I have been on several journeys by air recently, so when a road trip beckoned, it felt novel to pack up the car with snacks, books on CD from the library and magazines and drive to a different country.
We arrived, if not totally refreshed, close to it, with no jet lag or time difference to deal with. We didn’t have to stand in line or worry about luggage restrictions and could stop as we desired. Road trips are growing in popularity and the reasons are clear. They can be fun, especially if your destination is as appealing as Lake Placid, N.Y.
Lake Placid is a delightful escape from the busyness of everyday life. Sheltered among the Adirondack Park’s six million acres, it is a two-hour, 10-minute drive from Montreal and part of a day’s drive from Toronto, but feels a world away.
There are mountains to climb, newly formed in the last 10,000 years, while granite and other rocks are up to 1.3 billion years old. There are rivers to fish, serene lakes to kayak and forests to explore. Bike through spectacular landscape, from quiet country roads to scenic mountain passes. If golf is your passion, play a round on one of 13 golf courses.
During our short visit, the weather was miserable but we weren’t. Even with inclement weather, we found plenty to do. One thing I enjoyed about the area were the water views at every turn, whether it was a lake, river or pond. The Adirondacks contain almost 50,000 kilometres of brooks and streams, 10,000 kilometres of rivers, and about 3,000 lakes and ponds. The Ausable River is a magnet for trout fishermen.
What to see and do in the area: Outdoor activities are significant here and why not with so much to discover? It is no surprise that Lake Placid has just been ranked the No. 1 outdoor town in America in the new book 101 Best Outdoor Towns.
We headed to High Peaks Cyclery, where guides and gear are available for mountain biking, guided hiking, kayaking, canoeing, mountaineering, skiing and snowshoeing. While we were looking at maps of the trails, planning our hiking route, a group of 15 came in to pick up hiking and camping equipment they had reserved ahead for their overnight reunion. Arriving with nothing, they left for their overnight hike with sleeping bags, tents, knapsacks, headlamps and everything else required. Later as we hiked and traversed trails and high rocks with Karen, owner and guide of High Peaks (www.hpmountainguides.com), she shared her detailed knowledge of the area.
High Falls Gorge: The High Falls Gorge on the Ausable River is unique in many ways, and surprisingly is privately owned. The series of waterfalls that make up the gorge travel more than two horizontal kilometres, with four million litres of water flowing through the gorge daily, and 10 times that in the flooding that followed hurricane Irene. Walkways perch perilously beside the waterfalls for dramatic views and photographs.
A boat tour is a great way to see the lake from a different point of view. The hour-long narrated tour travels 26 kilometres. You can see Adirondack wildlife and Whiteface Mountain, and see (and hear about) the stately manors situated along the shore. Lake Placid Boat Tours, Lake Placid Marina, 518-523-9704.
Shopping: Even though the outdoors beckons for many activities, shopping has its own special lure. A small outlet mall on Main Street houses Van Heusen, Bass Shoes, and Izod, and on the opposite side, a three-storey Gap outlet is located. The unusual bookstores, a quirky antique store and a unique hat shop – Where’d You Get That Hat? – are definitely worth checking out.
Stay: The Interlaken Inn, (www.theinterlakeninn.com), hosted by Mary Neary and John Aaarons, is ideally located, set back from the busy main street in a quiet residential area yet moments away to all activities. The inn has a regal and welcoming charm.
Filled with antiques, comfy chairs and sofas, the sitting and dining rooms are panelled with rustic Adirondack-style woods, set off by twinkling chandeliers. Attention is paid to detail where it counts, with Frette linens and robes, and toiletries by White Company of London for guests.
The Whiteface Lodge (www.thewhitefacelodge.com) opened in 2005 with a classic timber Adirondack look. This family-oriented lodge caters primarily to young families, boasting a movie theatre with three movies daily, a games room, a bowling alley, ice cream parlour, spa, and s’mores every evening at 9:30. It has indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs. All 94 suites have kitchens, washers and dryers and fireplaces, making it an ideal getaway spot for a family, either to be self-sufficient or partake of the extensive menu at the lodge’s grand restaurant.
The Lake Placid Board of Tourism, www.lakeplacid.com, sponsored Wren’s trip. For more details, check out her website, www.melodywren.com, and her travel blog, www.melodywren.wordpress.com.