Top Three Loops for Foliage

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.

Our secondary roads have lots of pleasure to offer. Bring your wheels!
Our secondary roads have lots of pleasure to offer. Bring your wheels!

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.

Side roads are worth exploring, such as this view of St Regis Road.
Side roads, such as St. Regis Road, are worth exploring.

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.

Change it up with a nice hike at the Visitor Interpretive Center.
Change it up with a nice hike at the VIC.

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.

The Second Pond boat lauch on Route 30 offers close views of the water along with the leaves.
The Second Pond boat launch on Route 30 offers close views of water and leaves.

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.

The tranquil parts of the Saranac River are visible from pulloffs along Route 3.
The tranquil parts of the Saranac River are visible from pulloffs along Route 3.

Continue with Route 18 along the river, and do take the little road to the Moose Pond boat launch.

Take the side road to Moose Pond to enjoy its lovely shoreline.
Moose Pond is known for its lovely shoreline.

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.

The shoreline of Franklin Falls lake  shows off Whiteface Mountain. (photo courtesy Andy Arthur)
The shoreline of Franklin Falls lake shows off distant mountain ranges.

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.

You don't have to camp to enjoy nature at our NYS campgrounds.
You don't have to camp to enjoy nature at our New York state campgrounds.

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.

Late fall is the golden time when everything turns shades of sunshine.
Late fall is the golden time, when everything turns to shades of sunshine.

There are lots of water views with Fish Creek Pond, Square Pond, hiking trails to Floodwood Pond, and access to Rollins Pond.

The shores of Fish Creek in fall. (photo courtesy
The shores of Fish Creek in fall. Photo courtesy of

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.

Now you are ready for a great night's sleep in one of our unique lodging places. Explore our dining. There are lots of scenic biking routes.

This week in related ADK news:

Dog days

An apple a day

A putt and a pint

Safety first

Mountain makeover

North Hudson's no joke

Best bog ever

Categories:Cycling, Fall, Foliage
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About The Author

Pamela Merritt's picture
Pamela Merritt finds a library's reading room as exciting as a hike through the forest. She met the Adirondacks in 1999 and declared it "home." She's been collecting stories ever since. She declares summer's hiking and kayaking blends beautifully into winter's snowshoeing and reading to create four great seasons of enjoyment. Her published works display her eclectic range, from How-To cat care manuals to literary short fiction.

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