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West Caroga Lake brushes up against the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. The 319-acre freshwater lake has become a year-round destination in eastern New York's Capital-Saratoga tourism region. Fishing in the warmer months is a big draw and when winter rolls around and the lake is capped with a three-foot sheet of ice, snowmobiling, skiing and ice fishing take center stage.
West Caroga Lake is one of 44 lakes in Fulton County. Several of those lakes surround the small town of Caroga, which sits between West Caroga and East Caroga Lakes. The two bodies of water are joined by a channel that is navigable by boat. A number of other lakes are located less than a half-hour drive away.
Native Americans used to live in the area and named it Caroga, which means "by the streams or water-ways." Later, those same creeks, streams and lakes drew settlers to the area. In the early years, logging, hunting and tanning pelts sustained the economy but now, tourism is more important.
Taking in the natural beauty of the area while fishing West Caroga Lake has always helped anglers reel in big catches. The reflection of the mountains on the water while fishing for one of the many varieties of fish West Caroga Lake has to offer is irresistible to folks who enjoy the outdoors. Lake whitefish, rainbow smelt, smallmouth bass, Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout and yellow perch all make their home in West Caroga Lake.
The Caroga Lake New York State Campgrounds are open from mid-May through Labor Day. Many of the camp sites allow you to take in beautiful mountain and lake views from your tent or RV. The grounds boast 161 tent and trailer sites, bathhouses, boat launch, beach, boat rentals and picnic facilities.
Pack your clubs and wildest golf shirt. The Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course is a par-70 course in Caroga just minutes from the campground. Hitting the links is a treat made sweeter by the stunning views courtesy of the Adirondack Mountains.
Hiking is a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Some trails to trek include Kane Mountain Trail, Willie Marsh Trail, Hamilton Mountain Fire Tower trail and the Nine Corner Lake Trail. The trails offer views of mountain ridges and even some lake vistas of West Caroga Lake.
In the fall, the skyline turns into a sea of bright red, orange and yellow foliage and visitors come to drink in the colors of the season. Hunters come in search of big game, migratory fowl and furbearer hunting and trapping. Check with the NY Department of Environmental Conservation for dates and regulations.
With winter comes an average of 12 feet of snow. Nearby mountain resorts are popular for downhill skiing. Cross-country skiing is widespread around Caroga and snowmobile races are common for those who enjoy a faster pace. In January, ice fishing huts pop up on West Caroga Lake like daisies in the springtime.
The town of Caroga has around 1400 year-round residents and that number more than doubles in the summer. The little resort town does not have a host of hotels; vacation rentals on West Caroga Lake are in the form of private homes or cabins for rent. Hotels are available in the cities of Johnstown and Gloversville.
The Caroga Historical Association and Museum and the Adirondack Museum of Blue Mountain Lake offer a glimpse into the area's past. There are exhibits depicting pioneer life and the area's role in the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars.
West Caroga Lake is surrounded by New York State's Adirondack State Park. The park is a six million-acre preserve created in 1892 to protect the region's forest land. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation operates several campgrounds in the park. There are also more than 2000 miles of trails and designated areas for canoeing, hunting, fishing, trapping, snowmobiling, skiing, mountain biking, and rock climbing.
West Caroga Lake and the surrounding area offer year round entertainment. Whether you chose to enjoy the lake from the deck of one of numerous lakeside cabins or take in the natural beauty by doing one of countless outdoor activities, West Caroga Lake is a destination worth reaching.
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