Hiking is one of the most satisfying ways to experience the Central Adirondacks. Hikers in this area — which includes the hamlets of Old Forge, Inlet, Eagle Bay, Big Moose, and Stillwater– can take advantage of a diverse 2,000- mile trail system, with hikes that include steep mountain ascents, pond-and lake-circling loops, and destination walks to special spots begging to be explored. Hikers of every age, ability and comfort level will find something to suit their tastes in the Central Adirondacks. One of the area’s unique features is that while it is nestled amongst the mountains, there are also plenty of low-grade loop hikes in the area. Flat, beginner-level hikes can be ideal when schedules are tight and the mercury is high, and more forgiving for families with pets and small children. Located just few miles outside of Inlet, Lost and Mitchell Ponds require a drive into the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, but the 2- and 3.8-mile routes, respectively, are considered easy and suitable for beginners. The trail to Lost Pond, a favorite fishing spot, follows a circuit of campsites and picnic areas, and branches off into spur trails, including one that leads to an outlet dam and another that reaches a remote, boggy pond, providing the opportunity for hours of exploration. Mitchell Pond (the former camp of World War I veteran Robert West) is an experience in the seclusion of nature that affords hikers views of the area’s unique cliff faces. There’s also the opportunity to add on a 5.8-mile spur excursion to Lower Mitchell Pond, where additional picnic and observation areas frame another gorgeous Adirondack shoreline. West of Eagle Bay on Big Moose Rd., you’ll find ever-popular Moss Lake, a 2.5 mile loop that follows the path used at a girls’ camp that was formerly housed on the site. The trail crosses over bridges and sandy areas as well as past the landmark of an tree growing out of a rock, and its proximity to the water makes for excellent vistas all the way around. The Moss Lake trailhead is also one starting point for the Bubb and Sis Lakes trails, with the other on Route 28 between Old Forge and Eagle Bay. Bubb and Sis Lakes can be hiked on their own or as an extension of the Moss Lake loop—if combined, the excursion becomes a 6.5-mile trek. Bub and Sis share their Route 28 trailhead with the Vista Trail, which traces the ridgeline around Fourth Lake for its namesake–excellent vistas. Just across the road from Moss Lake’s parking area lies the Cascade Lake trailhead, a family favorite that demands a photo op. The 5.5-mile trail winds around a lake and through the woods before revealing excellent views of Cascade Falls, a local icon; visible remnants of another girls’ camp- which stood here in the 1930s – adds an historical aspect to the journey. Cascade Lake’s trailhead is also a starting point for a network of additional trails, so tacking on extra miles of exploring is easy to do. There are plenty of trails to explore toward Old Forge, too; on Route 28, between Eagle Bay and Old Forge, the 8/10-mile Fly Pond trail passes Scenic Mountain as well as Fly, Carry Mountain, and Mountain ponds on gentle terrain. Within Old Forge itself, the 6.4-mile Nick’s Lake Loop at Nick’s Lake Public Campground accommodates hikers looking for a longer trail on flat terrain and offers plentiful views, from marshy areas to beaches to a boardwalk. Because the trail goes through the Nicks Lake Public Campground , visitors can extend their trek with a walk around one of the many loops or enjoy a break at a picnic area. Nick’s Lake’s beach is a perfect spot to stop and take a swim. A favorite mountain bike trail to Nelson Lake also begins here, which hikers can use as well. A walk of 3.5 miles will bring hikers to Remsen Falls, with an 11.5-mile loop trail option for the more adventurous souls. Hikers that enjoy a steeper trek can take advantage of the intermediate climbs on Bald, Bear and Rocky Mountains, all located on Route 28 just south of Inlet. Rocky Mountain is a one-mile round trip, with a fairly easy ascent that winds through pretty forest before leveling out at a rocky outcropping that overlooks the Fulton Chain of Lakes. Black Bear Mountain, which shares Rocky’s parking lot, offers hikers the option of a 3.8-mile round trip or a shorter 2.1-mile alternate trail with steeper spots along the ascent. At the end of either path, the summit offers similar views to Rocky Mountain’s, and it’s easy—even popular—to complete the hikes one after the other for a new twist. Bald Mountain, one of the most popular hikes in the area, winds through woods and over interesting rock slopes for a two-mile round trip with the Bald Mountain Fire Tower, part of the Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge, perched at the top for maximum views. In Old Forge, McCauley Mountain, famous for the skiing opportunities it provides in the winter and the scenic chairlift that runs in the summer and fall, is also a prime hiking destination.
Expert-level Trail A runs about 5.2 miles and includes views of McCauley itself as well as Perry’s Pond and Little Moose Mountain; intermediate Trail B is 3.5 miles long and passes by nearby Gray Lake on its way toward Maple Ridge and back to McCauley. Inlet’s Arrowhead Park, Old Forge’s community waterfront, and Nick’s Lake and Limekiln Lake state campgrounds all provide paved paths to walk, and the ambitious can even trek the 15-mile roadside walk along twisting South Shore Road, which connects Inlet and Old Forge and passes by each of the first four lakes in the Fulton Chain with a handful of vistas and pond- or lakeside stops.
