Paradox Lake, a clear, sparkling water surrounded by rich boreal forests and rolling hills, offers visitors a quintessential Adirondack experience. Wide-reaching maples, shaggy birches and stately beeches throw green-tinted shade over campsites; summer visitors may catch glimpses of the brightly-colored warblers and other migratory birds flitting from branch to branch.
Tranquil North Woods paddling, world-class fishing, and tremendous hiking trails are all just steps away. A boat launch offers easy access to kayakers, canoers and boaters who want to explore Paradox’s glinting waters. Anglers can head out on the water, too, and try to snag some of the lake’s beautiful bass, pike, or perch. Across the lake, accessible only by boat, are a couple lovely hiking trails to make a day out of. For those wanting to really stretch their legs and put in some mileage, the beautifully rugged Pharaoh Lake Wilderness sits just to the south of the park. The wilderness sports over 70 miles of hiking trails, which weave their way a stunning landscape dotted with quiet ponds, rolling streams and rocky peaks.
Paradox Lake’s campground sports 56 primitive RV camping sites. Reservations can be taken up to nine months in advance. Plan ahead! Because the campground is conveniently located just off of I-87, it can get busy during peak season.
Though it certainly has an out-of-the-way, wilderness-y feel to it, Paradox Lake is actually surprisingly accessible. The campground is just a few minutes off of I-87, and it can be reached via an exit onto NY-74 (to the north of NY-74 is the campground and lake, and to the south lies the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness). Roads are paved and flat, offering few challenges for drivers.
If you’re looking to resupply, the nearest sizable town is Ticonderoga, NY, which can be reached by following NY-74 eastward. Ticonderoga has markets, restaurants, gas, banks, ATMs, camping supplies and more.
Once you’ve reached the campground, you’ll find sites laid out over a few interconnected loops. There’s ample space between sites, although all sites are back-in and many are very short- site lengths max out at 30 ft, with many being even shorter than this. There are a couple tight turns on portions of the camping loops, which means parking may require some patience. However, as long as you’re below the suggested length limits, you shouldn’t have too much trouble.
The campground at Paradox Lake features 56 lovely, forested sites suitable for RVs and trailers. Sites are well spaced and are surrounded by thick stands of hardwood trees, and the lake is just a short walk away. All sites at Paradox are primitive, offering no electric, water or sewage hookups. The park does, however, have several potable water spigots interspersed throughout the campground, and there’s a dump station located right near the entrance and registration booth. Sites also sport fire rings and picnic tables, and sheltered group picnic tables, showers, modern restrooms and a boat washing station are all available as well.
The campground’s season is relatively short, running from Mid-May to early September. Because the spot is both scenic and accessible, the campground can get pretty busy, especially during July and August. Reservations are accepted at Paradox for up to nine months in advance - certainly take advantage of the online reservation system if you’re expecting to come through during the busy season.
Sitting at nearly 900-acres, and with twelve gorgeous miles of heavily-forested shoreline, Paradox Lake is a sparkling Adirondack gem. And the best way to explore the cool, clear waters is, of course, by boat! Both motor and paddle boats are allowed on Paradox, with the latter being more popular - this is the heart of canoe country, after all. The park’s boat launch is located just past the campground and has an ample parking area. A concessionaire at the park rents out kayaks and canoes for day use, too.
Whether you paddle out onto the water or trek along the shore to find that perfect casting spot, you’ll find sylvan quietude while fishing at Paradox Lake. Some of the most commonly pulled species are yellow perch, smallmouth bass and northern pike. If you really want to get away from things, hike with rod and reel to one of the farther flung ponds in the nearby Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area. Wherever you end up angling, make sure you have a valid New York State fishing license (they can be purchased online).
Just south of Paradox Pond is the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness area, a rugged, 46,000-acre Adirondack wonderland. Rocky outcrops and peaks rise out from a thick hardwood forest dotted with ponds and marshes and criss-crossed by quiet streams. There are seventy miles of trails to enjoy, and backcountry camping opportunities abound. Those looking for a real challenge can climb Pharaoh Mountain, which offers a stunning, panoramic view of the wilderness. If you’d prefer to stick closer to the campground, you can paddle across the lake, where trailheads start for the short but scenic Peaked Hill and Peaked Hill Pond trails.
The habitats in and around Paradox are rich and diverse; bogs, marshes, ponds, boreal forests, conifer stands and even stretches of alpine are sewn together in a verdant quilt. Opportunities for seeing wildlife abound. Some of the larger inhabitants, which the Adirondacks are famed for, include black bears and moose. Deer, beavers, river otters and coyotes are also common, as are bald eagles, peregrine falcons, ospreys, blue herons and a great variety of loons and other waterfowl. In late spring and summer, you’ll no doubt hear American toads, green frogs, grey tree frogs and more calling from the banks of ponds.
The Adirondacks are a photographer’s playground, and the sylvan beauty at Lake Paradox backs this up with certitude. Capture the sun’s rays as the filter through an intensely green canopy, or snap a photo of ephemeral mist gathering over the surface of the lake. Head into the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness to find striking panoramas of green, grey and blue. There’s plenty of opportunities for wildlife photographers, too; if your reflexes are sharp, perhaps you can capture a bald eagle or osprey as it scoops a fishy meal out of the sparkling water.
Paradox Lake sits only about ten miles from the shores of Lake Champlain, one of the largest, grandest lakes in the North Woods. Using Paradox as a peaceful and convenient home base, you can partake in some of the magnificent experiences Champlain has to offer. Take a boat tour, visit historic Crown Point, Fort Ticonderoga or the Essex County Fish Hatchery, which has been breeding and releasing trout for over 90 years. There’s plenty to do just a short drive away.