The Adirondack Park is a SIX million acre park up in the north of the state of New York, a 5-hour drive from the Big Apple. The park covers more land than Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon combined.
The Adirondacks are well known in the US and they’re a favoured place for summer homes and activity holidays. I’d never actually heard of the place before I was invited by the local tourist boards to check it out – I didn’t even know how to say it until I got there (Ada-RON-dacks) – but the boards had an inkling I’d like it…
What are the Adirondacks like?
– View out to Long Lake
Driving around the Adirondacks the landscape of lush forest and fields is permeated by wooden houses, Amish horse and carts and bustling towns filled with traditional, unique buildings and signs. Rugged mountains give into lakes and lakes give into rolling farmlands. In winter this ‘Almost Canada’ as some people call it – ‘New York’ is too emotive of the city – the snow-covered landscape means you wouldn’t know where one country ends and the other begins.
– BBQ’s at Long Lake
After spending the last few months in the cities of Europe it felt like I’d travelled back in time as I drove past roadside stalls selling jam made by the Amish, huts with honesty boxes for wood, others for sweetcorn, but then a few miles on and there was Walmart (I bought some Yankees flip flops), Applebees and Starbucks. In between there were motels that looked straight from the movies, farmer’s markets (one stall had over 30 varieties of peanut butter) and fancy deli shops selling all the gluten free, vegan, raw food produce you could ask for.
– View from the hike up Mount Arab
There are more than 100 towns and villages in the ‘Adirondacks’, including Lake Placid, Tupper Lake, Long Lake and Saranac to name a few. Within the Adirondacks there are more than 2,800 lakes and ponds, over 30,000 miles of streams and rivers and 42 mountain peaks greater than 4000 feet in elevation. It’s an exciting, activity-fuelled wilderness.
Hiking, fishing, skiing and canoeing
– Hiking round Lake Champlain
If you live in the Adirondacks chances are you’ll enjoy at least half of the above, or your social life will be pretty limited. Life in the Adirondacks is an active one, within a few miles radius of wherever you are you’ll find the terrain for all four. Cars on the roads had all kinds of equipment strapped to the top and back and the well routed cycle paths were tempting for this amateur cyclist. I’d imagine it would be difficult to be stationary if you lived here, with so much to do on your doorstep.
– View out to Lake Champlain
The untouched wilderness and verdant meadows of the Adirondacks have created the perfect landscape for hiking. There are trails for everyone of all abilities, starting from 1 mile upwards. There’s even a 46 Peaks challenge where if you complete all 46 of the highest peaks you can become a locally renowned ’46er’ and revel in the glory.
The Ausable River has some of the best trophy trout fishing in the world – although the group I was in didn’t actually manage to catch a thing. And canoeing has been popular in the area since before time began, or thereabouts. Being August I didn’t manage to try the ski, but from the photos and stories the Adirondacks look like a perfect place to get some powder once the winter sets in.
Micro Breweries and Wineries
– At the Raquette Micro Brewery
The Adirondacks also has a burgeoning winery and brewery scene, which of course I appreciated. There are so many entrepreneurs setting up outlets for their creativity. I managed to fit in 3 microbreweries and 2 wineries, all of which will be recommended and reviewed over the next few weeks, but I spotted plenty more as I went around. Just another reason to go back.
– Craig from stayadventurous.com skimming stones at Lake Champlain
The weather in the Adirondacks is pretty ‘haphazard’. One minute you’re looking at a bright sunny day, and the next the sky’s gone grey and it’s chucking it down, 15 minutes later and it could all change again. If I was a sensitive soul, and believed I could have the power over such things, I’d say that every time I got in a boat, the rain began.
On the bright side this has led to a lush, green landscape characterised by a lot of wood. As our driver said:
‘The Adirondacks has its issues, but wood ain’t one’.
Why the Adirondacks?
I feel like the Adirondacks are an undiscovered beauty for the rest of the world, at least the UK anyway. I don’t know anyone who’s been before. A holiday do the Adirondacks would be great in itself, but with New York City so close and Montreal just over the border – there’s no reason why you can’t combine the three into one awesome two-week trip.
Loads more Adirondacks inspiration on it’s way!