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Fall AdirondacksNew York's Adirondack State Park

The Adirondacks are currently the largest state protected park and largest U.S. National Historic Landmark. These are fancy labels and we often gloss over them thinking it just means the U.S. or an individual state has made an effort to protect wild areas for public use; but take a little time online and try and appreciate what happened to these wilderness locations in our very recent history as a nation and what it has taken to save and try and restore all that was once lost in them.

TomAthenaLakeEatonFor example, in the Adirondacks every single moose was eliminated through over-hunting as well as other wildlife from the otter to the wolf. Of course most of us know how devastating timber harvesting practices can be; but the forest is in a period of great re-growth, moose are now coming back on their own; otters have been successfully re-introduced and seem to be thriving. The last wolf was reportedly shot in 1899 but we saw one as we were coming back from a fall trip in the park maybe eight years ago.

This NY State park covers over 6 million acres, mostly sparsely developed private lands of small communities housing over 130,000 permanent residents. 2.7 million of those acres belong to the State of New York. Of that 2.7 million, only 1 million is classified as wilderness.

SharonWith a dense concentration of mountains, lakes and rivers, the park's unique setting offers ample opportunities for a wide variety of outdoor recreation including flat water paddling, white water paddling, hiking, camping, downhill and cross country skiing. The multi-season, multi-sport, wild and not so wild locations of the Adirondacks makes for many options to fulfill diverse outdoor pursuits.

This means lots of places to stay, eat, camp, and lots of outdoor outfitting services. These realities are what make the park seem like a crazy mix of commerce, golf-courses and everything wild.

A "wild forest" classification governs the remaining 1.7 million acres. All efforts to accomplish this level of protection for one of the most remarkable natural areas of our country were hard fought on both sides and hard won.

Among the seven to ten million annual visitors to Adirondack park are, of course, our favorite kind of folks...namely: kayakers!

Why?

athena sharonOver 3,000 lakes and 30,000 miles of of streams and rivers, that's why! The Adirondack Mountain region was formed from the erosion of the Laurentian Glacier. Spring, Summer and Fall it draws kayakers and canoeist from all over the globe. You can read more about the "Laurentide ice sheet" here.

One annual event of interest is the Adirondack Canoe Classic or "The 90 Miler". This is a three day race following a trail of lakes and rivers from Old Forge to Saranac Lake. Not for the faint of heart, it involves over five miles of carries! The course is also now known as the first segment of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a subject worthy of many more articles here at TopKayaker.

WildCenterFor now we hope you will enjoy the prospects of a kayak adventure among some of the most beautiful wild settings we've ever enjoyed. One of our first expeditions was down the Bog River into Lowe's Lake. Other adventures include Stillwater Lake and the lovely little private oasis of Eaton. Long Lake is interesting to explore, and offers some nice accommodations for those not into camping with their kayaks.

The Wild Center is worth a stop to start learning about the park. There are interactive educational exhibits as well as outdoor events. They have an attractive, affordable cafeteria with good lunch offerings of organic and natural food options. Their web site has some wonderful detailed information, so take a look at www.wildcenter.org. They also offer daily canoe trips.

The trees surrounding many of our favorite lakes and rivers in the Adirondacks make them superb for fall foliage color. Staghorn sumac, red and sugar maples, all glowing against the beautiful evergreens are awe inspiring as you drive the winding roads to your launch destination and the show continues throughout your journey. For this reason our personal favoite for weeks to paddle in Adirondack State Park are the end of September through the first week of October. Here's more:

Travel Information:

  • Paddling Season: When the waters are free of ice: May - October
  • Busy Season: July - August
  • Bug Season: May - June
  • Fall Foliage Peak: Late September
  • Hunting Season: September - October

Outfitting:

Books & Maps:

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