An Adirondack vacation is the perfect time to try something new or relive favorite memories, but sometimes it can be challenging to fit everything you want to do into one trip. That’s why day trips are an excellent way to experience all the diversity that the Central Adirondack region has to offer. They can include almost any activity, so piece together different activities and ideas to form an itinerary for a few hours or a few days, or mix and match old favorites with new experiences to create your most memorable vacation yet. What you choose is up to you; there’s plenty for everyone in the Central Adirondacks!
Woods & Water: One of the most famous draws to the area, outdoor opportunities in the Central Adirondacks are favored by legions of new and returning Adirondack visitors. The area’s variety of outdoor recreation opportunities is immense, but here are some good places to start. Hikers can choose anything from level, flat lake and trail loops to steeper mountain grades to trek, and there’s no shortage of routes around.
Cyclists can take advantage of Old Forge’s extensive snowmobile trail system, which becomes a recreational mountain biker’s playground once the snow melts. Follow the trail system laid out on the snowmobile maps and create a customized route, or take a spin on the trails that run close to Carter Station for a few miles of wooded rides with ponds to stop by for a rest or a picnic. Dedicated trail networks for each level of cyclist are available at Fern Park, Maple Ridge, and McCauley Mountain. And road bikers rejoice: the loop that Route 28 and South Shore Road forms around the first four lakes in the Fulton Chain is an excellent excursion. South Shore has much less traffic and gentler hills, while Route 28 is best for a more experienced biker due to higher traffic volume and steeper grades. This stretch connects Old Forge to Inlet, and there are plenty of things to do and see along the way; take advantage of the fun that one town has to offer, and then hop on your bike and head to the other.
Paddling is extra-sweet in the Central Adirondacks. Over 12 miles of the upper section of the Moose River are open for flatwater paddling from various put-ins with only one portage. Furthest upstream, near Eagle Bay, Rondaxe Road’s bridge is a great launch; just outside of Old Forge, at North Street, the red, white and blue bridge is an excellent start. Green Bridge, further downstream, has a put-in spot as well. If lakes sound more appealing, check out the put in at smaller lakes like Moss, or take on the Fulton Chain. The First through Fourth Lake segment sees more motor traffic, but Seventh and Eighth lakes, just past Inlet, offer more in the way of secluded paddling. Big Moose Lake is a short drive from Eagle Bay and provides a quiet paddling experience. A few miles past Big Moose, Stillwater Reservoir features dozens of designated campsites on one of the most remote and pristine bodies of water in the Adirondacks. Stillwater provides enough exploratory opportunities for a week, but smaller sections can be explored in an afternoon. Motor traffic is allowed, but stays largely within the designated channel, and the fishing is some of the best in the area. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, try whitewater rafting. Whitewater Challengers and Adirondack River Outfitters run trips suited for adventurers of every skill and experience level on the Moose River from May to October.
Tours and Attractions: For a different take on nature, take off for a scenic seaplane ride or saddle up for a horseback ride. Seaplane rides from Seventh Lake allow a one-of-a-kind view of the Adirondacks. The extensive trail network in the region provides enough terrain for anything from an hour of horseback riding to a full-day adventure, and trips to Cascade Lake, Cascade Falls, Moss Lake or a general Adirondack woods tour are popular options. Those who crave a bird’s eye view of the area but don’t want to hit the trail or board a plane can still take in the sights at the McCauley Mountain chairlift, which remains open during the summer for scenic rides. The views extend to the whole Fulton Chain, and the ride is an excellent way to take in world-class Adirondack views without a strenuous hike.
Enchanted Forest/Water Safari in Old Forge is one of the area’s most famous attractions, and New York State’s largest water theme park has earned its reputation as one of the best. The park offers more than 50 rides, including over 30 water rides. Games, food, a petting zoo and a kids’ area round out the selection to make this an all-ages favorite stop. They also offers stay-and-play packages with the Old Forge Camping Resort and the Water’s Edge Hotel, for those looking to make the experience last longer than a day.
The Loomis Brothers’ modern-day counterparts “rob” the Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s passenger train on scheduled rides throughout the summer. This unique ride is ideal for adventurous kids and adults alike, or anyone who has wondered what the 1800s were like in the Adirondacks. Scenic boat tours along the Fulton Chain range from two to four hours and choices include sunset, sightseeing, and heritage cruises; and on certain summer nights, fireworks cruises. Other unique options include a mail boat tour, where up to ten passengers can ride along on a narrated historical tour with stops to deliver mail to lakeshore homes.
