Five Fab Fall Viewpoints
Sep
28
2016

My favorite thing about fall in Saranac Lake is that it is possibly the best place in the world to revel in the amazing colors of autumn. I spent some formative years in a place with no change of seasons. Now, I love watching the leaves on the trees change colors, and also having so many trees that will happily do that for me.

These helpful trees are just the right mix of species to provide maximum range of gorgeous leaf colors, from the vibrant red of maples to the fluttery gold of birch. Then they're  complimented with the blue of mountain lakes and skies, and the earth tones of rugged rocks to set it off just so.

There are so many places where I love to view the leaves, but in the interest of easy access to the spectacular, I chose these five favorites. Each one has a special attraction.

River Walk

Our wonderful Saranac Lake Riverwalk is a paved path along the Saranac River that winds through parks. It combines a central location with easy access and abundant benches to sit upon.

The wide view offered by the riverfront allows a panorama of changing color along the Riverwalk. (Seen here at the beginning of the season.)

We can pick up the most beautiful fall leaf in the world, but mailing it to a friend will not sum up the loveliness of fall color. Which is why I always look for "frames" to show off the trees.

The river, with its stony banks, gives contrast. The hill, rising on the northwest side, gives an excellent vantage point for acres of different trees, often at different stages.

The RiverWalk is three miles round trip, but there are access points to downtown for the best of both worlds. (Seen here at the peak of the season.)

This is also a great choice for someone who needs wheelchair access or otherwise has mobility difficulties. The entrance behind the town buildings has a ramp, and the paved walk ends at the Tops parking lot, flush with the paved area, for pickup if need be.

Part of the Riverwalk is the boat launch for paddlers behind town hall. There's also St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, right downtown, for rentals. Either way, it's the easiest paddling in the area as the Saranac River, which flows north, carries us almost to Bloomingdale along lovely vistas and distant mountains.

Lake Colby

The north end of Saranac Lake is graced by Lake Colby, an extremely well-placed lake. The clover leaf shape gives it a gorgeous shoreline. Seen above is a shot I took last year, with the season well underway.

Lake Colby will always come through with early color for great paddling pleasure. (Early in the season.)

Of course, paddling is the best way to get the most of the color show in all four of Lake Colby's bays, but if you prefer to hike, try the Lake Colby Tracks trail. There is a lovely little park on the east side with picnic tables and benches.

With the wilderness to its west, it has a fantastic vantage point for Adirondack sunsets. Add a little extra color to our day of color.

Sunsets on Lake Colby are utterly spectacular. The geographic location is just right for this kind of beauty.

Launch paddling craft from the Lake Colby fishing access site on the north side of the lake off Route 86. See our blog post about fishing and paddling Lake Colby.

CHURCH POND

One great thing about Church Pond is how it's so easy to find and enjoy. Access is by a little seasonal road which is between Route 86 and 30, right at Paul Smiths College. It may be only a half-mile long, but its smallness can be deceptive.

Church Pond is a perfect little stop for photos, paddling, or both!

It is a favorite photography spot of mine because the far shoreline is just the right distance away to balance out the leaves, the water, and the sky. If we set out in a canoe or kayak, we can find that the journey can be as short, or as long, as we wish.

Church Pond allows access to Osgood Pond, and through Jones Pond Outlet, to Jones Pond. Bring a lunch, because it might just keep on expanding.

The scenic glories of Osgood Pond include striking architecture of the classic Great Camp, White Pine Camp.

There's a definite advantage when we take to the water in the fall. We can paddle as close, or as far, as needed to get the best angles and distances. We get a much greater variety of landscapes, and we get there with a minimum of effort.

Some of our most stunning vistas can only be seen from the water.

Heron Marsh Trail

There's incredible hiking at the Paul Smith's College VIC, and it is also one of the first places to show color. Out of the 25 miles of trails available there, the one that really shows off in autumn is the Heron Marsh Trail.

A wonderland of different eco-systems and a lot of different vantage points makes Heron Marsh a must-hike trail.

This trail really brings home the realization that it isn't just the leaves of the trees which become more colorful in the fall. It is all of our vegetation, from the delicate bog plants to the frilly ferns to the bright little plants along the shoreline.

Singing "Down by the Boardwalk" is optional, but enjoyable. These walkways give us access without disturbing the delicate bog vegetation... or getting our feet wet.

The three-mile Heron Marsh Trail includes 900 feet of boardwalk that makes for wonderful vantage points to enjoy the colorful vistas. There's wetlands, hardwood forest, and mixed conifers. There's rushing water at the Shingle Mill Falls dam and the elevation of raised observation decks with benches and even an observation tower.

The north and south sides of the marsh feature a resident beaver dam. Otters are active in the early morning or late afternoon.

Heron Marsh Trail has pond, bog, and mountain views, with viewing platforms at the most scenic points.

Reach the Heron Marsh Trail from the VIC building deck. It's easy to loop back to the building, or choose another trail at an intersection to expand our hike. Pick up a trail map at the reception desk.

mount pisgah

The classic choice — view the leaves from a high vantage point. If we don't feel up to climbing a tall mountain, we can still enjoy a breaktaking view by climbing a small one: Mount Pisgah.

It's easy to get to the top of Mount Pisgah, and the vista is most unexpected.

In the winter, this is our town ski hill. In the fall, this is an easy mountain to climb simply by following the outlines of the rope tow to the top. Bring the mountain bike and enjoy the amazing bike trails, too.

Plenty of mountains, and every shade of autumn there is.

While Pisgah is an easy climb, the view is really something. There is Brewster Mountain straight ahead, and the long ribbon of the Saranac River to the right. There's lots of mountains to climb in our area, but it's possible that Pisgah is the simplest. It's also right in town with easy parking.

Take a short walk, go for a paddle on a small pond, climb a little mountain. We don't have to make a big deal about getting out. We only need to get out.

Choose from waterfront lodging for twice the color. Wander in our parks for an easy outing. Discover all of our extraordinary outdoor recreation.


In related ADK autumn outlook news:

Autumn on the Coast

Sunsets for miles

Lazy day drive

Foliage fore days

Single track and twilight

Scents of the season

Burn, baby, burn

 

 

Author:Pamela Merritt
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