Archive for the ‘Destinations’ Category

Saratoga Spa State Park – Saratoga Springs, NY

Posted on: September 12th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

1024px-Saratoga_State_Park_Perimeter_01Aug2008Saratoga Spa State Park is the cultural hub of Saratoga Springs.  A National Historic Landmark, the park is home to several mineral baths, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Naional Museum of Dance, the Gideon Putnam Resort, Spa Little Theater, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, and Roosevelt Baths and Spa.  It is also home to two golf courses, which can be used for cross country skiing, ice skating, and ice hockey in the winter!  This park offers endless distractions to fill your day.  It is also just a great place to head for a picnic or a casual walk to enjoy the scenery!

Saratoga Springs is home to many natural mineral springs which are purported to heal all manner of ailments.  This belief has been held since the French and Indian War when Sir William Johnson was brought to Saratoga to recover from his injuries.   The city is home to the only active geysers east of the Mississippi.  It was during the 19th century that the area become visited by people traveling far and wide to experience its healing waters for themselves.  Its popularity continued and in WWII, veterans flooded the city to use the natural baths to aid their healing.  These spas became a state park in 1962, and a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Operating springs are Hathorne, Hayes, Orenda, Charlie, Geyser, State Seal and Polaris.  The Lincoln baths are also in operation!Admission to the baths requires a $20 fee.

Aside from its famous mineral springs, Spa Park’s recreational opportunities are vast and varied.  The Performing Arts Center is the summer home of the New York City Ballet and the Philedelphia Orchestra.  The amphitheater hosts many different events, particularly jazz and dance.  The Little Theater also hosts numerous summer events.  The National Museum of Dance, and the Saratoga Automobile Museum are also worth a visit!

The park is well landscaped, and maintained well without compromising its natural beauty.  There are plenty of picnic tables mixed in along its tree lined lanes.  Hiking, cycling, tennis, golf, fishing, and in winter cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and hockey are all enjoyed by visitors to the park.  Peerless Pool offers lots of different pools to enjoy, including an Olympic sized pool, and pools with water slides.

Saratoga Spa State Park is a fabulous place to visit.  With tons of museums, its historic mineral springs, and countless other activities, you can easily spend several days here before exhausting all it has to offer.  Stroll through its wooded hiking trails, go for a swim, or enrich your mind by visiting one of its many museums, or just relax and enjoy the scenery! It’s impossible to run out of things to do at this great park!

Algonquin Mountain – Keene Valley, NY

Posted on: September 7th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

The second highest peak in New York State and the tallest of the McIntyre Range, Algonquin Mountain is number 2 on the list of high peaks. AlgonquinmtnAdkLojThe climb to the summit is quite short at just four miles, but it becomes quite steep as you get closer to the summit.  However the spectacular views from its bald summit make the steep climb more than worth it.  There is a steward at the summit who is happy to educate hikers about the rare and endangered vegetation found on the mountain, and to point out the gorgeous views.

The trailhead begins at the popular Adirondack Loj trail. Follow Rte 73 out of Lake Placid toward Keene.  Take a right onto Adirondack Loj Rd. and follow it until you reach the trailhead.  There is a $10 parking fee.   Hikers must fill out a trip ticket at the trail register or risk a fine.

The hike from here is 4.3 miles to the summit and has mixed terrain.  Follow the trail leading to Marcy Dam, and after about 1 mile you will come to an intersection.  Continue straight here and head up Algonquin.  The terrain becomes increasingly steeper and comes to a waterfall at 2.6 miles.   At 3.4 miles you will reach the intersection for Wright Peak.  As you reach the final ascent to the summit, the trail becomes very steep as you reach the tree line. Once you are above the tree line you will be exposed to the elements and the temperature may drop considerably.   Cairns and paint marks mark the trail when conditions limit visibility.    The view from the summit is 360 degrees, which especially gorgeous views of Mount Colden.

The hike up to the summit of Algonquin is challenging.  However, the hike is not especially long and the views from the top are very rewarding.




Mount Colden – Lake Placid, NY

Posted on: September 6th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

MtColdenNumber 11 on the list of 46 High Peaks, Mount Colden is among the most popular peaks in the High Peaks Region.  It is known for its very distinctive Trap Dike, which runs up the center of the mountain. The dike, which drops off into Avalanche Lake, is considered one of the best slide climbs in the area.

