It is that time of year again- the time when the world reminds us just how stunning mother nature can be. That’s right, it’s Autumn foliage time and this year really solidified to me that nowhere truly does it like The Adirondacks. Seriously- it’s got everything, the foliage, the small towns, the outdoor activities, but also plenty to do if you’re not into that- EVERYTHING. Last year we rv’d to Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain, and we would have RV’d to this year’s location, but our schedules just didn’t really permit that to happen. So, instead we took two nights to go the North Creek/Gore Mountain area. To compare a bit between the two (you can read about our Lake Placid trip HERE) …
Geographically Lake Placid is in the more Northeastern section of the Adirondacks, whereas North Creek/Gore Mountain is in the Southeastern section. We live on the middle Western section of The Adirondacks- just outside of the region.
In terms of peak foliage, we were in the region for the Peak Colors of the season this year. Peak can last anywhere from a day to a week- there are so many factors at play. Last year we missed the full-on peak by maybe a few days. Once the leaves start to fall, they all tend to come down fairly fast. Last year was a much rainier season, so they fell earlier, whereas this year it’s been a bit dryer, they’ve stayed a bit longer, even if they started popping color earlier.
I will say, I still think RV’ing or renting a small cabin in a wooded spot or along the lakes is the way to go. You can fully immerse in all the Autumnal Glory that way in a way that staying in a hotel doesn’t quite provide.
Now, on to our actually trip. Like I said, this year we headed to the Gore Mountain/North Creek area. We really booked this location to go rail biking with Revolution Rail. This is something I’ve wanted to do since finding out we were going to be living in Upstate NY. They’ve got fantastic locations out here, and the rides are great. You can find their website HERE. However, we booked an afternoon ride on Saturday, so we had all Saturday morning to enjoy the area.
Saturday morning my husband decided to surprise us with a gondola ride and morning at Gore Mountain. Gore Mountain is home to New York’s largest ski resort. It boasts 4 Unique Peaks with a large, varied number of trails down the mountains. Dating back to 1934 (with development in 1964) and the only still operating Gondola in New York State, Gore Mountain is constantly updating, upgrading, and adjusting both its trails and the operating systems and lodges to meet the future. And- if you’re truly an expert skier, Gore Mountain has a trail that is a 70% pitch, one of the steepest in the East.
We took a lift up to the top of one of the peaks to take in the beauty of Autumn in The Adirondacks. Honestly, I think the best time to see the actual sea of colors is while you are on the lift (I thought this with Whiteface too- the drive up is where you’ll get the best opportunity to capture that “sea” effect), but the view from the top is pretty incredible too. Plus, there was snow on the top! So, we got to experience that as well! If you’re interested, most of the ski mountains offer both mountain biking and hiking throughout the summer and fall season, something to keep in mind!
While we were at Gore Mountain, they were having their Harvest Festival, so we were able to enjoy live music, vendors from a wide variety of businesses, and some fun games. It made for a fun kick off morning.
From there we headed down to North Creek NY for the event that we really came to this area for- Rail Biking along the Hudson River. When I had first learned that we were getting stationed in Upstate NY (after I got over all the feelings of leaving Germany) I knew that I wanted to go rail biking. It really just seemed like a fun and unique experience. Now, there are a couple different companies and locations for rail biking, but we decided to go with Revolution Rail. They offered a rail biking experience right in the “heart” of The Adirondacks and would give us a new way to experience the autumn foliage. I recognize that this is one of those things that is…very “us” as a family, but we actually really loved it.
So, Revolution Rail was started in 2016 in North Creek NY. They launched in 2017 with 6 railbikes. The general idea is to turn the unused old railroad tracks into an opportunity. The railbike is either two or four seats and sits comfortably on the track. The ride itself is actually relatively easy- more comfortable than biking (because you’re on an actual seat) and any time it gets difficult- which is none- all you have to do is marvel at the world around you and it gets easy again. The railbikes are able to accommodate just about anyone- we had a wide variety of ages and skill level (you’re in a group of 10-20 bikes) and they are able to allow babies in strapped on carriers (like an ergo or bjorn). Revolution Rail is not only in New York, they offer trails in Colorado and New Jersey (and I think I might have seen one other location coming soon). Both the Colorado and New York locations offer special combined experiences- usually involving the rail biking and a water experience.
We did the South River Run ride which was a little over 2 hours (I would say about 2.5). We rode about 3.5 miles, stopped for a break and history chat, then biked the 3.5 miles back. It was incredibly beautiful and an experience that I honestly would repeat again and again. The boys weren’t able to pedal (they could barely reach- so we told them to relax and enjoy the ride) and Robert and I didn’t have any issues leisurely pedaling. I just can’t say enough fun good things about this little adventure, I highly recommend it.
From there we wandered through the main street of North Creek, checking out the glassblowing- super cool- and other little shops. We stopped for dinner and headed back to the motel for the evening.
The next morning, we packed up and headed out to make our way back home. We stopped at one more place though before reaching our home- The Adirondack Experience. The Adirondack Experience is a museum spread across a tract of land that walks visitors through the history, the use, and the relationship between the people and the wilderness of the Adirondacks. The land was originally purchased in 1867 by a Connecticut Farmer who used the land for a logging and lumbering operations. When The Adirondacks started to become a popular tourist spot, Tyler Merwin (the son of Miles Merwin who originally purchased the land) allowed for overnight guests. In 1880 he built a hotel on the location with the hotel growing to house 100 guests in 1907. While visiting the Experience, you are actually able to see and walk in the Log Hotel, originally of 1876 and named on the National Register of Historic Places. The Blue Mountain House continued in operations until the twentieth century- though it switched owners. In 1948 the hotels new owner, William Wessels, teamed up with Harold K Hochschild, a business exec and amateur historian, to form the Adirondack Historical Association. The original Adirondack Museum opened in August 1957 with the goal of showing the relationship between humans and the wilderness of the Adirondacks. The Experience features not only several buildings of exhibits, but also a steamboat, a railroad engine and passenger car, a stagecoach, canoe, and several other horse drawn vehicles.
So, we actually spent a good 3-4 hours just exploring the grounds and learning all about the Adirondack region as a whole. The experience is very self-guided, with tour guides within exhibits from time to time. We started with the Boats & boating and learned about the evolution of the boating industry as it related to the Adirondacks (boats used to be the only way to get around!). We wandered over to the kids cabin and schoolhouse, where the boys got to experience not only what the schoolhouse offered, but also the various responsibilities kids had back in the early 1900’s. We wandered through Sunset Cottage, and the exterior of Log Hotel, which was closed at the time, as well as the Artist’s Cottage. The Life in the Adirondacks talked a lot about how man tried to work with the land, as well as the Indigenous Peoples of the regions. I would say this was one of the more interesting buildings of the group. We stopped at the river pavilion, which is where the steamboat and train are housed, headed up to bull Cottage, which aside from maybe being a bit small for us, is really our dream location. Finally, we stopped at the Work in the Woods, which talks about the logging industry, in both good and bad terms. It was well worth the stop, and they have a good number of hands on and hands off options.
All in all- Leaf-Stravaganza 2022 was a big success (that’s what I’m calling this moving forward…). I truly don’t know if there is anything out there that can compare to Autumn in Upstate New York- it’s magical. I’m sharing every bit of the excitement and beauty over on Instagram- @acuppacosy, so follow there for the day-to-day beauty (even though we are past peak).