The information center is located at the Adirondack Loj. There is parking for trail access to the Eastern High Peaks section. Inside the center there is a small store with essential items such as maps and some camping equipment. They also post information about trail access and closures as well as weather forecast. You can also rent a bear canister if you do not have one. They cost $5. If you do not have one, they are required for over night camping. So be sure to pick one up.
To enter and park in the area it cost $10.00 per day. The rate for 5-7 days is $40.
Seventh and Eighth Lakes are the final (easternmost) of the Fulton Chain of Lakes, a 16-mile long series of eight connected lakes of various sizes. Both are decently large; the easiest public access to both of them is at the Eighth Lake Campground, which requires a day use fee. Spaced a mile apart, its possible to drive to the shores of both lakes. Seventh Lake has a dock at its eastern end, from where it's possible to watch sunsets or fish; two low mountains stick above the forest. Eighth Lake is surrounded on both side by low mountains, and has a public swimming area as well as a dock. The water's quite cold, but also refreshing. It's possible to canoe on both lakes; the campground area rents canoes for $20 a half-day, I believe. A nearby trail leads to Bug Lake, an area we didn't get time to explore.
Big Moose Lake is a large lake a few miles away from Inlet and Old Forge. We didn't see much while we were there, mainly because it was raining quite heavily. There's also very few public access spots to the lakeshoe. The road leading to the lake passes numerous trailheads, including ones leading to Moss Lake and Cascade Lake. At Moose Lake itself, there is a beautiful chapel on its western end, as well as the town of Glenmore on Glenmore Rd. At the end of Glenmore Road is a limited view of the lake (the lakeshore is on private property), but there is a sign that identifies the original Glenmore Hotel. In July 1906, Chester Gillete murdered Grace Brown while canoeing on this lake, an event that inspired Theodore's Dreiser's book on the death of Roberta Alden, An American Tragedy, which adds a little (tainted) history to the otherwise pretty area.
Inlet is a small town with a rustic character not far from Old Forge. There's not too much to see here; there's access to Fourth Lake, and Fifth Lake is a tiny pond just further down the road; there are some character-filled gift shops, like Finders Keepers; A good gelato and ice cream place, Northern Lights; and a good information center next to the town halls, where you can find information on hiking and outdoor activities. Just northwest of town are the trailheads for Rocky Mt and Black Bear Mt; we didn't hike either, since a planned Rocky Mt. hike was rained out.
Limekiln Lake is a pretty and sizable lake just south of Inlet. This area is known for it's bears, which supposedly can often be seen in the campground (We didn't see any). The main access to the lake is through the state campground, which charges a day use fee; there is a boat launch on the lake, as well as a swimming area with a lifeguard. The weather wasn't very great while we were there, but that only added a special element, making the lakeshore forests seem almost magical when shrouded in mist and rain.
One of the most popular hikes in the Old Forge area is the short hike up Rondaxe (or Bald) Mountain, which is just four miles east of the town. You're likely to meet plenty of people on this trail, so don't expect solitude.
From the trailhead, the trail winds through woods with a gradual uphill for about 1/3 of a mile before it reaches a steeper, rockier slope. From atop that slope, the trail follows the rocky ridge, with occasional views to the south of the Fulton Chain of Lakes. There are numerous red DEC trail markers along the trails, so it's hard to get lost. A mile from the trailhead, the trail comes out on the summit of Rondaxe (Bald) Mt, 2300 some feet above sea level. A flight of stairs takes you to the top of the fire tower, which was originally used by rangers; from atop the tower there is a 360-degree view of the Adirondacks. A table with a map can help you identify much of the area.
The view includes much of First, Second, Third, and Fourth Lakes, the town of Inlet, and two tall peaks in the distance: 3700-foot Blue Mountain and 3900-foot Snowy Mountain.
