One of the premiere pleasures of our Adirondack fall foliage season is taking to our roads for maximum viewing angles. The varied geography here changes from lush forest to scenic meadows, with mountain ranges forming a colorful backdrop to the intensity of the leaves seen up close.
Below are some loops that are great for biking, motorcycling, and of course, scenic drives.
Funny name, fine trek
Our two fish hatchery routes, short (22 miles) and long (36 miles) do go by the DEC's fish hatchery. This facility is in the beautiful Lake Clear area and its lovely lake views. The long version takes you around the Saranac chain of lakes, with Lower, Middle, and Upper Saranac lakes visible from the road.
Another great thing about this route is how it is centered in a scenic area. Take a side road (make sure they are not marked as a private road) and explore a different mix of trees, or a lovely water view, by the end.
At the intersection of Routes 30 and 86 you are only 2 miles south of the Paul Smith's College VIC. This Visitor Interpretive Center is a hiking complex, a natural history museum, and a gift shop all in one. It has 25 miles of groomed hiking trails through every variety of Adirondack environment, except high alpine. It's a great spot for a variety of photo opportunities, with the different mixes of trees and terrain.
Even without a boat, the boat launches are great places for you to stop at, since the launch platform and piers are wonderful vantage points for twice the color; one on the trees, and one in the reflections.
Be on the lookout for scenic pull-offs to enjoy the foliage show without worrying about traffic.
Take it to the river
Another fine route with a lot of water views is the Franklin Falls Loop. It starts on Route 3 (Bloomingdale Road) along the Saranac River, leaving Saranac Lake to the northeast.
The first 6 miles, all the way to Bloomingdale, has many river views with the mountains of the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness in the background.
Bloomingdale is the home of The Bloomin' Market, just a minute down Route 3 from the four-way stop. Coffee, beverages, deli sandwiches, snacks, and gasoline are all available here, but be sure to bring cash.
Continue with Route 18 along the river, and do take the little road to the Moose Pond boat launch.
The section of Route 18 along Franklin Falls lake is one of the prettiest drives in the area. Look for pull-offs, which often lead to short hiking trails to the shoreline. Stopping is great for safety, great for unhurried enjoyment, and it offers the best picture taking opportunities until you get to the dam spillway itself.
The dam area has a parking spot and access along different vantage points.
This route is a great combination of tall mountains and broad lakes. Add in an easy hike to a scenic overlook with Cobble Lookout.
Bring the kids
This year, 2017, Fish Creek Pond Campground will be open until October 22. This covers the peak season of our glorious fall color. Get a day pass for the family and spend the day exploring the many roads, hiking paths, and water views.
Choose a beautiful spot with a picnic table, water view, and grill, and have a delightful fall cookout.
Ride without worrying about traffic. There's a 5 mile per hour speed limit throughout the campground, and also very little traffic. The many miles of roads in the campground offer wonderful access to all kinds of nature.
There are lots of water views with Fish Creek Pond, Square Pond, hiking trails to Floodwood Pond, and access to Rollins Pond.
There is also a playground and bathrooms that can be used on the day pass. It's a structured environment that kids will love, and parents can relax about.
These are only three of the many different ways you can take to the road and see as much scenery as possible, all while having fun. Each of the routes have different places and activities to stretch your legs or take a break.
Take the day. This is our shortest, and most intense, season. The way to enjoy it is to slow it down.
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