Lake Placid – It used to be that people in Upstate New York who live and play in the Adirondack Mountains had this massive, yet beautiful park all to themselves. But as the years have passed, this part of the state could no longer be kept a secret.
The Adirondacks, a massif that’s over five million years old, have become one of the most attractive regions in the nation to frequent, whether for vacation or relocation. There has always been a mystique about these 46 rugged mountains that attract hikers, bikers and climbers. They stand in sharp contrast to the New York City skyscrapers, yet many of those metro area occupants, in their down time, are pulled to the allure of what is known as the Adirondack Park.
Roughly 160 miles in diameter and one mile high, New York’s Adirondack Park, within the Adirondack Mountains, contains more than 3,000 lakes and 8,000 ponds, and over 1,500 miles of rivers, fed by an estimated 30,000 miles of brooks and streams. So expansive is this “park” that it is bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon National Park, Everglades National Park and Glacier National Park combined.
The Adirondack Park, which is governed by a state agency (APA) based five miles from Lake Placid in Ray Brook, encompasses six million acres. Roughly half belongs to the residents of New York and is protected by the state’s Forever Wild Forest Preserve, a constitutional clause dating back to 1894. This is why, for instance, there are no hotels, homes or condos on Whiteface Mountain. The ski and ride center belongs to the state. Its forever wild status will keep such developments away from the slopes, hence no ski in/ski out access. It’s this sense of ruggedness, the idea that one is going on a safari of sorts to enjoy the Adirondack outdoors, that brings visitors here.
How can you enjoy this neck of the Northern woods? Let us count the ways. Hiking is the number one activity in the area. The beauty of this comes in the fact that you can hike from an hour to an entire day, on trails that are easy and gentle, all the way to Mount Marcy. That’s the state’s highest peak at 5,344 feet elevation.
The Adirondacks also offer some of the best fishing streams in the nation. Go it alone or hire top notch guides such as Gary Marchuk. He knows where to find the good bite in every nook and cranny of Upstate New York.
Swim and paddle our lakes, negotiate our golf courses cut through the pine, pound tennis balls against our mountain backdrop, bike your way through the woods or on quite roadways, go glamping, and of course, enjoy some of the east’s best skiing, snowboarding, skating and snow shoeing. All of it is right here, and not just for us humans. Dogs enjoy our waters and clean air just as much so make sure to bring ALL members of the family.
Over the years, an iconic symbol has emerged that depicts all of this. That representation is the Adirondack chair. Driving around the park, observers will see these chairs in various sizes from those appropriate for people of normal build, to oversized chairs befitting a cartoonish gargantuan. It’s the latter that draws the most photos!
According to TheBestAdirondackChair.com, the history behind this time-honored piece of furniture dates back some 120 years and can be found in Westport, about 40 minutes from Lake Placid on Lake Champlain. In 1903, Westport resident Thomas Lee was looking to outfit his country cottage. Lee enlisted the help of another local, Henry Bunnell, a carpenter who recognized a good thing when he saw it. Not only did Bunnell help his friend, but he also patented the concept that evolved into the Adirondack chair.
“The Adirondack chair has become remarkably popular,” says the website. “This is no surprise….they are unpretentious and can be right at home in a rustic cabin, but they are also chic enough to belong on the porch of a Hamptons-style estate.” Travel outside New York and there is a good chance you will eventually come upon one.
Finally, here are some interesting facts about the Adirondacks we call home:
–The Adirondack Park is about the same size as the state of Vermont,
–The word “Adirondack” has an Indian origin meaning “barkeater”,
–Iroquois, Mohawk and Oneida peoples have historically been synonymous with the Adirondacks,
–The moose has been closely aligned with the Adirondacks as its animal of choice, but the loon is commonly seen in our waters,
–Although Mount Marcy is the state’s highest peak, Mount Haystack is recognized as the most difficult to climb. It is rocky and rugged, and features a section known not affectionately as the “Devil’s Half Mile”. Cascade Mountain is considered the easiest of the High Peaks,
–The flower of the Adirondacks is the purple trillium, and the smell of the region is balsam fir,
–Garnet is the gem of the Adirondacks,
–The Adirondacks were the turning point of the Revolutionary War after the first victory which occurred at Fort Ticonderoga,
–Seneca Lake is the deepest in the Adirondacks with a maximum depth of 618 feet,
–Mount Skylight is the longest round-trip hike at 18 miles.
Hopefully, this now has you completely prepared for your first or next trip to the Adirondacks. It’s a journey that will take you to the heights of enjoyment.
(Photo of the common loon courtesy wildadirondack.org)