The days have started to get longer and the warmth of the sun can be felt against your skin (even if there’s still snow on the ground, and you’re bundled up in layers of clothes). The sound of dripping can be heard as snow and icicles melt away. The breeze hits you with the warmth of spring instead of the sting of winter, and there is a very faint smell of earth starting to emerge. It’s spring! And after the long, long winter months there’s nothing that feels quite as exhilarating as this!
True, spring is known as “mud season” in the Adirondacks and doesn’t always depict the picturesque images you’re likely to see in TV commercials or more temperate regions. But with the long, cold winters in Saranac Lake, I think it’s safe to say that spring is welcomed here more than in other places. The feeling of town reawakening after laying dormant for that last stretch of winter, and the buzz of people getting outside in those first few “nice days” is enough to make you shake that cabin-fever-feeling and embrace the excitement of spring!
The loud sounds the quiet can make
What’s so special about spring in Saranac Lake? Well, for starters Saranac Lake is a lot less busy in spring than it is in the other seasons. So, if you’ve been thinking of planning a trip to Saranac Lake, this might just be the perfect time to make it happen. The hotels will have vacancies, the restaurants will have open tables, and there will be plenty of parking at your favorite trailhead. Not only that, but something amazing happens when the streets and trails are more quiet: you can really tune-in and hear the sounds of nature, and soak up all the beauty that is around you! Outside in spring is my favorite place to be, surrounded by nothing but nature. Every experience is beautiful in its own way, and spring is no exception.
As someone who has grown up in the Adirondacks, and hiked my whole life, I can still remember the profound effect this experience had on me: while taking an outdoor survival class in college, a small group of us was hiking a local mountain for a Leave No Trace overnight, when the instructor suggested we take off down the trail 2 minutes apart, and use that time alone to really soak up the sounds around us with no one else to interrupt the experience. Now, I’ve hiked solo countless times, but it wasn’t until this experience that I truly realized the beauty of a quiet hike. I had always taken it for granted. Maybe it was my mindset, or maybe there really was something special about the woods that day, but I’ll never forget how loud that silence was. I picked up on a bird's wings pushing through the air as it took off from a nearby tree, the crunch of the ice and last fall’s leaves as I walked quietly over them, and tons of small mammals starting to stir as they ran from tree to tree.
If this type of bond with your surroundings appeals to you, I recommend Adirondack Riverwalking & Forest Bathing to jumpstart your appreciation for this type of experience in nature. Forest bathing has absolutely nothing to do with an actual bath, and everything to do with the subtle signs from the world around you! Pick from a forest bathing experience, or river walking, both led by experienced guides. Available in all seasons, forest bathing is an exceptional way to explore the Adirondacks this spring!
The Paul Smith’s VIC is a great place to enjoy low-elevation excursions, with over 25 miles of trails, you can experience every habitat type found in the Adirondacks (with the exception of alpine vegetation). Explore the forest, or get out along the bog. The VIC is a great place to enjoy birding, or even spot a salamander or snake (if that’s your thing). I’m keen on the flora and fauna, and especially like searching for mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, and ghost pipe shoots in the spring.
Walk about town
Another great way to get outside this spring is to simply step outside your hotel and hit the streets of Saranac Lake! With a very accessible downtown, and several walking attractions right inside the village, you could easily fill your days with fun, and never have the need to get into a car!
- The Riverwalk is a 1-mile brick-paved walk along the river's edge through downtown, passing by coffee shops, retails stores, art galleries, and historic finds. There are several bridges, overlooks, and places to stop at a picnic table or bench. You’ll also have your pick of some of Saranac Lake’s many parks while walking the Riverwalk.
- If you are interested in history, or even pop-culture, the Walk of Fame might be your kind of stroll with the stars! Plaques throughout town celebrate Saranac Lake’s local stars and claims-to-fame. You can learn about local legends and famous football teams that have visited the area (to name a few).
- The Bug Crawl will appeal to families and art enthusiasts alike, with seven bug sculptures hidden throughout town. Make a fun scavenger hunt out of this walk and see who spots them all first!
And if it rains (which will bring May flowers), there’s no need to cancel your walk! Rainy day poems can be found on the sidewalks of downtown - but only on days when it rains. The Raining Poetry Project was created by the Adirondack Center for Writing, and it’s not your only chance to play with words while you enjoy downtown. They have also set up a poetry board outside of their location, where passersby can leave a poem or fleeting thought for the next person to revel in.
Food, drinks, music and spas
Now that you’ve done the leg work, it’s time to reawaken the senses in other ways! Enjoying the local cuisine, sipping on fresh cocktails or the newest brew on tap, or dancing to live music might be just what you need after a winter cooped up inside!
Many of the restaurants start to change things up this time of year, with the introduction of new ingredients, menu items, and seasonal drinks. Places like Fiddlehead Bistro are known for their farm-to-fork menus, so you can expect to see a lot of changes with the shifting of the seasons. Same goes for the Farmers Market or Park-It, and local farm store inside the Hex & Hop Taproom. Grizle T’s is known for their excellent beer selection, so they are sure to have something fresh on tap! And the Great Hall Bar at Hotel Saranac will be opening their terrace for seasonal spring cocktails with a view!
The Waterhole Music Lounge is the best place to go for live music, with shows most Saturday nights, and the return of Party on the Patio kicking off in May! A favorite with locals and visitors, Party on the Patio features bands from all around, free at the outside patio. What could be more revitalizing than a good night of dancing in the fresh, open air?
If pampering is more your style, Ampersand Spa offers indulgent services to help ease your muscles, and soothe your winter blues. Relax in their sanctuaries with a hot steam room and sauna. Or visit Just Nails or The Barbery for pedicures and men’s boutique grooming services.
Follow your relaxation up with some health and wellness! There are yoga and dance classes offered throughout the year at The Dance Sanctuary, and great local cafes to grab a fresh fruit smoothie, or sip on a latte while you watch the world go by.
If all of this doesn’t pique your interest in Saranac Lake, perhaps spring really isn’t the season for you. But if revitalizing your senses, enjoying low-elevation hikes, and capturing the wildflowers and birds in a relaxing, quiet setting has you wishing winter away, come join us this spring and discover the rejuvenating side of Saranac Lake before the hustle and bustle of summer!