Part I – THE AMAZING ADIRONDACKS – The Mountains

By Charlene S. Mixa

Explore These Magnificent Mountains

Rocky path to the summit of Whiteface Mountain

Rocky path to the summit of Whiteface Mountain

With 46 high peaks, six million acres of spectacular mountains, awesome vistas, and thousands of glacier formed lakes the Adirondack Mountains beckon visitors to feast in this scenic wonder. Activities are as varied as the mountaintops. In the summer enjoy the rolling landscape and peaks that welcome climbs. Feel the thrill of victory at the popular Olympic venues, experience the rustic opulence of the Great Camps and travel back in time at historical museums. In the midst of the Adirondacks, the Village of Lake Placid sits on the shores of Mirror Lake surrounded by these fabulous mountains.  The home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games this alpine town is the perfect place to stay while exploring the amazing Adirondacks. The Adirondack Mountains are amazing in their magnificent beauty and varied activities.  Join us on our adventures in the “Amazing Adirondacks” in a five-part series. 

View of Adirondacks and Heart Lake from Mt. Jo

View of Adirondacks and Heart Lake from Mt. Jo

Take a hike for great vistas of the Adirondacks High Peaks from the hundreds of trails available for the casual to avid hiker. Seeking spectacular views but a less demanding climb, Mt. Jo, a steep and rocky peak rising 710 feet above Heart Lake, is recommended as a moderate hike. At the Adirondack Heart Lake Visitors Center numerous trails depart including those to Mt. Jo and Heart Lake. Hiking the Short Trail up and the Long Trail down is suggested to be easier on the knees. Rated a “moderate” hike it is a true adventure as the .9 miles path quickly ascends straight up the mountain. To us flatlanders it is a “climb” not a “hike.”  We scramble over rocks and huge boulders on our way up. Atop Mt. Jo the view is spectacular of the High Peaks and Heart Lake. The 1.1 miles Long Trail down is still relatively steep so it’s slow and easy. The fantastic views are well worth the climb.

The Winding Veterans Memorial Highway

The Winding Veterans Memorial Highway

Drive a Scenic Highway - to the top of 4,867-foot high Whiteface Mountain.   A spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of unparalleled beauty awaits. Veterans Memorial Highway rises 2,300 feet in five miles offering nine designated scenic stops along the way to the summit with posted information signs at each site.  From these vantage points we have awesome vistas of Lake Placid (the lake), Saranac Lake and miles of mountainous scenery. Reaching the summit by the Castle, we park and slip on our jackets as the temperature has dropped dramatically.

At the peak of  Whiteface Mountain

At the peak of Whiteface Mountain

On a 1/5 mile hike to the summit, we are thrilled as the rock strewn trail takes us to the mountain top. Railings assure a safe climb on this rugged path. Much more fun than an elevator! The summit reveals the dazzling splendor of the Adirondacks and its high peaks. After roaming the summit, the elevator ride down takes 90 seconds with a 400 foot walk through a tunnel to the parking lot. http://www.whiteface.com/summer/activities/hiway.php  Whiteface is the only Adirondack High Peak accessible by car.  It is the easiest way for visitors to see the fantastic views of the mountains.  Take a jacket and wear good shoes.

HIgh Falls Gorge

HIgh Falls Gorge

Walk along a gorge for unbelievable views of the Ausable River as it plunges over ancient granite cliffs at High Falls Gorge. On our self guided tour the walkways and sturdy bridges take us beside and across four sparkling waterfalls that travel over 600 feet through a breathtaking section of the Ausable River. Formed over a billion years ago by forces of ice, water and wind the story boards educate us on the extraordinary history of the gorge set in the shadow of Whiteface Mountain. We see one of New York’s largest pot holes as we learn how they are formed. Photo opportunities are excellent of the scenic gorge, splendid waterfalls, pot holes and serene forest settings.www.highfallsgorge.com A great stop on the return to Lake Placid after the Veteran’s Memorial Highway.

The Adirondacks from Gondola Ride

The Adirondacks from Gondola Ride

Get a bird’s eye view from the Whiteface Gondola Ride. The Cloudsplitter Gondola at Whiteface Lake Placid carries us to the top of Little Whiteface Mountain providing breathtaking views. Above the treetops the Gondola traces the mountain’s contours as we rise over soaring streams, steep rock faces and thick forests. We easily spot the Village of Lake Placid and the lake as well as the Olympic ski jumps, the Ausable River and even Lake Champlain. The tallest peaks of the amazing Adirondacks are easily visible from the observation deck. www.whiteface.com Note: Make a fun day of leisurely activities for exploring the mountains and gorge by combining Veteran’s Memorial Highway, High Falls Gorge and the Gondola Ride as these sites are close together.

Mirror Lake from The View Restaurant

Mirror Lake from The View Restaurant

Go for a Stroll on a 2.7 mile walk around Mirror Lake. The Village of Lake Placid sits on the edge of Mirror Lake providing wonderful lake view settings for many businesses. Starting by the Visitors Center it is a fun stroll around Mirror Lake watching kayakers and canoeist paddle across its shimmering water. With wonderful views of some of the Adirondacks High Peaks the walk is tranquil. Across from the Village are rustic woods and elegant private homes. Swimmers traverse the lake preparing for upcoming competitions. The walk then goes through the bustling Village of Lake Placid with its eclectic selection of shops and eateries. Walking the lake is a daily activity for both locals and visitors. With flat terrain, magnificent views, and a serene setting a “walk” around Mirror Lake is very enjoyable.

Accommodations:  In the summer we seek cooler climates for our travels. Three weeks in New York State’s Lake Placid provides ample time to explore these exceptional mountains. Our rental unit in the Pine Hills Townhomes near the Railroad Station is within walking distance of the Village. An “Outdoor Lovers Dream,” http://www.vrbo.com/32296, is a three-story townhouse with 3 large bedrooms and 2 ½ baths providing lots of space. Numerous touches enhance the warm charming décor. It’s a wonderful base for our Adirondack and Lake Placid adventures.

If you go the links provided within the article give easy connection to the activities. Be sure to visit the Visitor Center below at the beginning of your trip as they have excellent information and assistance. They also have The Guide a handy reference for things to do, places to stay and where to eat.

Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, 46 Parkside Drive, Lake Placid, NY 12946; 800.447.5224; www.lakeplacid.com  

 

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About Charlene Mixa

Seeing new places, learning about cultures and seeing the sights has always been my dream. Growing up I was blessed with parents that enjoyed traveling and thought nothing of taking a family of seven on excursions. My career in Human Resources and later as a consultant for an international Human Resource firm offered some travel, but I knew as my husband and I approached retirement, my goal was to do more traveling and broader trips. The nine years since retirement has been filled with fantastic adventures from short local one day trips to several week excursions. Living in Florida, it is especially enjoyable to be away in the summer to cooler climates. Multi-week driving trips across the good ol' USA, settling in for a month in the mountains to explore the local area, or a combination of both fill much of our summer season. Our travels are predominantly self-orchestrated, bringing the fun and challenge of getting everything to click. It's all about doing and sharing! Experiencing a travel adventure is exciting. Reliving a special travel moment with a friend or family is exhilarating. I feel my heart race and pulse quicken, as I sharing that special moment. Thank you for joining in my travel adventures and allowing me to hear your stories.