For me, the Saranac Lake Region is one of the coolest places to ride in the Adirondacks. There are opportunities here to hit up some one-of-a-kind mountain scenery, twisty roads, and a few truly original Adirondack communities. If you're coming from Lake Placid on Route 86, as soon as you get into town you're treated to nearly a mile of lakeside views along Lake Flower. Not to mention a smorgasbord of dining and lodging options on or near the lake.
If I'm leaving Saranac Lake I'll likley head out on route 86 on the opposite side of town towards...wait for it...DONNELLY'S!!!! If the word doesn't strike joy in your heart, it's because you've never been, and that needs to change. The roadside ice cream stand has been cranking out a single flavor of ice cream twisted with vanilla each day since the dawn of time (more or less) and in the summer you'll need to carefully navigate, even on a bike, through the masses to find a parking spot. Second only to the ice cream is the view of Whiteface and the surrounding mountains you get on your right as you pull out of Donnelly's and continue down the road.
From here you'll sink into a beautiful Adirondack valley, half occupied by Christmas trees and the other half occupied by potatoes — they're 'Tucker Taters' by the way and you can find them in most local stores and some local restaurants. The road is wide and straight through here and I always find myself opening up the throttle and reveling in the cool ADK summer as I cruise through this valley.
Here's where you have a decision, you can ride right on through the little hamlet of Gabriels and head straight to Paul Smiths for the next leg of your adventure, or, you can make the better choice and take a 25-mile looping detour through Rainbow Lake and Onchiota.
You'll take a right off of 86 in Gabriels onto County Route 60. Heading north, this slightly twisty two-lane road will take you through the famously local communities of Rainbow Lake and Onchiota. You'll find houses, cabins, and homesteads between the trees lining the road. If you want to mail your friends a post card from what must be one of the countries smallest post offices (located inside a house), look for the Rainbow Lake Post Office — it's the one with a Post Office box out front...and a rainbow painted on the sign. Next you'll run through Onchiota and turn right at the adorable stone antiques store sitting on the corner. Out here you'll also find the Six Nations Indian Museum, a celebration of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) who were here long before us.
I'm generally cruising through when I head out this way, but if you're on a camping excursion you may want to plan your trip to stop at Buck Pond Campground. One of the New York State DEC's gems of a campground, 116 sites on or near the shores of Buck Pond, hot showers, and fresh water. What more could you ask for after a long days ride!?
Continuing on Route 60 you will eventually come out on State Route 3 where you can turn south and head back through the towns of Vermontville and Bloomingdale. If you need to fuel up, you'll find a gas station on your right as you enter Bloomingdale. Take a right at the four-corners in Bloomingdale on County Route 55, and you'll head back to Gabriels about a mile from where you left. Your last important stop before heading off on your next adventure should be The Shamrock. Tucked away in a house on the corner of Split Rock Road and Route 55, the Shamrock offers up some of the best homemade grub and cold beer you'll find ANYWHERE in the Adirondacks! Another cool ADK establishment you won't want to miss!
Fueled up and ready to go, it's time to take one last selfie and continue your journey back through the land of potatoes to Paul Smiths and then on to Malone!
In related ADK motorcycle news:
Riding the 'Dacks
This isn’t a secret to seasoned riders, but our resident experts will tell you that although the roads of the Adirondacks lend themselves nicely to touring by any mode of transport, exploring them by motorcycle provides the rider with an even deeper appreciation of, and connection to this pristine landscape.
Our motorbike-riding tourism marketers share some of their favorite rides (and highlight a few classic twisties) on the well-maintained roads that wind through the charming communities across the region. Follow along as they showcase one big loop in 8 segments - or choose your region du jour for a shorter spin.