Once a playground for Northeastern aristocrats, the Adirondack Mountain region in upstate New York is now more of a travel destination for the outdoorsman looking for an experience including remote camping, hiking and the like. Luckily, one of the relics of the Adirondacks has been preserved to a mystical degree and avails itself to the modern traveler looking for a more luxurious outdoor experience. At the end of a two-mile gravel road in an area called Moose River Plains sits Lake Kora, a private resort that was once one of the most distinguished Great Camps of the Adirondacks.
Originally constructed in the late 1800s by New York Lieutenant Governor Timothy Woodruff, the site still has all of the original trappings of a prosperous vacation home in the early 20th century. Lake Kora is an especially unique Adirondacks property not only because of its great history, but also because it brings together the best aspects of nature and a luxury retreat. Since the property is only available for takeovers, it is essentially the ultimate summer camp. Lake Kora has a minimum stay of four nights and sleeps from 14 to 34 people, making it ideal for a multigenerational family or a large group of friends looking to get outdoors without sacrificing comfortable accommodations and delicious dining.
Owner Mark Palmer purchased the property in 2005 and only recently has made it available to the general public. Palmer’s attention to detail is evident throughout the camp and the curated, authentic experience makes it clear that Lake Kora is a passion project for Mark and his family. It is the second of just two stunning properties in the Annandale portfolio, a brand (its other property is in New Zealand’s South Island) whose hallmarks are natural beauty and an atmospheric guest experience.
Examples of this intrinsically caring nature abound, including the amenities—many of which have been preserved in their original form. A century-old bowling alley, complete with a pulley system to re-rack pins and a wooden ball-return system sits in the “Playhouse,” which also features a re-creation of an English Pub, a squash court, ping pong and media room (one of the many modern additions).
The site has no shortage of lake and land leisure activities that include, but are not limited to: hiking, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing, windsurfing, fishing, tennis and roller hockey. There are also comfortable hammocks and Adirondack chairs around the property perfect for reading and relaxing or simply taking in the spectacular views.
What is most impressive about Lake Kora, though, is the combination of history and modern comforts that harmoniously exist. While checking into your cabin and walking the grounds, the estate transports you to a different era—and somehow, this dream is not broken by the fact that you can connect to WiFi in most areas. Guests can also find this whimsical balance in the former Ice and Meat Houses, which look just as they did in the early 20th century, but now house a sauna and whirlpool.
The many cabins exude distinct vibes. While the centrally located Treehouse exemplifies the grand, old Adirondacks spirit of the property, the Gardner’s cottage is a secluded, airy and loft-style cabin. Most notable is the Island House—a three-bedroom cabin that sits shaded by trees on an island in the middle of the lake. It is reachable only by boat.
Rounding out a guest’s experience is the first class cuisine. The meal schedule and style is completely customizable and can vary from upscale tasting menus in the candlelit main dining room to family-style barbecues in the boathouse on the lake.
It is difficult to leave a place that elicits such wonder from guests of all stripes, especially when there so many memories created by the communal nature of the property. But it is assuring to know there are still places whose true identity has been maintained for all this time.
Lake Kora is a 5 hour drive from New York City. The Adirondack regional airport, Saranac, is a one-hour drive away. The easiest arrival is by helicopter, approximately 1 hour from New York City.
Who Should Stay
Multi-generational families or groups of friends looking to experience the most enjoyable parts of nature.
When to Go
Lake Kora is only open from July to October, the perfect time to enjoy the best of summer or early fall weather.