This peak is less crowded than Marcy and Algonquin but you can expect to see a few dozen people if you visit on a weekend.  The summit provides beautiful views of Algonquin and Marcy as well as amazing views down to Avalanche Lake.  The trail to Avalanche Lake also boasts its own impressive views.

There are two maintained trails up to Mount Colden.  Both can be reached from the Adirondack Loj trailhead.  The first makes its approach from the northeast, passing by Lake Arnold and crossing over the false summit before reaching the true summit.  The second approach comes from the southwest, beginning at Lake Colden.   The trails can be combined to make a loop.

You can reach the Adirondack Loj trailhead by following Rte 73 out of Lake Placid toward Keene.  Take a right (just after the ski jumps) on Adirondack Loj Rd.  This road ends at the car park and hiker trailhead.  There is a $10/day parking fee.  Be sure to fill out a trip ticket at the trailhead.  Without one you may be fined.

The primary route is 12 miles round trip.  The hike begins on the trail leading to Marcy Dam.  From Marcy Dam, take the well used trail toward Avalanche Camps.  Take a left and begin your climb toward Lake Arnold.  From here you will turn right and hike past the bond, and continue to climb, which will give you some breathtaking views.  The terrain will become much steeper in sections, and views become considerably less grand as you reach the false summit.  There is a slight descent followed by a very steep climb up to the true summit, which has some very rewarding views.

The secondary trail is nearly 15 miles round trip.  From Marcy Dam again take the trail toward Avalanche Camps.  Head toward Avalanche Pass instead of Lake Arnold.  The following mile is called the “Misery Mile,” but don’t be discouraged by the name! It’s steep, but manageable.  Pass through Avalanche Pass (where temperatures may drop considerably) and carry on past Avalanche Lake.  The trail passing by the lake is quite demanding and is dotted with boulders, rock stairs and ladders.  When you pass the lake, the trailhead becomes much more moderate and descends to a register at a junction.  Take the left trail leading to Lake Colden, and then go left again and begin the very steep and strenuous climb to the summit of Mount Colden.

Whichever trail you take, the hike is quite challenging (though markedly more so on the secondary trail), however, the gorgeous views along the way and from the summit it make the climb well worth it.

Seward Mountain – Tupper Lake, NY

Posted on: August 30th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

Seward_Mt_seen_from_Seymour_Mt_NYThe largest and most frequently climbed in its range, Seward Mountain is number twenty four of the 46 high peaks.  It marks the beginning of the most remote of the major peaks.  It is commonly climbed with Donaldson and Emmons.

Seward was named for the governor of New York, William Henry Seward, who founded the Republican Party and was Lincoln’s Secretary of State.   There is no maintained paths, and herdpaths must be used to climb this mountain, which makes it (and the other two in its range) one of the more difficult climbs of the 46 peaks.  However, the paths are well defined from semi-frequent foot traffic and are not too difficult to follow.

This range has a very dry micro climate.  Be sure to carry in water!  Because there are no official paths it’s also recommended that you bring a map and a compass, or hire a guide.  Some paths cross over private land, so be sure to respect private property.  Refrain from hunting, fishing, and camping, stick to the trail and keep all pets on a leash.   If you are hiking during hunting season (late October to late December) make sure you’re wearing bright colors, and don’t be too alarmed by gun shots and people with guns.

This trail is not especially beautiful and the view from the summit is not noteworthy.  However, the Seward range is significantly less crowded than any of the other high peaks.  The views from Donaldson and Emmons are also quite lovely, so if you plan to climb all three, you will get some great views in.

There are two methods of approach to climb Seward.  The primary trailhead can be found in Tupper Lake on Corey’s Rd. about 5.5 miles from Rte 3.

This will take you over Donaldson, along the Calkins Brook path.  Once you summit Donaldson, Seward is to the left, about 1.0 mile further.   There will be a short descent from Donaldson’s summit, followed by a very steep climb up to a small knob.  Another descent and rapid climb will bring you to the ridge on Seward.  While there are not spectacular views from the actual summit, there are some very pretty views just before you reach the top.  This route is about 12 miles round trip.

The second approach uses the same trailhead. The path is quite steep and very eroded in some parts.  It is much less used than the other path, and as such is not at all maintained.  Walk along the well used trail from the parking area for 4.5 miles. You will come to the Ward Brook Truck Trail.  This will take you over rolling hills which may be wet and muddy.  The herdpath on the right after you pass the first brook, not long after you start on the Truck Trail.  The herdpath begins with a very moderate incline, but steadily becomes much steeper, and eroded.  Just before the summit you will find some very nice views, as well as just beyond.  This route is 13.6 miles round trip.


Mount Emmons – Tupper Lake, NY

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

1024px-Seward_Mountains_as_seen_from_Mt_SeymourThe fortieth on the list of 46 high peaks, Mount Emmons is the lowest mountain on the Seward range.   It is also the most western peak of the 46 High Peaks, which makes it the highest peak until well past the Mississippi. It is very commonly climbed together with Mount Donaldson.  The summit of Emmons boasts great views of the rest of the High Peaks, and a view of the Santanoni Range.

The path to Emmons is more isolated than most of the other 46 peaks, as the best approach is from the peak of Mount Donaldson, which is already rather remote.   Because it is quite remote it is recommended you bring food and water with you.  Also be sure to bring a map and compass, or hire a guide who can help you traverse the mountain.   If you plan to use a GPS be aware that overhanging trees may interfere with the signal and make it unusable, so you may wish to have a backup plan for navigation.

The approach to Emmons follows the same path for Donaldson and Seward.  You can hike all three peaks in one day, but it is quite a long and grueling hike at 18+ miles.

The herdpaths up to the summit of Donaldson can be reached by taking Rt 3 out of Saranac Lake toward Tupper Lake.  After 12.5 miles, take a left at Corey’s Rd and follow it for another 5.5 miles.  The trailhead is on the right.

The first 1.2 miles is a well used trail.  Then you will take a right on an old woods road and continue for another 2 miles until you meet the Calkins Brook herdpath.  This will wind along the brook and cross over it several times, as it rises steadily.  The summit of Emmons is about a mile further on from the summit of Donaldson.

From the summit of Donaldson, the herdpath descends to the west side of the ridge between Emmons and Donaldson.  It then begins to climb up to the top of Emmons.  The trail is very open in some parts and provides some great views of both mountains.  Once you reach the summit of Emmons, you’ll find some gigantic boulders that provide fantastic views, if you’re willing to climb them.

Mount Donaldson – Tupper Lake, NY

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

Mt_Emmons_and_Mt_Donaldson_NYLocated in the center of the Seward Range, Mount Donaldson is the thirty third highest of the 46 high peaks.  As it is the middle peak, it boasts the best view of the Seward range of any of the other peaks.  An open rock ledge at the summit gives you stunning views of Long Lake to the south.

Donaldson is the most climbed peak on this ridge.  The herd paths used to ascend it are quite difficult and remote.  Hiking Donaldson is long and difficult, so bring your A game!

Because they are along the same ridge, Donadlson is commonly climbed with Seward and Emmons.  The three peaks together make for a very long, 18 mile day.  It requires an early start, as the hike could take upwards of 12 hours.

The mountain is quite remote, however, the herd paths are well defined, despite the lack of foot traffic.  The usual route to Donaldson follows the approach to Seward from the west.

There are two approaches to Donaldson and both involve trails that are on private land.  The Upper Works trail, and the Duck Hole trail are located on private land, while the Ward Brook trail follows the border along private land (as signs will point out).  Remember to keep dogs leashed, and refrain from off trail travel, hunting, fishing, camping, boating, or swimming while on private property.   The Seward Range is also a popular hunting destination during the big game hunting season (the last Sunday in Oct. to the first sunday in Dec.) so if you hike during this time, make sure you’re wearing brightly colored clothing, and don’t be alarmed at the sound of gunshots, or if you see hunters.

The primary trailhead can be found by following Rt 86 out of Lake Placid toward Saranac Lake.  At Lake Placid, take Rt 3 toward Tupper Lake to Coreys Rd (about 12.5 miles) and take a left.  Follow Corey’s Rd for 5.5 miles.  The trailhead is on the right.

The route travels along Calkins Brook and the first 1.2 mi is a well used trail.  Take a right on an old woods trail.  In 2 miles you will reach the Calkins Brook herd path, to the left.  The herd path will cross over the brook and then take on a moderate grade and rise high above it. There are several crossings of side brooks.  You will come to a ridge near the summit.  From here turn right and ascend the remaining 200 ft to the summit.  There is a large ledge just beyond the summit on the right, which provides good views to the north and west.  The path continues about another mile to the top of Mount Emmons.  The two peaks together are 11 miles round trip.


