Editor's note: As we're coming into peak foliage season, I'm reminded of this blog highlighting a favorite family tradition. First published in fall of 2015, the sentiment remains true, and I can't wait to hit the road this weekend to see exactly what colors are currently on display!
It's tradition: Scenic Driving
Long before cell phones and high-speed internet, back in the day when you couldn't google directions, my dad and I had a Sunday ritual. We would leave our camp on Hoffman Mountain, and "go for a drive." My dad would proclaim this statement like clockwork, let's "go for a drive" ... when I was younger it brought on the sighed reply of "okayyyy" - I couldn't act like I enjoyed it, that wouldn't be cool. But honestly, we didn't have electricity or running water for many of our years at camp, so I never really minded these excursions into the world.
We would head out into the surrounding Schroon Lake back roads. No plan in mind - we'd just drive and stop when something looked interesting. We loved to explore the Adirondacks, and I have many memories of discovering cool things ranging from a ghost town to finding the perfect secret swimming spot.
This week on a beautiful early-fall day, in the tradition of my childhood, I took to the roads - with no solid plan in mind. I remembered that I used to love driving over Route 74 toward Ticonderoga (I confess it's because it was the closest "big" town, and had some cool things like a Fort to visit!). While this isn't a real back road, I was by myself today and on a bit of a time constraint, so the thought of getting really lost (a distinct possibility in my world) was weighing on my mind. Plus, if memory served, there was a place in the road where, at certain times of the year when the snow had melted or it had rained a lot and the lakes were full, it almost felt like you would tip the car into the water. I was going to go in search of that spot and see what I found on the way.
The sun is shining, the top is down on the Jeep, and the radio is playing - I am ready! Starting from the one-and-only light in town, located at the intersection of Routes 9N & 74 at the base of Exit 28 from the Northway, I head east toward Paradox. And, since a traditional Sunday drive is all about the view, I took lots of pictures for this blog - hey, they speak louder than words or something like that anyway, right!?
Today's only guiding principle: If it looks interesting, stop.
Playing it by ear, I was just meandering along when to the right I saw a trail marker and decided to stop. Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area!? Hey, I have read about this place - Spencer has written a family-friendly hiking blog about it... SOOOOO... this is how you get to Crane Pond and Pharaoh Lake!
Now, today's blog is about riding, not hiking, but I suddenly have a plan. I am going to check out any of the Trail Markers that catch my attention so when I have more time I can come back and hike the ones I am interested in.
I continue along 74 and not long after to the left I see my next trail marker. It indicates driving down a little road for 1.0 mile to reach Peaked Hill Pond. Sounds like a plan. I drive down a bumpy road that leads to an awesome boat launch I didn't know existed!
What a day to be on the lake! But... again... this is about the drive, so off to my next discovery! I head back up to 74 and take a left. A few more miles down the road I see my next big marker on the right side (who knew the 18 mile stretch between Ti & Schroon Lake would have this many public trails!?). It is another pull-off for the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, this time for the Short Swing Trail - yet another section of wilderness I remember reading a blog about!
I stop to talk to a few hikers at this juncture. I had noticed within a mile or so of getting to this spot that the air had become quite smoky and it smelled like campfire. The hikers asked me if I had noticed it - they were a bit concerned, it has been a dry season afterall. Luckily another passerby confirmed it was a controlled fire. We talked for a few more minutes and it was time for me to bid them happy trails. (*see addendum at bottom)
Off to my next stop. Where will it be? I don't know, but here we go... another right-hand turn is soon on the docket.
JACKPOT! Adirondack Treasure: Found
This, this is exactly what a Sunday drive is all about. If I see nothing else today, this week even, I am content. EAGLE LAKE Fishing Access Site. I don't usually fish, so I normally wouldn't stop at a Fishing Site. What a mistake I have been making. Big, BIG mistake. As soon as I pull in I am taken with the beauty of this serene little spot. There is a parking lot with a half-dozen or so vehicles - yet it is almost like I am here alone. The leaves are just starting to change colors, and I am drawn to the little dock.
I am so glad I decided to stop! To the left the lake opens up and in the distance I could just make out a couple of paddlers.
To the right was this beautiful, wild section of lake. I am not a fisherman - but I would guess the "big one" might be hiding in this picturesque section of the lake.
I sit for a few minutes and take in the view. I breathe deeply and appreciate every little detail of the day. I love the Adirondacks. I truly do. It doesn't matter that I left the house a bit stressed this morning, as I take in my surroundings I can be nothing but thankful for all the peace I am afforded by just walking out of my door and into nature. Goodbye, stress.
I am soon joined by another traveler. We exchange beautiful day pleasantries, and I decide to move on - it's time to let someone else enjoy the solitude.
View from the Road
I only have a few more minutes to spare before I must change direction and start making my way back toward home. So I decide I will drive for another couple of miles and then call it a day. And, that's when I see the sign (yes, I pulled over quickly to take a pic!) - this must be the place of my fall into the water memory!
And, there it is... Eagle Lake. Water on both sides and a fun little turn.
Fortunately I was able to pull over & snap pics from the side. Unfortunately, before I actually made it the best viewing spot in the center of the lake, there was traffic around me. So, you'll just have to take the trip yourself and enjoy the actual view!
I drove a bit further and came to my last trail marker spot - this is on the right before the road starts climbing in anticipation of its long descent into Ticonderoga.
I didn't drive in to Putnam Pond this time, I reluctantly needed to turn around and I had already pushed 10-minutes past my designated self-imposed time limit. However this is a great place to hit the next time you're in the area, I camped there a couple of years ago and it's quite a nice little spot for the family. There are a good number of trails that start from the parking lot, and some amazing views.
Whether you decide to get out and explore on foot, or enjoy the view from the comfort of the car, Schroon Lake Region has so many great roads to explore. I urge you to get out and discover your own secret spots - of course, you should take lots of pics and share them on our Schroon Lake Region FB page!
Hit The Road
I am so grateful that my Dad introduced me to the Adirondacks when I was a child. Oh, the memories! Ready to make your own? Book your lodging now - the next few weeks are a great time to catch the fall foliage in full splendor!
In related ADK autumn outlook news: