When hearing the term New York, most people immediately think of the bounty that is New York City. While there is no doubt this is a fascinating place, there is an abundant state beyond the five boroughs. Today, we’ll take a trip to the Adirondack Park, and one of the many jewels which can be found there – Old Forge. So, let’s take a weekend jaunt and see what can be discovered.
Where is Old Forge?
Old Forge is situated in the foothills of the massive Adirondack Park, and is just a few hours’ drive from either the City or the Canadian border. It is a quaint hamlet sustained to a large degree by tourism, and the whims of Mother Nature.
In summer, the streets are brimming with vacationers and others looking for the solace and quiet of the mountains and lakes, camping, and hiking, and a multitude of other outdoor pursuits. In autumn, when the leaves are in full color, the splendor of the mountains are breathtaking. Taking a ride up McCauley Mountain on the chairlift takes your breath away. In winter, skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing are the main attractions. Springtime is the renewal for all.
All Season Getaway
Nature and outdoors are very much the name of the game in this area. Naturally, the timing of your visit will determine the best options for things to do. Summer provides camping and fun activities for the whole family. Old Forge is home to New York’s largest waterpark, Enchanted Forest. Conveniently located right next door to the waterpark is a campground, where you can either rent cabins or bring your own RV or other camping equipment. There are also other State campsites in the area too. Not much of a camper? No worries. Plan to stay in one of the several hotels located in the area. There are accommodations for any budget. There are also many vacation rentals in and around the area.
Just as the waterpark closes for the season, autumns colors come alive in the Adirondack Park. Take the chairlift up McCauley Mountain to see for yourself. Grab a light jacket and take a boat cruise through the Fulton Chain of Lakes. Enjoy a ride on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.
There is plenty to do in the winter and spring as well. Old Forge often records some of the lowest temperatures in New York during the winter season. Skiers and snow lovers flock here during the winter months. As winter turns into spring, the entire area buds, and blooms for the coming summer.
Favorite Personal Memories
Having lived in Central New York most of my life, Old Forge was always a favorite destination. Whether it was for a couple of days, or for a bit longer, it was never a disappointment.
When the children were young, camping in Old Forge was a common activity. Some weekends, we would head out with our pop-up camping trailer to Nick’s Lake state campground. The kids would be fascinated by the journey to the top of Mt. McCauley. Or the boat cruise. Or just a trip into town for ice cream and to feed the ducks on Old Forge Pond. To watch fireworks on the 4th of July. Other times, we would camp at Enchanted Forest, so we could spend the days inside the waterpark and the nights around a campfire. Head to the local museum or arcade – there was always something to do.
Likely our all-time favorite is a hike up Bald Mountain, or as it is officially called – Rondaxe Mountain. Our family has a special connection to this mountain, as my children’s grandfather was once the Fire Tower Ranger on this mountain. In the 1950’s, he and his wife and two young children lived on top of the mountain in a one-room cabin, during the spring/summer months. He did his duties as Ranger and was proud and knowledgeable in this role. He would greet the hikers on their trip to the summit, keep track and note of any potential dangers, and monitor all from the height of 2350’.
Each year, it would be tradition to spend at least a couple of days in Old Forge and make the trek up the mountain. The views are phenomenal and the remnants of their grandmother’s flower garden on the peak would be an endless source of fascination.
Those kids are now adults and some with children/teenagers of their own. Just this past summer, during a visit back to my home state, I again made the hike up the mountain. It’s been a number of years, and not being as young as I used to be, it took a bit longer. But once I reached the top, it reminded me of all the reasons why it was a favorite. The view was simply stupendous on a beautiful summer day. Sitting on the ledge with my teenage grandchildren, looking out and around from the peak, was simply as wonderful and peaceful as I remember.
If you make the hike to the top, be sure not to just climb the Tower and sit on the ledge. There are other secrets on the mountain. Be sure to walk around the flat spots at the peak. You’ll find what my family refers to as Balance Rock. It is a huge boulder that appears to be ready to roll right off the mountain – and provides a fabulous photo opportunity!
Descending from the top was always rather bittersweet. But we knew our consolation was in the ice cream cones we would have as a reward for a mountain well climbed. When you get to the bottom and sign out in the guestbook, be sure to look on the bulletin board. You will see a postcard of a couple, sitting at the front of their cabin on top of the mountain. You will see a rendering of my family.
Something for Everyone
Whatever the season or family dynamic, there is something in Old Forge that will appeal to you. Take a few days, and travel to this lovely Gateway to the Adirondacks. You won’t be disappointed.
For more information on Old Forge – click here
A short article on my in-laws – click here