We had heard that Indian Lake was quite busy this winter with snowmobilers aplenty. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it to our itinerary until now, mid-May. After driving through town several times looking for The Bear Trap Inn, we concluded that May might not be the best time to visit Indian Lake. We stopped at the Indian Lake Restaurant and Tavern to ask for directions, stayed long enough to gather intel for a review, and went on our way. We just hadn’t driven far enough through town.
The Bear Trap Inn had been recommended to us by several people we’ve met while doing our reviews elsewhere. As we entered the tavern, Pam had two thoughts; “My, how little!” and “I’ve been here before.” The main tavern was about 10′ x 12′, but there was obviously more seating in an adjacent room. The bar seated about 10 to 12 people, but there were also a few stools and a small bar on the wall as well. Not wanting to be away from the “action”, we found one empty seat at the bar. It was only a few minutes before people started shuffling to seat us both. Pam jokingly said to the bartender, “I’ll have a frozen margarita!” She flashed a playful grin and asked for a vodka and grapefruit instead. We were obviously strangers a little early for tourist season, and we felt a sense of curiosity buzzing in the air.
Kim engaged someone next to her in conversation and Pam looked to the man on her left. There was something familiar about him and her mind raced for the connection. She recalled a man in North Creek, at The Barking Spider, many months ago who had told us about the snowmobile activity in Indian Lake, and who had suggested we visit The Bear Trap. He had also mentioned that he owned the Adirondack Trail Motel across from the Bear Trap.
Pam decided to go for it, and suggested that they had met before in North Creek. He didn’t recall immediately, until she mentioned “Happy Hour in the High Peaks”. It’s a small bar, so others took in the news as well. The mood changed much like the Group W Bench verse in Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant – they all moved back over on the bench. We were in, and the conversations came from all directions. Our cards were circulated and everyone seemed to have a story to tell. So many stories were fired at us at once, it was difficult to take notes, so we have only memory to go on.
Kim spent quite awhile talking to the woman next to her. Patty has worked for years in bars all over the area and offered suggestions as to where we should go and where we should not. She was very interested in what we were doing and mentioned that the Bear Trap had been visited by someone writing about restaurants in the Adirondacks.
When we mentioned where we were from, Pam’s long lost friend, Al, asked if we knew his motel manager, Martha, who came from the same town. Pam thought she was someone she had met through her mother. Well, didn’t Martha show up sometime later only to confirm that they knew each other many years back. We met her granddaughter who was absolutely charming.
It was getting to be time to go so Pam quickly whipped out her “official” questionnaire and started asking some factual questions from the bartender. How long has this bar been in business? After taking in input from all around, we narrowed it down to the 1950’s. How long has the current owner been in business? I believe that question settled on “since the 1970s”. They are open year-round, seven days per week. They sometimes have private parties, but the public is invited as well. Every hour is happy hour and every drink is “special”. Of the two bars in Indian Lake, the Bear Trap is the latest bar open. They occasionally have live entertainment, typically for parties.
In the two hours we were there, the population swelled from eight to about twenty, becoming a little cramped and noisy. The Bear Trap seems to cater to bikers, snowmobilers and hunters, though we felt quite welcome. One man, whose name we didn’t catch, was a wealth of information regarding the ownership history of the place. He also recommended we track down a guy named Jerry, a locally notorious bar historian and musician who has played in every bar in town (both of them?).
Just before leaving, Pam recalled something unique to the bar that confirmed that, yes, she had been there before. The Bear Trap is definitely a local bar, and we aren’t sure they would want us to be sending new people to them, but we had such a warm reception that we have mixed emotions. We would suggest that our readers might have an interesting time if they mentioned that they heard of them through Happy Hour in the High Peaks.
Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog.