Saranac Lake's prominence as a cultural hub within the Adirondacks is rooted in its rich, and sometimes wild, history. Surrounded by vast wilderness, the region began attracting outdoorsmen in the mid-1800s. Hunters would stay in comfortable cabins and pay local guides to help them navigate the region. In the late 1800s, a visiting Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau discovered that the town's fresh mountain air helped soothe the symptoms of Tuberculosis. This led to a town-wide transformation as local homes were converted into "cure cottages" and the Trudeau Sanatorium was built, bringing hundreds of patients, their visitors, and new workers to the region.
All of a sudden, Saranac Lake was prospering. The town's new-found affluence attracted the interest of wealthy families who saw the opportunity to enjoy unsullied nature without sacrificing the conveniences of a modern town. A few of these families purchased huge tracts of land on which they built lavish private camps, known as Great Camps, where they hosted and entertained family, friends, and affluent guests. Before long, Saranac Lake was a coveted vacation destination for presidents, film stars, and billionaire business men alike. In addition to their wealth, these Great Camp families and their visitors brought with them arts and culture befitting of their financial status.
While few of the Great Camps are still in use today, the arts and culture offerings in Saranac Lake are stronger than ever. Art galleries line the main and side streets of downtown, displaying medium-spanning artwork from local and regional artists. Classes are available at Blue Seed Studio for those who wish to hone their own talents, and dance classes are available for all ages at the Dance Sanctuary. The Pendragon Theater puts on several plays and musicals each year, and hosts a wide range of traveling productions and musical artists. Live music is often found in local bars and restaurants, and the Berkeley Green hosts musical acts every Wednesday in the summer.
Saranac Lake is surrounded by mountains, making it a haven for hikers in all seasons. To satisfy adventure-hungry outdoorsmen and women, Saranac Lake created the Saranac 6er challenge. Inspired by the 46er challenge in the Adirondack High Peaks, this beginner and family-friendly version tackles six mountains under 4,000 feet surrounding Saranac Lake. Difficulty and distance range from 2,452-foot Baker to 3,822-foot McKenzie, so you can dive right in or slowly work your way up to the higher peaks.
Once you've hiked all six, you will be dubbed a Saranac 6er and can ring the victory bell in Saranac Lake's Berkeley Green gazebo. If you submit proof of your summits to the Village, they'll even send you a 6er patch and sticker and add your name to the official Saranac 6er Member Roster! Looking for an even bigger challenge? Hike all six mountains in the winter months to become a Winter 6er, or tackle them all in a single day to earn the impressive title of an Ultra-6er!