Eat, bike, and hike through fall.
Peak ADK Adventures
In the Adirondacks it’s well known that if you’re only playing outside during daylight hours, you’re missing out on half the fun. The unofficial weekly gathering of mountain bikers for the Lake Placid “Booze Cruise” is no exception. The length and difficulty of the cruise varies and can generally be predicted by how many brews are recommended at the end of the ride; a one brew cruise is typically shorter and more difficult than the maximum three brew cruise, which generally offers a sampling of easier terrain over greater mileage. Either way, headlamps are a must.
When the leaves start turning around Schroon Lake, the common refrain on Main Street is, “this is the best time of the year.” Summer is full of wonderful activities here, but fall is a quiet and gentle season. The crowds have left and the Adirondack chairs on the beach are empty. There’s a whiff of wood smoke in the air and colored leaves sprinkle the sidewalk. Lucky people return in the fall to witness the mountains showing off their colors. The leaves start previewing the foliage season in September, but then burst with color during the first two weeks of October.
Things are cooling off in the Adirondacks. The leaves are changing and within no time there will be a fresh blanket of snow covering our mountains. In the meantime, fall is revving up and so are our kitchens. Here are some places you can pair with your leaf peeping. A warm fall treat is perfect on a colorful, chilly fall day.
Riding the ridge
Biking from Saranac Lake to Norman Ridge Road and back is a ride that takes me back to my home-grown roots. Every view along the way is a view I’ve seen my entire life. They are views that I may not see as frequently now, but they do more for me than any other in the area because they remind me of who I am and where I came from. These views are home, the home that resides deep in my heart. And they are views that are worth every peddle stroke on the bike.
If you are looking for a scenic bike route, this is it.
Bigger, bolder biking
With its verdant canopy of trees above and the still, reflective surface of silver lakes, the Adirondacks is a special place in the hearts of many. Travelers from all over the world ascend our mountains for their expansive views. It’s not just the scenery, though. All four seasons bring different opportunities for adventure, and mountain biking is becoming yet another reason to plan your trip to our wilderness in the northeast. In the last ten years, largely because of BETA’s (Barkeater Trails Alliance) efforts, mountain biking trails from the more technical to flowy are available to ride in the rugged, diverse terrain of the Adirondacks. I sat down with two enthusiasts of the mountain biking movement and chatted with them about why the Adirondacks, and more specifically why Wilmington, is a destination that bikers (and future bikers) should have on their radar.
Big apple experience
Something big is growing right off County Route 24 (Brainardsville Road), just outside of Malone. An oasis of nearly seven acres and five varieties of delicious, juicy apples, soon to be ten varieties, is right on the side of a quiet, meandering highway. Prairie's Orchard -- family owned and operated -- opened its you-pick apple orchard and farm stand doors in 2014.
Apples have long been an Adirondack tradition, and Daniel Prairie, owner of Prairie's Orchard along with his wife, two kids, and their parents, take this tradition seriously. He showed me around the fairly new, but thriving orchard on a warm Saturday in late September, when families were picking apples at the seven-acre orchard.
Short hike, long history
When researching a guidebook two decades years ago I hiked all over the Adirondacks, and nowhere did I come across a scene so poignant as the one I encountered on the way to John Pond in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness.
After walking deep into the forest, I came across a wooden sign directing me to the graves of two children—Eliza King, 14, and her stepbrother, Peter Savarie, 11. A sign on a nearby tree read: “Death came in the black diphtheria plague of 1897. May their souls rest in peace.” I returned to the site this summer to check on the graves and revisit the lean-to on the south shore of John Pond. I’m happy to report that the burial site is still intact and the pond is as lovely as ever.
Rollin' around Rollins
When I start waking up to crisp, cool mornings, and the red leaves on the trees start to appear I start to get an itch to get outside and explore. During the peak summer months, I tend to take a break from my normal hiking and biking outdoor activities. Partially to stay away from the bugs, but also to spend as much time as I can on the water!
I wanted to check out the start of the foliage, so I threw my bike on top of my car and took a drive out to Fish Creek and Rollins Pond. Fish Creek is still open with campers, but Rollins Pond was closed to campers, so I knew it would be nice and quiet back there.