Making plans for Lake Placid

You’re coming to Lake Placid, right? Glad you can make it! Here are few tidbits to help you plan your trip, starting with Lake Placid’s location and how to get there.
Lake Placid is in the north-central part of the Adirondack Park. This 6.1 million acre state park is half public land, including 1 million acres of designated wilderness. There are about 100,000 full-time residents in the Park, of which 2,700 live in Lake Placid. It’s a friendly crowd, though “crowd” is an overstatement. Whatever your backcountry activity, whether fishing, hunting, hiking, paddling or bird-watching, it’s likely you’ll have the woods to yourself. And I mean woods. Though many of the higher peaks have open rock summits, the region is better characterized by dense Northern forest (hardwoods and softwoods) at elevations below 2,500 feet, boreal forest (paper birch and conifers) up to 4,000 feet, or sub-alpine or alpine above 4,000 feet.
Geologically, the Adirondacks are a dome that’s 160 miles wide and a mile high. The tallest peaks are concentrated near Lake Placid, including the highest, Mount Marcy at 5,344 feet, which is also the highest mountain in New York state. Lake Champlain on the eastern boundary of the park is the lowest point at 98 feet. In between, you’ll find more than 2,000 miles of hiking trails; not only up mountains but also to many of the park’s 3,000 lakes and ponds. There’s also 30,000 miles of rivers and streams. (More on that in a future issue of Outdoors Unlimited.
The nearest commercial airport to Lake Placid is in Saranac Lake. Cape Air, the only carrier into Saranac Lake, flies eightseaters from Boston several times per day. If you like small aircraft, on a clear day you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the region. If you’re first on the plane, you can sit in the co-pilot’s seat. (There are no assigned seats and only one pilot.)
Locals generally fly in and out of Albany, N.Y., a destination for major domestic airlines such as United, Delta and US Airways. Plattsburgh is a closer, cheaper option if you have access to PenAir, Allegiant or Spirit Airlines. Here are the distances to Lake Placid from airports in the Northeast which might be good options depending on your preand post-conference plans:

  • Montreal, Quebec: 110 miles, (2 hours)
  • Albany, N.Y.: 140 miles, (2.5 hours)
  • Burlington, Vt.: 61 miles, (2 hours, including ferry across Lake Champlain)
  • Plattsburgh, N.Y.: 50 miles (1.25 hours)
  • Syracuse, N.Y.: 200 miles (4 hours)
  • New York, N.Y.: 290 miles (5.5 hours)

Ground transportation options include a rental car (highly recommended if you want to see more than Main Street Lake Placid); the Adirondack Trailways bus; or the Amtrak train. If you book an Amtrak ticket, choose Lake Placid as your destination even though the train itself doesn’t go to Lake Placid. That ticket will include a train ride to Westport, 45 minutes east of Lake Placid, as well as a pre-arranged bus ride from Westport to Lake Placid.
In case you’re wondering what to pack, my advice is to expect daytime highs between 50 degrees and 70 degrees. Bring a warm jacket, too. There will likely be frost overnight, and snow is certainly possible in the mountains. Though you should also pack rain gear: mid-September often brings a beautiful Indian summer to the Adirondacks.
The conference is early for peak fall foliage, which is usually the last week of September in the High Peaks region, through mid- October at lower elevations. However, a number of trees and shrubs will already display flaming reds, brilliant oranges and glowing yellows. Expect both Mother Nature and the Lake Placid CVB to put on a good show for us.
And don’t forget: If you donate $850 or more to OWAA’s 85th Anniversary campaign by Dec. 31, 2012, Jack Ballard and I will give you a private tour. See you there! ◊
A former OWAA board member and an award-winning television producer, writer and photographer, Lisa Densmore is local chair of the 2013 OWAA conference in Lake Placid, N.Y.

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