Going Vintage: Scenic Sunday Drives

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by Rina Kremer

Going Vintage: Scenic Sunday Drives

When was the last time you went on a drive for the sake of the drive itself? Was it never ago? Yeah. Same.

Who has the time to just drive somewhere for the views? To just drive and come back without a load of groceries, a required stop at your annoying aunt’s house, to pick up the dry cleaning, or even a cup of coffee? As a New York City dweller in a past life, it’s quite literally unheard of to just go for a drive. Aside from negative time availability, the closest most people get to a car of their own is a car2go. Or their company’s Uber account.

Anyway. With that said, you’re probably reading this for one of a few different reasons: you are planning a visit to the Adirondacks in the near future and need some direction; you just found out you have vaca to burn and know our stunning scenery is worth the trip; or maybe you simply live in, or near, the Adirondacks and want to explore it in new ways. As such, now is the time to take the scenic drive, and here’s why:

The Adirondacks are stunning. Beautiful in every season, but especially in the fall, it's the perfect time for a scenic drive with no destination in mind. You won’t have to deal with the strip mall scene, getting stuck in traffic, or hitting many stop lights (and if you’re in the Heart of the Adirondacks, you won’t hit any stoplights at all!). It’ll be hard to find any of the common driving stressors here.

What you’ll experience instead are dramatic mountain landscapes, more lakes and ponds than you’d think would be in one place, and the freshest air you’ve breathed in a while.


The Adirondack Trail

What better way to see the Adirondacks than on the Adirondack Trail? While the trail traverses 188 miles from Malone to the Erie Canal, spanning the entire Adirondacks, USA region itself (as it probably should, with the namesake), feel free to jump in on Route 30 wherever you see fit! You’ll certainly see enough sites without the whole trail. For instance, if you’re in the Northern Adirondacks you’ll see some of the more prominent lakes like Tupper and Clear on the hilly, mostly untouched, wildlife-filled route. The fall makes for a magnificent leaf show, and spring and summer welcome you to take many pit stops along the way to explore the plethora of foot trails all along the route.


The High Peaks Byway

As you wind your way north through the Adirondacks, enjoy the scenic views of Schroon Lake's 8+ mile lake before taking the Adirondack Northway's famous Exit 30. A 30-mile route snakes its way to Lake Placid, taking you on a tour of what is perhaps the most dramatically landscaped piece of the Adirondacks: the High Peaks and Whiteface Region.

You’ll drive on narrow roads between steep, towering mountains and sparkling rivers, and alongside cyclists enjoying what must be a beautiful, albeit difficult, ride. Mountain after cliff, and lake after river, you’ll find the route to fly by and be driving into the alpine village of Lake Placid before you know it.


The Lake Loop

For those of you who love the lakes (and ponds) of this region most, a drive around the Northern Adirondacks’ finest lakes is a must, well, drive.

On the loop connecting routes 3, 30, and 86, you’ll pass by the Saranac Lakes Chain, Square Pond, Follensby Clear, Polliwog, Little Clear, and (regular) Clear Pond, to name just a few. My additional advice: take detours on both Floodwood Road and Church Pond Road to 1.) See more bodies of water and 2.) Get closer to the St. Regis Canoe Area, a truly pristine and protected piece of land even further removed from the industrial world.


Along Lake Champlain

Along with the rural stretches and vast waterfront views on a drive along the Adirondack Coast, you’ll come across some cute little towns reminiscent of days - or hundreds of years - past. If you’re coming from the Saranac Lake or Lake Placid areas, it’s easily accessible via Routes 9N and 22. And while you’re driving along Lake Champlain, keep your eyes peeled for Champ. According to the 2003 Discovery Channel special, he’s the “America’s Loch Ness Monster.” (You certainly can’t mistake his American roots with a name like Champ).


Rural Escape

Want to get away from it all this season? Forget stoplights, crowds of people, and commuter traffic. Enjoy an old-school scenic country drive through the most sparsely populated county in the eastern half of the United States! You'll find your peace from the action right here.

The Heart of the Adirondacks - think Long Lake, Speculator, and Indian Lake - is full of wilderness preserves and with lakes and ponds aplenty. The diverse views are complemented by the easy access from Route 30 out of Tupper Lake - and route 30 will take you all the way through! However, I definitely suggest some detours along the way: if you take Route 28 you’ll find yourself at the Pigeon Lake Wilderness, and routes 8 and 10 will take you to the Silver Lake Wilderness.

Of course, there are hundreds of other options for a wonderfully scenic and relaxing drive around the Adirondacks. How many other places today can you say the same for?