September 05, 2017
Foliage fans love the Adirondacks. There's acres of nature with all the trees in blazing color. But if you, or someone in your group, are not up for climbing a mountain or paddling a river, don't worry. There are lots of easy ways to enjoy our dramatic fall scenery.
Actually, all of the roads are scenic drives. If you can get here, you can enjoy the lovely fall color.
If any members of your party have some mobility challenges, here's a few ideas that will let everyone get some stunning vistas.
Right in town
Saranac Lake is a mountain town, so there's hills covered with trees visible from many parts of downtown. The sidewalks extend to some scenic places.
The Riverwalk is a park which occupies the shoreline along the Saranac River, behind downtown. It is all access and can be reached from behind the town offices. A ramp descends to the river level, passing under the George LaPan Highway Bridge, with the mural of Saranac Lake life.
Paved paths follow the river to the center of downtown. Distant hills show more color, while bridges and docks give closer views of the water.
Set out on the other side of the dam for Riverside Park. There are curb cuts and more paved paths to the sidewalk that runs along the shores of Lake Flower. The boat dock offers views along the shoreline and the distant mountains. Use the opposite sidewalk to continue around the curve of Lake Flower Drive, where the lake narrows and the opposite shore is even closer.
There are scenic boathouses and wooded hills to show off the fall color.
A very scenic drive, and one of my favorites, is to take Route 3 out of town. At the intersection of Church Road and Bloomingdale Road, at the light, turn from Church Road to the right. This takes us northeast, towards Bloomingdale. This road runs alongside the Saranac River, which has many sections of meadows and boglands, with mountains in the background.
Look for pulloffs along the river that will let everyone enjoy the view, including the driver. (This curvy road has a 55 mile per hour section.)
This is the first leg of the Norman Ridge Route which continues on to lovely Franklin Falls and many mountain roads if you take a right on Route 3 at the four way stop in Bloomingdale. This lets you take Route 18 along more scenic water views.
Change it up by turning left on Route 55 (or if you miss it, further on is Bigelow Road which will join Route 55.) This will meet Route 86. Turn left (south) to return to Saranac Lake, or turn right (north) to explore the scenic Paul Smiths/Gabriels area. Route 31, Jones Pond Road, is a very scenic road with lovely Jones Pond visible at many points, and then take Route 60 northeast to Route 3, to go back the way you came.
Forest Home Road
Taking 186 when it joins Route 86 will give you access to lovely Lake Clear. Many points along the road show Lake Clear, the lake, and the plains along the road open up many vistas for lots of color.
This shot is at the intersection of I-86 and Route 86. Going south opens up several meadows and pulloffs to view from.
Continuing through Lake Clear brings us to a wonderful forest drive back to Saranac Lake; the perfectly named Forest Home Road.
The road alternates water and meadow views all along its length, with pastures for horses and roadside streams.
Easy drive, easy walk
At the intersection of Route 86 and Route 30, a short drive north brings you to the Adirondack Visitor Interpretive Center.
Here, the peak comes early. If exploring the Saranac Lake area makes you want more color, this is the place to seek it, early in the season.
To see more up close, and the group is up for some very easy walking, there's the Barnum Brook Trail at the VIC. This one mile loop is level and smooth, and some of it is boardwalk.
The main lodge at the VIC is all access, and has restrooms, a lovely great room with beautiful views, a deck for outside enjoyment, and views of many bird feeders to see our wildlife getting ready for winter. (Look for possibly the world's fattest squirrel scavenging from the ground.)
True to its name, there are many water sources, including a fish dam. The trees along the path include the bright reds of three kinds of maple, the gold of two kinds of birch, the bright yellow of aspen, and the sumptious backdrop of pines, firs, and hemlocks.
Bring everyone along to enjoy Adirondack fall foliage. It can be easy.