Experience Travel

The audacity of the wild

New York City and the Adirondacks are just five hours away from each other, but different like day and night in character. One is best explored by a subway, the other by boots and boats. As you drive down the winding road, the wilderness stretches out like a dreamscape — scenic mountain valleys hug the crystal-clear lakes and deep lush forests. The never-ending protected park takes over the reins from the city in motion. Open skies replace skyscrapers. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself driving alone on the spectacular but sleepy highway. The five-hour drive from New York to Adirondacks is no ordinary journey.

It was here in Adirondacks, on the damp night of September 14, 1901, that Vice President Theodore Roosevelt made his legendary night ride from the Adirondack Mountains to the Presidency of the United States of America. The word ‘vacation’ was invented in Adirondacks when the richest and most powerful men in the US started ‘vacating’ their homes in summers to spend time in the clean and soothing environs of Adirondacks. From Emerson, Thoreau, Roosevelt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, DuPont to Mark Twain; everyone got gripped by the spell of Adirondacks.

Historically, the most important but least known park in the US — at six million acres, it’s larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier and Everglades national parks combined. The park is incredibly wild with 2.6 million acres of forest reserve land, 3,000 lakes and ponds, 30,000 miles of water bodies, 2,000 miles of hiking trails, 46 peaks above 4,000 feet, 55 species of mammals and 218 species of birds. Unlike other parks, there is no entrance fee, no gates, just endless natural preserve and the promise of adventure in every part.

It remains the only constitutionally protected ‘Forever Wild’ forest in America. And the locals here take full advantage of the wilderness they are gifted with.

“The Adirondacks is a living playground for outdoor lovers. We don’t go to the gym. We just hike or ski in our backyard. We follow a six-inch rule — if it snows more than six inches, we can officially take half day off to ski,” says Kim Rielly, Director of Communications, Visit Adirondacks.

Usually, if you meet someone for the first time, you invite them for coffee or a meal. But in Adirondacks, you invite them for a hike. So, don’t forget to pack your hiking boots when you visit. The hike might seem arduous to some but the rewards are priceless — pure air, grand scenery and a bird’s eye view of the region that no Photoshopped catalogue can match. Valleys carpeted with multicoloured wildflowers in spring, or the annual outfit change of autumn foliage is a sight to behold. The view from the 46 high peaks is beyond spectacular. The higher you go, the better the view. There is no shortage of hiking trails here. From easy to advanced, from an hour to several days.

Paddle up scenic lakes

When you have 3,000 lakes and ponds, 30,000 miles of rivers, streams, and ponds, you can’t stay away from cruising the crystal-clear waters for hidden scenic views and exceptional wildlife. In Adirondacks, you don’t rent a boat, you own it. Boating goes on irrespective of rain or shine. Walking along the lakes’ shoreline is another way to savour the indescribable rugged beauty of the scenic lakes.

And if you want more adrenaline rush, the Hudson Gorge white water rafting is for you. The historic, famous and exhilarating 15 miles of torrential rafting action through dozens of breathtaking class IV and V rapids is something that’s hard to find elsewhere. The ideal time is either Spring when the snow-melt-fed Hudson river is buoyant with high rapids, or Autumn, when the entire shoreline is blazing with a riot of fall foliage.

Adirondacks is a region where you’ll find scenic beauty and friendly folks during seasons. And no matter what type of adventure you crave, Adirondacks will satiate — from hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, to kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, fly fishing, snowboarding, Olympics training to just strolling through paths not discovered. After experiencing it first-hand, all I can say is once your boots and boats have got a taste of life in the wild east, you’ll always return. That’s the spell ‘Forever Wild’ Adirondacks casts on you.

For a quick bite

The Breakfast Club at Lake Placid: try their signature bloody marys and mimosas

Blue Moon Cafe at Saranac Lake: try their seasonal specials

Adirondack Growl & Grub at Long Lake for draft beer and fresh deli

The Cottage Cafe at Mirror Lake Inn for a spectacular lake view and delicious food

Bitters & Bones at Saranac Lake for local brews and chilli maple wings

Transportation

Train: Amtrak trains run from New York, Albany and Montreal to Westport Station

Car: It’s a five-hour drive from New York City via scenic byways

Bus: Adirondack Trailways from New York City and other New York State locations

Flight: Adirondack Regional Airport at Lake Clear and Plattsburgh Airport

Accommodation: Adirondacks has ample stay options from luxury resorts, independent cottages, bed and breakfasts to camping in the park.


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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 6:02:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/the-adirondack-mountains-is-famed-for-its-adventure-activities-and-breathtaking-views/article19720537.ece

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