Road Trip: Adirondack Adventure in Upstate New York

from The Most Scenic Drives in America | 217

Wilmington Flume Preserve in Adirondack Park© NYS Dept. of Economic Dev.-images by Darren McGeeThe 16,000-acre Wilmington Flume Preserve on Rte. 86 is part of Adirondack Park.

Route Details

Length: About 270 miles, plus side trips.

When to go: Fine scenery year-round, with drastic and dramatic seasonal changes.

Nearby attractions: Lake George Beach State Park, with swimming and picnicking, east of Fort William Henry. Six Nations Indian Museum, with displays of native crafts, Rte. 30, north of Saranac Lake.

Words to the wise: Blackflies and other insect pests can be numerous, especially in early summer.

Visitor centers: Paul Smiths Visitor Information Center, Rte. 30, north of Saranac Lake. Newcomb Visitor Information Center, Rte. 28N, 14 miles east of Long Lake.

Further information: Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, P.O. Box 51, West Chazy, NY 12992; tel. 518-846-8016, www.adk.com.

Encompassing both public and private land, the Adirondack Park is shaped a bit like a giant oval, and it bounds an astounding 6 million acres — a tapestry of woodlands, meadows, high-shouldered peaks, and thousands of streams and lakes. Tiny villages are nestled across the countryside, and campgrounds and trails abound. It is no wonder, then, that visitors who come here tend to stay a while in order to savor the stunning scenery, protected since 1892 by a state law decreeing that the park shall remain ”forever wild.”

1. Prospect Mountain
For a good overview of the region, begin your Adirondack adventure with a drive to the lofty summit of Prospect Mountain, which crests at 2,030 feet. The highway, a toll road that is open in the warmer months, switches back and forth as it maneuvers up the slopes. It has many overlooks along the way to allow visitors to pause and enjoy the vistas. Below lies Lake George, a glistening 32-mile-long expanse of blue wedged amid steep, forested ridges. Sparkling clean, the lake is a swimmer’s delight, and its shores and myriad islands are virtually unbeatable when it comes to exploring and relaxing. Anglers too will find a piece of paradise here as they try their luck for bass, trout, perch, and other fish.

The Lake George area was not always so idyllic. In the 1700s the British and French waged battles for control of the territory, but of course neither country was destined to possess it in the end. The English erected Fort William Henry, which has been reconstructed just east of the village of Lake George, the touristy hub for the region. Visitors come to the reconstructed fort not only to learn about its history but also to take in the stunning views to be seen from the nearby water’s edge.

2. Bolton Landing
Hugging Lake George’s western shore, Rte. 9N passes waterfront homes, resorts, and rocky slopes softened by thick, fragrant stands of evergreens intermixed with broadleaf trees. Before long it arrives at Bolton Landing, a village complete with souvenir shopping, summer homes, a boat launch, and sweeping views of the lake. A narrow bridge connects the town to an island where the spacious Sagamore Hotel has been catering to guests for more than a century. A white clapboard structure with striking green trim, the resort first opened for business in 1883. The original structure burned down, was rebuilt, then caught fire again. The hotel standing today was erected in 1922.