Old Forge is a bit of tourist trap, and really isn't that worth visiting. There are no mountain views from the town; its surrounded by forest. The town lies on the west end of First Lake, the first of the Fulton Chain. There is a good visitor information center near the lakeshore that provides information on hiking/other outdoor activies. There's also the Enchanted Forest, a touristy water park that really doesn't belong in the park. There's a marina; a small swimming area in First Lake; and three fast food places. Instead of spending too much time in the area, its best to keep driving, towards Rondaxe Mountain, Inlet, and Blue Mountain Lake.
For a day-trip, a wonderful route is the Seven Carries. This is a 9-mile route withseven carries — all are short; the longest is just over a half-mile in length.
The Seven Carries route requires two cars to set up a shuttle: One at the south end of the paddle near the Lake Clear Fish Hatchery, the other either at the public access at the south end of Upper St. Regis Lake or at the public launch at Paul Smith's College on Lower St. Regis Lake.
Traditionally, the Seven Carries started on Little Green Pond; where there was a wagon that long ago ran from Saranac Inn. But you may start on Little Clear Pond, although it can be windy and wavy, but the towering "king's trees" are beautiful!
The other shortest carry takes you into Upper St. Regis Lake, home of the Idem, a beautiful sailboat designed around the turn of the century exclusively for racing on this lake. On Upper St. Regis Lake, you can either go into the southernmost bay to conclude the trip or paddle north and east toward Spitfire Lake, Lower St. Regis Lake, and eventually, Paul Smith's College. St. Regis Mountain is prominently visible from much of this route!
Lake Placid is the best known village in the High Peaks region, and is now an all-seasons resort town. Although there are the tourist traps, the town's surroundings (sort of an alpine decor) and the ski jumps (which you can ride to the top for the truly scary views!) are worthwhile experiences.
Keep in mind that both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics were held here, and you can learn about both these events at the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum.
The best drive is the gorgeous Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway, in Wilmington, at the intersection of Routes 86 and 431.
The highway goes 8 miles up Whiteface Mountain, the fifth-highest mountain in the Adirondacks. The last five or so miles are amazing, as you travel through a forest to the alpine-like environment at the summit.
Leave your car in the summit parking lot and take a short hike up a stone staircase to the top, or hop on the mountain's own elevator, which gives you a 360-degree view as you ascend.
Check out the cheesy North Pole on the way up or down if you have children. It's like something off Route 66. Get your postcards stamped with a North Pole postal stamp!
Mt. Marcy in the northern Adirondacks is the highest peak in the state of New York. Hiking to the top of Marcy a quick walk in the woods.
The first ascent was made in 1837. Although technically not the most challenging hike, be prepared to spend a majority of the day on the trail. Hiking back and forth in one day can be accomplished with the 7 mile Van Hoevenberg Trail on the north side. At 7 miles to the summit from the parking lot of the Adirondack Loj, which is a nine-mile drive from Lake Placid Village, the trail head is accessible and convenient.
The first 2 miles of the Van Hoevenberg trail provides flat cruising on soft ground that enables you to pick up some good steam and get your breathing going that can enable you to catch a smooth rhythm. After 2 miles you come to the rest stop of all rest stops, Marcy Dam.
From here it’s all sweat and uphill tenacity to the top of Phelps Mountain which lies next to Marcy. Basically on the Van Hoevenberg trail, you aren’t climbing Marcy from top to bottom, you’re climbing Mt. Phelps and then crossing over. There are trails that scale Marcy from top to bottom, but be prepared to make it a two-day event if you choose that route.
Climbing uphill for the next 3.5 to 4 miles is mostly within the trees without any views that are worth stopping for. It’s all about keeping the momentum going and imagining the rewarding views once you finally make it above the tree line.
Once you summit Mt. Phelps, the summit of Mt. Marcy proudly stares you in the face. From this point on, it’s all above tree line as hikers scale the rock face leading up to the summit. This is perhaps the most exciting and rewarding part of the hike as the summit is within sight, but yet you are exasperating every last inch of energy to reach the top.
