Adirondacks Park, Northeastern New York State
Adirondacks Park is large — 6 million acres, in fact, and although it is a designated protected area by the State of New York, it is not a state administered park. Instead, the hundreds of campgrounds scattered across the park are individually run either privately or by various public entities. The park’s lack of having a central authority and website made researching where we wanted to camp within the 6 million acres challenging. Not that there’s a lack of information on the internet; there is tons of information across numerous websites that we found a bit overwhelming.
We knew we wanted a semi-secluded lakeside campsite close to hiking trails. After many hours of research spread over several weeks, we settled on Little Sand Point located in the south-central part of the park. Its website included a couple of picturesque lake photos and one of a campsite. The description of the campground included the words “serenity”, “nestled” and “secluded.”
To get there, we chose a 150 mile driving route from Plattsburgh, New York that entered the park from the north and took us directly through the middle of the park, along several lakes and through numerous small towns — we were surprised at how rustic and isolated some of the communities seemed. Although the road was a bit rough for having bicycles on the back, it was a lovely drive. It is easy to imagine the area as a giant beautiful bouquet of color in the fall.
We arrived at the Little Sand Point campground about 5 p.m. to find that campsites were about 100 feet off of the main highway and that our site was located directly below where the campground’s dirt road turned around. There were car tracks where someone had missed turning that led directly to where we were to pitch our tent! Although our site was directly on beautiful Lake Piseco, it was also located next to a house with a barking dog and an upset baby. The campground was mostly vacant so we walked through other sites looking for a better option. We found no site with a level tent area, decent fire pit, nor any that were “serene” or “nestled.”
After about 45 minutes of weighing our best options and trying to be positive about this campground, we climbed back into the Escape Mobile and headed north. Our plan was to stay in Lake Placid unless we found a lodge or cottages along the route where we felt we’d be comfortable.
Lake Placid, New York
We arrived in Lake Placid about 9:00 p.m. with no place to stay. Trey cruised Main Street a couple of times looking for vacancy signs while I searched from my phone. Out of frustration, we pulled off of Main into a parking lot and connected a laptop to our mobile Wi-Fi. Initial results for the few name brand hotels were well over budget, and, I suspect due to the late hour, calls we made to locally owned lodges were not answered.
Just as I began to worry about our situation, I was startled by a sudden knocking and the appearance of a disheveled man at my passenger side window. A better look at his face revealed that there was no need to worry and I rolled down the window. In a British accent he asked us if we needed help. I explained that we were just looking for a place to stay. Turns out, the parking lot was for a lodge, Wildwood on the Lake, and was owned by the family of the gentleman’s wife – he handled maintenance and supervised the cleaning staff. He had just stepped outside to make sure something was locked when he spotted us.
He stated that he had a couple of rooms available, that he would ask his wife to reopen the office, and that they’d give us good deal. This is just one example of several on our North America travels where the solution found us – when and wherever we had a significant need, the universe quickly responded.
We were most grateful, and ended up spending three restful nights on the bank of beautiful Lake Placid. The inn was rustic, quiet and clean, and its stretch of shoreline more than provided the peaceful lakeside experience we had sought.
Lake Placid’s Main Street is the city’s business and tourist center and runs along the west bank of Mirror Lake – not Lake Placid.
Although Lake Placid is nearby, it is the much smaller Mirror Lake that is the hub for water related recreation, lakeside dining and accommodations.
We enjoyed strolling and window shopping along Main Street. This charming city is a mix of early 20th century buildings at its center, bookended by expansions resulting from the 1980’s Winter Olympics economic boost.
Both the 1936 and 1980 Olympic Centers sit at the south end of Main along with the outdoor skating area where Eric Heiden won five gold medals for the U.S.
The original 1936 center is now a museum commemorating both the games.
The village now hosts an annual Iron Man competition. This was the cause for our difficulty in finding accommodations. Athletes were beginning to arrive to acclimate and train for the July 27th race.
One afternoon we rented a canoe and slowly paddled around the perimeter of the Mirror Lake — two swim lanes had been set up in the middle of the lake for the Iron Man competition and several swimmers were using them.
When we completed our circle the sun was low in the sky and the other watercraft and swimmers were heading to shore. We instead headed to the middle point of the lake to get check out the swim lanes. Soon after, we found that we were alone on the lake – it was entirely ours. A gift.
As stated in the “About” page of this blog, Trey and I both were responsible for the care of our ailing parents. Over a period of 10 years from April of 2001 to August of 2011, we did our best to ensure they were safe, well cared for, and maintained the best quality of life possible despite their various diseases. The latter part of this period was particularly stressful. A frequent fantasy of mine was to row a canoe out to the middle of a calm, empty lake and simply lie down in the canoe, look at the sky, and in that moment be responsible for nothing.
I have learned when one receives a gift, it should be embraced and appreciated fully. So, I laid down in the canoe, and simply admired the sky, feeling so very grateful for the peace that I now enjoy.
As for Lake Placid, we also experienced it via the Peninsula Nature Trails that wind through a landmass on the southern part of the lake. The trails provide a wonderful natural retreat within walking distance of the city.
The trails’ access point is not well marked – it is simply an unmarked road that appears to be a driveway and is located between the Comfort Inn and Howard Johnson’s restaurant.
The Village of Lake Placid is a bit off the beaten path, particularly for us Texans, but it was a wonderful refuge and allowed us to experience the beauty of the Adirondacks.
My favorite Lake Placid meal was enjoyed at Milano North. It was well out of our budget but at least we were satisfied that we received what we paid for. Milano North provided a comfortable, but upscale setting and, for me, the best formal fish dish experienced on our trip.
Trey preferred the spaghetti and meatballs at Jimmy’s 21, which offers an affordable and quality dining experience on Mirror Lake.
The Breakfast Club is a popular breakfast spot and we found that the food was well worth the wait we encountered on both of our visits — yes, it was good and reasonable enough to merit a return trip.