Porter Mountain – Keene, NY

Posted on: August 22nd, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

Porter_Mtn_from_Rooster_CombNumber 38 on the list of high peaks is Porter Mountain.  Though it is is partially overshadowed by its neighbor, Cascade, it is a rewarding climb.  It boasts wide views from the summit, and has especially beautiful views of Johns Brook Valley to the east.  Though the summit is not bald it offers 360 degree views (though it may require a bit of maneuvering around to see them, due to foliage).  This summit is typically less crowded than Cascade, and is a great hike for beginners as most of the trails are moderate grade.  There also plenty of things to look at along the way, and it’s quite easy to jog over to Cascade.

Porter is frequently climbed with Cascade, and most hikers attempting to join Adirondack 46er Club begin with these two peaks.

There are three trails leading to Porter.  You can begin from the Garden Parking Lot at Keen for a 3.8 mi hike to the summit.  You can begin at Marcy Airfield for a 4.5 mi hike to the summit that also takes you over Blueberry Mountain.  Or you can begin at Cascade Mountain and climb both peaks which is 6.4 miles round trip.

The trail from the Garden parking lot has the most moderate grade, but it is also the most difficult place to park.  Marcy Airfield offers ample free parking, but it is the longest and most difficult trail.   The trail over Cascade is the shortest route, but again, parking can be an issue.  Improperly parked cars will be towed.  Remember to fill out a trip ticket at the trailhead so you can avoid any fines.

The most used trail is the one going over Cascade.  It is a 2.4 mile trail that gains 1940 feet in elevation.  It is very easy to follow the red plastic markers to Cascade’s bare summit.   From there you’ll be offered 360 degree views.  Once you’ve taken in your fill of the scene, there is a 1.0 mile hike to the summit of Porter.  You will have to hike 0.3 miles back to the junction on the trail and turn left.  There will be a short descent into a col, before the trail begins to climb again.  You will reach a large boulder, 0.9 miles from Cascade, to the right of which is a beautiful view.   From here you will climb along a ridge and reach the summit of Porter.

The Marcy Airfield trail can be reached by parking in the lot just past Marcy Field along Rt 73.   This hike is 9.0 miles round trip and quite steep.  Follow the woods road until you come to the foot trail on the left.   This trail leads over Blueberry Mountain, and some parts of it are quite eroded.  The views from the summit are breathtaking, however, and well worth the exertion.  From Blueberry mountain you will continue along the steep, eroded path to approach Porter from the south east, along a ridge.  This ridge is a more moderate climb, which some pretty views before reaching the summit.

The Garden trail can be found by following Rt 73 out of Lake Placid to Keene Valley.  Turn right after the Ausable Inn and follow along the road until it ends at the Garden Parking Lot.  This trail is 7.6 miles round trip.  The trail is quite moderate to the base of Little Porter and has plenty to see along the way.  There are pretty meadows and remnants of the 1903 fire.  The climb becomes quite steep for the last 1/4 mile up to the summit of Little Porter, but there are number rock staircases to aid you.  From Little Porter the trail can be quite wet, and erosion is evident.  It remains quite steep, and joins the Marcy Field trail not far below the summit of Porter Mountain.

There are many different trails to the summit of Porter Mountain and each offers something different.   The summit offers spectacular 360 degree views, and is typically less crowded than some of the more popular high peaks.  It’s also very easy to hike Cascade in the same day!

Dial Mountain – Keene Valley, NY

Posted on: August 15th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

800px-Dial_Mtn_from_NoonmarkCommonly climbed with Nippletop due to its location on the same ridge, Dial Mountain is number 41 on the list of high peaks.   It is considered one of the classic hikes in the area and boasts beautiful views from the summit, though they are somewhat limited to the west.

Depending on your route of approach you will either have to first summit Nippletop, or Noonmark and Bears Den.   The primary route takes you over Nippletop.    From this trail to Dial it is a 10 mile hike, round trip (including road walking).

Hikers must park at the designated parking lot for the Roaring Brook Trail.  It is located off Rt. 73, 3 miles south of the High Peaks sign in Keene.  From this lot, there is a 0.5 mile walk heading west along the gravel road, past the golf course, to Lake Road (and the trailhead).   This trail is in the Adironadack Mountain Reserve.  Hikers should be aware that there is no camping, hunting, or fishing, and no off trail travel.  Dogs and other pets are absolutely prohibited.  Hikers must fill out a trip ticket at the trailhead.  If a ranger finds you without one, you may be fined and you will not be able to continue your hike.