Mt. Marcy is a great day hike that tests your stamina, desire and conditioning. You need no technical climbing skills to accomplish it in the summer.
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Not far from our house, we discovered an amazing Great Camp, dating to the turn-of the century. It is White Pine Camp and was recently bought by a private owner who is trying to renovate the stately old camp to its glory days! For a price of about $15 a person, you'll get a 2-hour tour of this estate and all its cabins and lodges. The setting is gorgeous, nestled among the pine trees on the shore of Osgood Pond.
The history? It was owned originally by Archibald White who invited President Calvin Coolidge to spend the summer there on a working holiday in 1926. There are a number of old photos from that time, as well as a bunch of amazing architectural details: the bowling cabine, for one; the island tea house; the boathouse; the library; the dining hall; the seamstress' cabin (yes, in those days there was a live-in seasmtress to fix the torn hems of all the women's dresses after a day of hiking and canoeing); and all the lovely sleeping cottages. Don't miss the tennis court and tennis house, which has apparently been used as a backdrop in a bunch of commercials nad ads (and it is really beautiful).
This is a great way to spend a morning and is completely worth the steep admission price, since you can get to understand so much about the way of life that made this region famous!
You can actually rent your own summer cabine, a week at a time, at White Pine Camp (see also Hotels and Accommodations)
This is a little bit touristy, but only because of the gift shop at the start and rather steep price to view a very scenic spot. Part of me wants to list this as a tourist trap, therefore, but another part tells me to keep it here. I'll opt for the latter, since it's a fun thing to do on a cloudy day and it's close enough to Lake Placid and nearby attractions to justify a quick sidetrip.
Great Falls Gorge is a part of the Ausable River that tumbles through rock chasms and flumes in a series (they claim 700) of waterfalls. A network of small walkways and bridges allow the visitor to traverse the chasm several times. It's a fun outing and kids are guaranteed to love running around the precipes and paths.
Also, at the end, kids can pan for minerals or fossils in a mini-sluice, made up to look like an old-fashioned mine. This was only an additional $5, which did not seem like that much, especially after paying more than $10 for adults and $5 for kids, to get in the Gorge itself.
Hiking Mt. Washington is a great experience, but if you have little time or little legs, driving up is a great adventure, too! Go straight up Route 86 until it becomes the Veterans Memorial Highway and pay your entrance fee (about $5 per person) to drive to the top. At the top, you can walk the half mile to the summit or take a 90 second elevator ride through 270 feet of rock to the summit. Either way offers amazing views of the High Peaks region. On a clear day you can see all the way to Montreal in the north. You will also have gorgeous views of Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, where the Winter Olympics were held twice. You can scramble all around the exposed rocks on the summit, taking photos and viewing the landscape. Helpful rangers are always nearby to answer questions. It's not cheap, but definitely worth the price.
The Wild Place is a brand new museum where the "wild world" of the Adirondacks is featured. It's literally been open only a few weeks as of this tip (July 2006) and is a great place to visit. Every day the Wild Center staff offer special and different guided hikes on the Museum's campus trails and there are feeding and activity schedules for the animals. The Daily Explorer available at the front desk shows each day's schedules, printed that morning. Trails lead to walkways and overlooks on the Racquette River, and over the Museum's Blue Pond. There are trails through a succession forest, and all trails are interpreted, with labels updated based on changes taking place in the natural world. The main exhibit hall follows the course of an Adirondack river from a marsh to its source at the summit of a High Peak. At each level except the summit there are live animals on exhibit. Ecosystems include bogs, forests, streams and rivers. The Museum even offers snowshoes for its students to use, so that trails can be interpreted year round! Basically, the museum is a super resource for either grownups or children, since it gives such an excellent overview of the region nad is beautifully built. There can also be alot of "iffy" weather days in this region, so make a list of things to do in all weather.