bark-eaters!" was the Iroquois Indians' insult for the Algonquin. The name caught on
for the entire region between Albany and the Canadian border. Today when you think
Adirondacks, you think size. Adirondack, all 6 million acres of it, is the largest park in
continental USA, accessible to New Yorkers in just a 5-hour drive. The park is a camping,
backpacking, mountaineering and hiking paradise. Lake Placid and the high
peak area was the site of the Winter Olympics of 1932 and 1980 and is now a winter sports
Adirondack covers not just public but also
privately owned land. Besides 105 towns and villages including winter resorts and the chic
spa town of Saratoga Springs, the park has huge wilderness regions such as Hurricane
Mountain Primitive Area, Sentinel Range Wilderness, Sawtooth Mountains, Santanoni
Mountains and Dix Mountain wilderness. 2800 lakes and ponds, 1200 miles of rivers and 46
registered High Peaks that are over 4,000 feet. At 5344 feet, Mount Marcy towers above
Gothic, Haystack, Upper Wolf Jaw, Lower Wolf Jaw, Algonquin, Saddleback and others in the
1.2 billion year old chain of Adirondack Mountains.
Besides the northeast's high peak
wilderness areas, a gentler landscape of undulating hills and lakes makes the south and
west approaches friendly. All across the park is fascinating wilderness- dense woods of
balsam fir, beech, black cherry, pine, hemlock, and wildflowers by the bushel. Inhabiting
these forests is an impressive range of wildlife- white-tailed deer, black bear, coyote,
beaver, and a large number of birds and fish.
There are a host of exciting activities
including boating, horseback riding, mountaineering, trekking, hiking, camping, hunting,
fishing, swimming, water skiing, scuba diving, ice skating, dog sledding, snowmobiling,
snowshoeing, downhill and cross-country skiing. The park has some splendid wildlife
including moose, deer, black bear, coyotes, beavers and bald eagles. And when you tire of
taking a walk on the wild side, visit the theater and art exhibitions, shop at artisan
outlets, and take tours of museums, architectural and Olympic sites.
There is no admission fee to enter the park
since there are multiple access routes. You have to pay a fee at the state campground but
not for hiking, canoeing and boat accesses.
The closest airport to Adirondack Park is
at Albany. A commercial airport services the park from Saranac Lake. There is a scenic
train ride on Amtrak between New York and Montreal with halts at Saratoga Springs, Glens
Falls, Fort Ticonderoga, Port Henry, Westport and Platsburg. Adirondacks Trailways
operates a bus service around the mountains and large cities such as New York, Albany and
Schenectady. Interstate Rt.87 traverses the eastern part of Adirondack Park from Albany to
the Canadian border. In addition, there are more than 40 roads to drive into the park- so
you shouldn't really have a problem getting into Adirondack.
Moving around Adirondack is likewise
convenient, local buses traverse the park, and cars can be hired both outside and within
the park area. For the adventurous, there are more options: go canoeing or boating down
the rivers; hike, bike, ride, and during the winter, go cross-country skiing, snowmobiling
or dog-sledding. 3,200 miles of hiking trails meander across Avalanche Pass, Wolf Jaw
Notch and Indian Pass, connecting the wilderness regions: many are open throughout the
year and are a great way to see the park. Canoe routes like the one from Old Forge splash
across miles of lakes, ponds and rivers.
Best time to visit
The best time for hiking and paddling
vacations is between May and October. But the weather in the Adirondacks is unpredictable
- sudden summer showers and swift plunges of the mercury even at lower altitudes means
that you have to be prepared for all weather conditions. Though warm days continue till
October, snowfall begins in September. After mid-September, it's better to plan short
trips and day hikes with easy accessibility to a safe haven or lodge to take refuge in
should the weather turn nasty.
A word of advice for those looking for that
spectacular photo of fall foliage: autumn in the Adirondacks is hard to beat for colour:
gold, brown, scarlet, orange- every shade fall can possibly be. Time your visit for fall
if you're a die-hard colour-lover.
Adirondack Park has an entire range of
accommodation options. At the top end are elegant resorts and spas, while motels and
cottages stud the lakesides. You can also rent rooms in colonial homes around the
Champlain Valley. There are plenty of eating out choices - gastronomic delights, game
specialties, ethnic fare, fast food and good old mom's cooking.
For more information, contact licensed
guide services such as the Adirondack Mountain Adventures (Tel: 516-293 7701), that can
tailor trips to suit you. Alternately, you could contact the Information Center of New
York State Tourism at 1 800/CALL-NYS (if you're calling from within the States, its
territories or Canada) or 518-474 4116 (if you're calling from elsewhere).