice cream flavors, as ice cream would be dessert one night. Scoops also carries a variety of subs, wraps, sandwiches, hot dogs, and nachos, and some good looking side dishes!
Forget something? Check out the outfitters!
My next stop was Cloud-Splitter Outfitters, a little mini mart that has it all. Camping, paddling, hiking, and fishing gear are neatly displayed, as well as basic foods and some clothing. The owner stocks her inventory from a few big companies, but she proudly states that she deals with thirty-eight small businesses, so she helps her neighbors too. They also rent kayaks and canoes and they have a couple of rental cabins.
Small town, fantastic beach
After my visit to Cloud-Splitter I stopped by the town beach, and it was beautiful! Along with normal bathing facilities, it has a pavilion with a kitchen and curtains to shield the rain. There are plenty of tables in and out of the sun. The long, sandy beach has a playground area and volleyball net.
Explore and learn
My third stop was the Adirondack Interpretive Center, which is on Rich Lake. The AIC has wonderful trails, scheduled events, and display rooms. I continued on 28N to Rich Lake as I wanted to see the public launch area. It was even more beautiful than was described to me and I left excited about paddling here. My entire ride was approximately 14 miles with a few tough hills, but it was not enough exercise to burn off the cone I planned on eating!
Newcomb was settled around 1816 as a logging town. Just a few miles north of Newcomb is what remains of the historic ghost town of Tahawus, once called Adirondac (note: no k at the end). Due to the discovery and abundance of iron ore the town flourished — it even had a bank! The town was abandoned in 1856 as attempts to build a railway to the remote location failed. In 1941 the mines reopened and 14 tons of iron ore was extracted in 1943. In 1957, due to transportation problems, distribution problems, and the existence of titanium dioxide in the ore, the village was deserted.
Lake Henderson — a must for paddlers
We passed the Tahawus ruins, including the remains of the blast furnace, as we ventured to Henderson Lake. Henderson Lake was named after David Henderson, one of the founders of the Tahawus Iron Works (Tahawus means Cloudsplitter). The trek begins at the Upper Works parking area, which is at the end of County Route 25, off of Blue Ridge Road as it heads from Interstate 87 to Newcomb.
For the trek to the lake, I suggest you use wheels for your canoe or kayak. You will see signage for Duck Hole, Indian Pass, Flowed Lands, and Mt. Marcy on your way to the lake. Once on the lake the views of the High Peaks are breathtaking and you can easily spot Wallface, just look for the mountain's namesake 1,000 foot cliff. The southeast and west sides of Wallface drain into Henderson Lake, which is the source of the Hudson River. There are three tent sites and one lean-to site for primitive camping. I pulled out for a swim near one site, but did not walk to the campsite. I stopped to swim again at a picture-perfect rock cove that was truly a little piece of paradise!
Rich Lake — wow!
The day we paddled Rich Lake was perfect and we spent the entire day exploring it. The surrounding land is either privately owned or owned by SUNY-ESF, which owns and operates the Adirondack Interpretive Center. We ate lunch on ESF property and then paddled the other end of the lake. I continued to paddle into Fishing Brook and Flat Brook while the others headed back to the launch site. Fishing Brook had a strong current while Flat Brook had a slower current and is wider and prettier. In Flat Brook I encountered weeds and decided I best not go in alone.
Upon returning to the launch site I took a swim and then headed off to get an ice cream cone at Scoops! I retraced the bike ride I did the night before when I headed east on Route 28N past the overlook, a great place for stargazing. I drove around the residential streets and thought about how I need to come back here to camp, bike, paddle, and maybe even hike Goodnow Mountain.