2009 Annual Guide to the Great Outdoors
The Hit List
Must-do Adirondack classics
by Annie Stoltie
[Editors' Note: This article was originally published in 2009. Some information may be outdated.]
Whether tucked in your mind or scribbled on the back of a crumpled receipt, most folks have a must-do list—someday-plans to, say, salute the heavens atop Bali’s Mount Agung or finish a marathon or enroll in a sculpting class at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, in Paris, or pose nude for said sculpting class. But what about adding a subset to that master roster, a checklist of do-before-you-die Adirondack activities? Following are classic ways to experience this place, though with millions of acres at your disposal you could paper suggestions from one end of the 132-mile Northville-Placid Trail to the other.
Row a guideboat. Tupper Lake guideboat builder Rob Frenette says you can see, test and covet antique or shiny-new models of these traditional craft at the Willard Hanmer Guideboat Race and parade on Lake Flower, in Saranac Lake. This year’s event is July 5th.
See a Great Camp. Adirondack Architectural Heritage executive director Steven Engelhart recommends Camp Santanoni, in Newcomb, because it has everything you’d expect of these quintessential landmarks: rustic buildings; secluded, lakeside setting; and a compelling history.
Visit a waterfall. Adirondack Waterfall Guide author Russell Dunn suggests picturesque Beaver Meadow Falls and colossal Rainbow Falls, both in Essex County and on tributaries that flow into the East Branch of the Ausable River. Just a mile apart, they can be appreciated from their bases—where you’ll get the best view, says Dunn—during one hike.
Sleep in a lean-to. For the ultimate snooze in one of these iconic structures, central Adirondacks–based New York State Forest Ranger Greg George offers what he calls nice, remote sites at John Pond in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area, near Indian Lake, and Cascade Pond, off the Northville-Placid Trail, near Blue Mountain Lake.
Climb a fire tower. Marty Podskoch, who wrote Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore, The Northern Districts and The Southern Districts, gives a quartet of must-see structures: the restored one atop Bald Mountain, in Old Forge, which is accessible via a fairly easy trek; Hadley Mountain’s tower, near Lake Luzerne, where you can consult an interpretive guide; in Newcomb, Goodnow Mountain’s allows a spectacular scene of area peaks; and the sky cab on Snowy Mountain, near Indian Lake, is where, a hundred years ago, one of the Adirondacks’ first fire-tower observers was stationed to spot backwoods blazes.
Tote a pack basket. Old-school guides used these carryalls because they’re comfortable, durable and roomy. Marcia Waligory, of West Martinsburg, in Lewis County, weaves and sells the potbellied baskets at www.adirondackpackbaskets.com. Transport a picnic, an infant, a pet in one of these packs.
Paddle a motorless lake. Peter Hornbeck, of Hornbeck Boats, in Olmstedville, lists Lake Lila and Henderson Lake as his top picks. The former for its sheer beauty, with sandy beaches, islands and gorgeous views; the latter because of its “awesome” High Peaks vistas.
Explore a new state land acquisition. Though unofficially open to the public for years under Domtar Industries’ ownership, Lyon Mountain, in Clinton County—with 14,400 acres for hiking, hunting and skiing and a new trail to its summit—is now a public resource, according to the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy’s Connie Prickett.
Hike one of the 46 highest peaks. Phil Corell, treasurer of the Adirondack 46ers—he’s hiked 21 rounds of the 46, plus five circuits in winter—suggests Gothics and Colden. He says their open rock summits and central locale in the High Peaks Wilderness Area offer unobstructed views of surrounding mountains.
Sip an Adirondack cocktail while watching the sunset from an Adirondack chair. Recipe for an Adirondack, from A. S. Crockett’s 1935 The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book: 2 oz. gin 2 oz. orange juice Pour the gin into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Top with orange juice.