Museums and Art: Local museums and galleries make the Central Adirondacks a culture enthusiast’s playground. Old Forge’s new Arts Center, the View, is a local treasure. A brand new, eco-friendly building was unveiled in 2010. Beautiful architecture and a state-of-the-art facility are just a few the View’s highlights. With an extensive list of exhibits and a growing list of workshops and classes, the View is the nucleus of the Central Adirondack arts community. Nearby, local artists and business owners form a patchwork of unique art shops and galleries in Old Forge and Inlet, each with its own distinctive feel. Set aside a few hours to explore, and you’re sure to walk away with a new understanding of the area, its arts and culture, and even a new piece of artwork for your collection.
Those looking to get a glimpse into the area’s history will be pleased to find the variety of resources available to them here. In Old Forge, Town of Webb Historical Association’s Goodsell Museum is includes an Adirondack exhibit, and the museum’s research library houses an extensive collection of books, maps, vintage photographs, business records and genealogy records are all available to the public.
Shopping and Dining: Shopping and dining in the Central Adirondacks provide as much diversity as outdoor pursuits do. Specialty stores, souvenir shops, bookstores, clothing stores, art galleries, craft shops and more line the streets, providing hours of browsing potential. Locally created Adirondack-inspired art, books, jewelry and souvenirs can be found behind every window and storefront. Some shops, like Old Forge Hardware, even boast a bit of local history themselves; the “Adirondacks’ Most General Store” is housed in an historic building, constructed in 1922.
When stomachs start to growl, remember that the area has no shortage of pubs, restaurants, ice cream stands and other eateries. Main Street Station from Big Moose and Tony Harper’s from Raquette Lake bring a taste of the Adirondack’s favorite establishments into Old Forge. You’ll find authentic Italian at Billy’s Restaurant, American fare at the Old Mill and diner classics and local specialties at Walt’s Diner. A gourmet bistro with vegetarian and vegan offerings, a full-service coffee shop and a variety of pubs and diners round out the sit-down options. Ice cream stands and arcades offer informal fare. Stop by Old Forge’s Montezuma Winery for a tasting of all their signature varieties, including a honey wine called mead and a variety of summery fruit-based options. Pick up a bottle of wine then stop by one of the local farmer’s markets to gather the rest of your picnic. Old Forge’s Farmer’s Market, behind Main Street on Joy Tract Road, is open from 2 – 6 every Friday of the summer season and provides shopping as well as a chance to pick up the freshest ingredients and try some new foods. Inlet’s ongoing produce market boasts a selection of plants and flowers in addition to its fresh food offerings for an extra splash of summer.
However you choose to spend your time here, be sure to take time to sample every chance for vacation fun that can be found in the Central Adirondacks. With just a little bit of planning, it’s easy to create the perfect trip to suit your tastes and keep you coming back for many summers to come!
Old Forge is the perfect summer destination, no matter what you and your family enjoy doing. Situated in the heart of the Adirondacks, Old Forge blends the breathtaking outdoor appeal of the Adirondacks with all the charm and amenities that small, rustic hamlets have to offer. What makes the Adirondacks different from other mountain regions is the abundance of lakes and rivers. Old Forge, situated at the start of the Fulton Chain of Lakes and the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, is the perfect place to enjoy the water. Boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, or swimming – whatever your favorite water sport is you can enjoy it here. If you don’t have your own boat you can buy or rent everything from canoes to motor boats at local outfitters and marinas. And if you’re looking for adventure Whitewater Challengers and ARO offer guided whitewater trips on the the Moose River. On the land, Old Forge is home to a wide variety of hiking trails that take you to remote ponds, quiet forests and mountain tops. If your feet want to take a vacation, look into a mountain biking excursion for a fun twist on exploring the great outdoors—rentals are available at Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company for those who didn’t bring their own bike.
New this summer, Montezuma Winery is opening a gift shop and will feature tastings of their award winning wines. Local eateries offer everything from ice cream and burgers to cafes, bistros, full service restaurants. New this summer, Montezuma Winery features tastings of their award winning wines and a gift shop. Entertainment is on the agenda with special events, concerts, and Enchanted Forest/Water Safari. Over 30 water rides, plus a dry-land amusement park complete with a daily circus will keep you smiling all day. With a setting like this, you’ll find sightseeing is a must. Hop aboard the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, but be careful – the Loomis Gang and Bonnie & Clyde rob the train twice a week. Cruise the Fulton Chain with Old Forge Lake Cruises. They offer sightseeing, dining, and specialty cruises. If that isn’t enough you can also ride along on the Old Forge mail boat’s delivery route. It’s the longest running fresh water mail route in the country. And if trains and boats don’t move you, try the scenic chair lift at McCauley Mountain. To round out your Old Forge experience, visit the public tennis court and beach, the Thendara Golf Course, and the new arts center View, which features gallery exhibits, workshops, art shows, and theater. Rainy days aren’t a problem either: there is a four-screen movie theater in town, as well as history and art museums. With all of these things do see and do you’ll need to stay awhile. Luckily, Old Forge has all types of lodging. Motels, cabins, cottages, bed and breakfasts, house rentals, or tent and trailer sites await your call. What are you waiting for? It’s time to visit Old Forge for some real summer fun!