This trail is especially nice in summer because it is quite shady.  The foliage is also very pretty in late August and early September.

Once you’ve reached the trailhead at Lake Road Way.  Continue on to the Gate House where you can register.  A wooden gate lies just beyond, though which you will follow a dirt road for about 0.7 miles.  The start of the trail begins on the left.

The climb will begin immediately off of this road and become increasingly steeper until you reach the shoulder of Noonmark.  At this area you can see the evidence from a major forest fire that swept through the area several years ago.  From here there will be a rapid descent, but you will begin climbing again quickly as you summit Bear Den Mountain.  The summit is fully wooded.    The descent from here is moderate, until you make your final climb to the summit of Dial Mountain.

If you turn around from here it is about 10 miles round trip.  You can also continue and include Nippletop, which will make your trip about 16 miles round trip.

Dial is considered one of the classic hikes of the Adirondacks and shouldn’t be missed by any experienced hiker. Its views of the High Peaks region are unrivaled, and it is one of the more pleasant hikes in summer and fall.


Nippletop – Keene Valley, NY

Posted on: August 13th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

Nippletop is luck number 13 on the 46er list! Though its summit is far from bald, it offers one of the prettiest views of the high peaks, overlooking Elk Pass and offering a great view of Mt. Clovin and the rest of the great range.  It is commonly climbed with Dial Mountain because they are along the same ridge.

The primary trailhead, which takes you directly to Nippletop, is known for being one of the wetter trails of the 46 peaks.  It can be quite muddy.  The secondary trail, over Bear Den and Dial, is much dryer, but has a much longer ascent.

To reach the primary trailhead, you can find the designated hikers parking lot of Rt 73.  It is located across the road from the Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead for Giant Mountain.  There is room for about 30 cars, and this lot can fill up quickly on weekends.  Be aware that hikers can park in designated areas only, and parking is checked frequently.  Don’t let your car get towed!

As this trail is located within the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, there is no camping, hunting, or off trail travel, and no dogs or other pets allowed.  You must fill out and carry with you a “trip ticket” at the trailhead.  If you don’t, you may be fined, and a park ranger will not allow you to continue your hike.

The trailhead is along the road.  You will have to walk until you come to a wooden gate, which leads to a dirt road.  Follow this for 2.5 miles until you reach a foot trail.  The foot trail begins as a moderate climb, but gradually becomes stepper in places.  Pass the trail for Indian Head and for Fish Hawk Cliffs.  When you reach the trail for Clovin and Blake you will begin a relaxed climb to Elk Pass.  Elk Pass offers beautiful views in its own right.   However, this is a very wet section of the trail!

You will pass through three beaver ponds and then the climb will become very steep.  This will even out and leave you 0.1 miles from the summit.  It is another very steep climb to the top, and the trail can be quite narrow in spots, but views are continuous, and are some of the best of all the 46 peaks!  You will be able to see Elk Pass below, and you may be surprised that it is only about 500m below!

The Farmhouse Tap and Grill – Burlington, VT

Posted on: August 8th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

Styling themselves a “beer oasis,” Farmhouse Tap and Grill  has 24 taps of craft beers, most of them local.  But beer is far from the only thing they serve at this gastropup!

Farmhouse foster strong connections with local farmers and producers so that they can showcase the best that Vermont has to offer.   Through these connections they are able to bring you award winning burgers made with local beef, re-imagined comfort foods, house cured meats, imaginative specials, and of course, Vermont cheese plates!

Burgers are served with house made condiments and on buns incredibly buttery and crisp! Delicious seasonal items include Kale and sausage soup or Vermont Cheddar Ale soup.  And they’re menu isn’t limited to dinner.  Check them out for lunch during the week, where you can find smoked bratwurst, pulled tarragon chicken salad, or the “ridiculously local” BLT.  Or stop by for brunch on the weekend and try the House Bennies with Canadian bacon, poached eggs, and hollandaise on a house made English muffin, with a side of hash browns and dressed greens!

While their menu is wonderful, this place is really a beer nerd’s paradise.  Hill Farmstead, Lawsons, and Heady Topper are frequently on draught.  There are frequently very rare taps like a 2 year barrel aged Meat Whistle by Magic Hat.   And you aren’t limited to what’s on draught! There are tons of bottles, and many of them are quite rare.  The outdoor beer garden is a great place to enjoy one of their many amazing brews. Be sure to check out their website for tap takeovers!