An Upstate State of Mind
|UPSTATE’S YELLOW-BRICK ROAD: The route carving through the Adirondacks in Lewis County (courtesy, Adirondack Regional Tourism Council)|
On the Road
One more hour on the "Northway" (I-87) and you pass Schroon Lake and enter the High Peaks Region of Adirondack Park. Kill the engine in Keene Valley, a small town with great access to the peaks. The Keene Valley Lodge provides a traditional Adirondacks bed & breakfast experience and is conveniently located close to the Mountaineer, a gear shop that can provide valuable information on nearby climbing, hiking, or mountain biking. Fuel up with breakfast at the Noonmark Diner, a classic greasy spoon.
A Bit of History
Adirondack Park, which spans six million acres and is roughly the size of Vermont, is the one of the largest public protected areas in the country. Geologically, the Adirondacks are part of the Canadian Shield, the only mountains in the eastern United States not within the Appalachian Range. Though the peaks' bald, rounded summits give the impression of an old, worn-down mountain range, they are in fact relatively young, growing at the rate of 1.5 millimeter every year. Ecologically, the park is varied, with coniferous boreal forest in the north and deciduous forests in the south. Keene Valley is located in the High Peaks Region, so named because it contains all of the Adirondack peaks with elevations over 4,000 feet (give or take a few). In particular, the town provides great access to the Great Range, a line of peaks that includes the highest point in New York, 5,344-foot Mount Marcy. Above treeline, many of these peaks are home to delicate alpine environments with mosses and lichens amazingly resistant to the harsh weather.
Highlight: Big Slide Mountain
One the most awe inspiring day hikes is to the summit of Big Slide Mountain via the Brothers with a return via Slide Mountain Brook Trail and Southside Trail (9.5 miles round trip). Leave from the Garden trailhead (early bird gets the parking spot) and follow the blue DEC markers for the Big Slide Trail. A steep 1.7-mile climb takes you past ledges with fantastic views of Keene Valley and the Great Range and to the summit of the First and Second Brother. Continue another mile to reach the summit of the Third Brother, which offers a stellar view of Big Slide Mountain. Continue through a spruce forest and cross a large stream before beginning the steep climb to the summit of Big Slide. The summit stands at 4,240 feet and offers an unforgettable view of the surrounding peaks. Loop back to the Garden on the very lovely Slide Mountain Brook and Southside Trail. Midway back to the Garden, look for an offshoot trail leading to the Tenderfoot Pools, a great swimming hole with large flat rocks on which to sun. This trail can be a bit wet in the springtime, so be ready for some stream crossings.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication