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Fantastic Fall Bike Trips

Photograph by L.E. Baskow/Left Eye Images

Bicycling the Adirondack Park’s less-traveled roads this season could be the best way to immerse yourself in fall foliage and spectacular scenery. An added bonus is fresh, smooth pavement through many hamlets as of last summer. Route 28N—formerly an obstacle course of deep ruts, cratered potholes and permanent frost heaves—is now a superb surface, especially approaching and departing Newcomb. Route 30 around Lake Clear had a recent makeover as well, and the county road leading to Forked Lake from Deerland, just south of Long Lake, boasts new macadam too.

Local cyclists share this kind of information among themselves, and you can get more tips and trips from local shops, tourism departments and the Lake Champlain Bikeways, which includes more than 30 loop routes and covers about 1,300 miles.

Doug Haney, who is co-managing Cycle Adirondacks for next summer, offers a pair of fun rides that provide a great sample of the 500-mile journey:

Saranac Lake-Lake Clear-Paul Smiths-Gabriels-Saranac Lake (ride clockwise)
Map: http://goo.gl/maps/FJQ9z

Highlights
•    Mostly rolling terrain with a few steep climbs
•    Forest, lake, river, bog and mountain views
•    Great potential for wildlife viewing
•    New pavement on most sections
•    Light traffic on Forest Home Road and Route 30, wide shoulder on most of Route 86

Options:
•    SHORT: Make a right on McMaster Rd from Forest Home and return to Saranac Lake via Rte 186 then 86. Total distance 20 miles.
•    LONGER: Make a left on Jones Pond Road from Rte 86 after Paul Smiths and return via a 10-mile section around Jones Pond, then back to Route 86 via the Gabriels-Onchiota Road. Total distance 35 miles.
•    LONGER STILL: Instead of returning to Rte 86 from the above segment, make a left on the Gabriels-Onchiota Road and continue on to Rainbow Lake, where you’ll turn right on the Oregon Plains Road and continue on that until Bloomingdale. In Bloomingdale you return to Saranac Lake via Rte 3. Total distance 40 miles.

Old Forge-Inlet-Big Moose Station-Inlet-Eagle Bay-Old Forge
Map: http://goo.gl/maps/NKRfX

Highlights
•    Very mellow terrain with only short climbs
•    Mostly low traffic roads with the exception of Rte 28
•    Mountain, lake, river and forest views
•    Great potential to see wildlife

Options
•    You can simply return to Old Forge via Rte 28 after pedaling the South Shore Road to Inlet. Distance is 20 miles.
If you go up to Big Moose Station:
•    Return via an out-and-back on Big Moose Rd. Total distance 38 miles.
•    With a reservation on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad you can return to Thendara/Old Forge on the train.

Haney is one of the folks behind Cycle Adirondacks, sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a fully supported all-inclusive trek, the first of its kind to truly explore the park from the lake country to the mountains. The week-long tour covers terrain from Star Lake to Saranac Lake and Old Forge to Long Lake in sections of 50 to 75 miles. Cyclists camp in small towns, where there are mobile showers, hot tubs and even massage therapists to work on sore muscles. After group dinners experts talk about the park’s wilderness and wildlife. There’s a mobile beer garden at the overnights too.

Haney, who has lived in the Adirondacks since 2001 and had worked in media relations for U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, says the August 23-29, 2015 tour as a terrific way to really experience the Adirondacks, seeing the variety of “landscapes, watersheds, quaint small towns and wildlife.”

“Every segment of the ride,” he explains, “tells a story about the Adirondacks, whether it’s logging, farming or ecology. On a bike you really connect with the terrain and the communities.”

The route came about thanks to suggestions from local cyclists and shops who shared their favorite rides. In September, Haney, Cycle Adirondacks co-manager Matt Van Slyke, WCS landscape coordinator Zoe Smith and six others took a test run, pedaling the entire route. The verdict: glorious!

Learn more at Cycle Adirondacks or on their Facebook page, with a gallery of photos from the September preview of the route.

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