Submitted by guest blogger Eileen Mowrey
Fall in Saranac Lake is simply unmatched. The scenery? Spectacular. The atmosphere? Warm and welcoming. Surrounded by mountains aflame with red, orange, and yellow leaves, downtown feels like a movie set — nearly too perfect to be true. But it is real, and it’s yours to explore! See for yourself why this small Adirondack town prides itself on being decidedly different and spend a perfect fall day in Saranac Lake. Explore where to go, what to do, and especially where to eat!
Wake up early and start your day right with a hot and hearty Adirondack breakfast. While you have lots of options, Blue Moon Café is a local favorite. Whether you order a loaded omelet, a scramble served with homemade toast, a creative breakfast sandwich, or a towering stack of pancakes, you can’t go wrong. Grab yourself a cup of self-serve coffee and settle in for a lumberjack-worthy meal.
With your appetite sated, it’s time to hit the trail. Head to the trailhead for Baker Mountain, tucked behind Moody Pond on the edge of the village. One of the mountains featured in the Saranac Lake 6er challenge, Baker is a family-friendly hike that offers a sweeping view of town and the foliage-filled mountains that lie beyond. While Baker’s actual summit is surrounded by trees, outcroppings on almost every side provide stunning vistas. The 0.9-mile trail is easy to follow, but you should still wear proper footwear (no flip-flops or sandals) as the terrain is rocky and steep at times.
Once you’ve finished your scenic fall hike, refuel with a tasty treat at Nori’s. Grab a delicious baked good and a latte and get ready to get lost in the Great Adirondack Corn Maze, an 8-acre brain-teaser in Gabriels. To get there, head west on Route 86, where shortly after leaving Saranac Lake you’ll crest Harrietstown Hill. Look to your right to see one of the best roadside views in all the Adirondacks: Whiteface Mountain looms in the distance, along with the McKenzie Range. Shortly after, you’ll see signs for Tucker Farms. Turn left on Hobart Road and the maze will be on the right. The admission fee is cash or check only.
Get lost in the fun
The Great Adirondack Corn Maze features a new theme and design each year, so the path is never the same twice. And if merely getting through this labyrinth isn’t enough of a challenge, you can increase the degree of difficulty by hunting for eight mailboxes hidden in the corn. Each mailbox contains a portion of a map of the maze; assemble all the pieces to make a complete map. (Or you can just bail out on one of the escape paths if you find yourself hopelessly lost.)
On golden pond - or river
With this fall classic checked off the list, you can tackle another Adirondack favorite: paddling. Canoeing and kayaking may seem like warm-weather sports, but they are just as much fun in the fall. Swing by St. Regis Canoe Outfitters’ downtown location to rent a boat, paddles, life vests, and everything else you need for a trip down the Saranac River. You can even have somebody from the outfitters’ experienced staff meet you at a take-out point, so you never have to paddle upstream or load a boat onto your car.
Put in at the boat launch directly across the street and enjoy floating through town under bridges and past local businesses. As the Saranac River winds away from civilization you will enter more remote territory. Watch the water’s edge closely to catch glimpses of small mammals or, if you’re lucky, a moose. At times, flaming leaves from canopy trees will dance above your head casting a warm, golden light on the water below. Close your eyes for a moment and focus on the smells of fall—crunchy leaves, ripe crab apples, and cool breezes floating down from the mountains. Let the sounds of your paddle lull you. Fall canoeing is one of the most peaceful experiences the Adirondacks has to offer.
Once you emerge from your paddling trance and the friendly folks at St. Regis Canoe Outfitters bring you back to town, dinner is all that remains of your perfect day. Considering all the hiking, maze walking, and paddling you’ve done, treat yourself to a first-class meal at Left Bank Café. Its French-inspired menu changes with the season, bringing you fresh ingredients and soul-pleasing flavors. If the weather allows, sit on the porch overlooking the very river you just paddled down. Pair your dish with a full-bodied wine and cap off the night with a velvety chocolate mousse or creamy crème brulee.
Any fall day spent in the Adirondacks promises to be great, but perfect fall days are found in Saranac Lake. With great food, fun activities, and mountain town charm, fall’s magic is ever-present in the air. Be sure to make it before the last leaf falls!