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Big Tupper Lake is a perfect specimen of the natural lakes found in the Adirondack region of upstate New York. The 3,850-acre lake formed from a glacial hollow along the course of the Raquette River, with more water contributions from the Bog River. Europeans arrived to the lake area in the late 18th century to harvest timber. The lake was named after surveyor Ansel Norton Tupper who unfortunately gained his immortality by drowning in the lake while fishing. The shoreline Village of Altamont was changed to Tupper also, guaranteeing his loss will never be forgotten.
The lake is sometimes called Big Tupper Lake to delineate it from another much smaller body of water nearby, also called Tupper Lake. Indeed, a great many nearby lakes encourage visitors to the Adirondacks Park to engage in swimming, boating, fishing and nature observation. A full nine miles long, Big Tupper Lake has attached two large bays that are considered in most cases separate lakes: Simons Pond and Raquette Pond. Because some people consider them all one lake, descriptions of its size vary from 3,850 acres to as high as over 10,000 acres. New York's Department of Environmental Conservation considers the two 'pond' bays as separate lakes and states Tupper Lake at the lower figure, so we accept their authority.
Tupper Lake is little developed. The lake lies within the roughly defined Adirondack Park with much of the shoreline within the more restrictive Adirondack Park Preserve. Most of the private cottages are located along the southeastern shore not far from the Village of Tupper. Only a few cottages or 'lodges' are located on isolated sections elsewhere, and the several large islands on the lake are mostly undeveloped. Access is easy at either of the hard surface boat ramp along scenic Route 30 two miles south of the Village of Tupper in the settlement of Moody and at the Tupper Lake Municipal Park.
The municipal park site is actually on the bay called Raquette Pond and offers several dock slips. Boaters can freely travel to the larger Tupper Lake from both of the 'ponds'. Rental boats, primarily 14-foot fishing boats and small motors, are available at the marina operated by Blue Jay Campsite farther south on Route 30. Outfitters in the Village of Tupper rent canoes and kayaks, along with fishing gear and camping equipment. Isolated boat-in campsites are available on the islands and along the shore. All information on camping and necessary permits is available in the Village of Tupper. The only swimming beach designated on Tupper Lake appears to be at the same campground, but other swimming beaches are located in the Village of Tupper on Simons Pond and Raquette Pond. Tupper Lake permits water skiing, tubing and other forms of powered water sports, but many visitors are just as happy to enjoy a leisurely pontoon tour or time spent canoeing or kayaking the many large bays, coves and inlets.
Fishing is always a major draw to Big Tupper Lake. The water holds northern pike, muskie, lake trout, landlocked salmon, walleye, rainbow smelt, largemouth bass, perch and a variety of panfish. The abundance of smelt allow plenty of food for the larger sport fish to grow to trophy size. Winter doesn't stop the fishing; the annual Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby occurs every February and brings a large number of anglers to try for a prize and a trophy fish. In fact, Tupper Lake and its environs are likely just as popular in winter as in summer. Downhill skiing and snowboarding are offered at Big Tupper Ski Area, a not-for-profit ski resort near the village. There are a number of cross-country ski trails that are publicly available, along with multiple hiking trails in the warmer months. Groomed snowmobile trails crisscross the area, and a number of snowmobile clubs offer trail maps and services.
Summer brings a lot of visitors who are hiking the Adirondack Trail in this sector. A favorite activity for cyclists is to bicycle the 60-mile section of the Trail between Tupper and Malone. Those who want more luxurious accommodations will find several lodge resorts and inns in the surrounding area, along with several hotels and cottage resorts. A golf course located just south of the Village of Tupper allows golfers to engage in their favorite sport. The course is used for cross-country skiing in winter. Tupper also provides a calendar of interesting activities to engage visitors all summer long. The annual Tupper Lake Woodsmen's Days competition in July is considered the largest such event in the state. The Tupper Lake Tin Man Triathlon, now celebrating 35 years of continuous annual races, brings many athletes to run, bike and swim their way to the finish line. Five different race categories assure a race for every type of expertise.
One of Big Tupper Lake's most notable attractions is The Wild Center, also known as the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks. One of the most notable activities at The Wild Center is the Wild Walk-an elevated boardwalk trail 35 feet above the forest floor where nature lovers can get a completely different perspective on what life looks like to the birds and animals living here. The walk is loaded with unusual experiences, such as a large, constructed eagle's nest rest stop at the highest point along the Walk. Another surprising experience is the huge spider web that you can walk across. And don't forget the Snag, a giant white pine with a four-story staircase inside. Numerous exhibits and hands-on activities are of interest to children and adults alike. Although parts of the Center are closed in winter, such as the Wild Walk, multiple trails allow for nature walks and hiking year-round.
Lucky vacationers can find private cabin rentals along the shore of Big Tupper Lake. Some of the properties rented by private owners are rustic; what they lack in modern amenities, they make up for in authentic Adirondack Lodge charm. Others are luxurious and offer every amenity, including WiFi and water sports equipment. The Village of Tupper has several choices of lodgings, a variety of restaurants and entertainment possibilities that will please nearly every family member. Come at your leisure-and enjoy your leisure time as never before. Big Tupper awaits.
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