It’s that time of year for the fiery hues of changing leaves as the seasons transition and the crisp air of autumn descends upon us. The Adirondacks may be one of the most spectacular places on earth to view this explosion of color and engage in the many autumn activities the region has to offer.
Besides leaf peeping, take a trip on the Adirondack Mountaineer railroad, pick apples from a family farm, and follow cuisine trails to taste local wines and ciders. The breathtaking Adirondacks is waiting to reveal its many surprises.
Here’s an outdoor guide to help you experience the best of it.
For a fantastic overview of ambers, burnt oranges, and crimsons, take a ride on the Whiteface Mountain Gondola at the White Mountain Ski Resort. The Cloudsplitter soars to an elevation of 4610 feet with stunning views of Lake Placid, Lake Champlain, the Ausable River, and blankets of color. An observation deck at the top provides a platform for photos while you dine at the 4610’ Grill, which bills itself as the highest food truck in New York.
Take a break from the car and hop on the Adirondack Mountaineer, a relaxing train ride that will take you through forests and over rivers for colorful fall vistas. This day-long round-trip adventure begins in Thendara with a 4.5-hour stop in charming Tupper Lake for local shopping and quaint cafes.
Drive through canopies of trees with mile-long views to experience fall up close. Billed as one of the most spectacular drives in the fall, take the 24-mile cruise from Indian Lake to Speculator.
Start in the village of Indian Lake and go south on Route 30, traveling along the shores of Indian Lake to experience some of the most gorgeous views of fall foliage. Be sure to look for the boulder painted to resemble a pig’s head, “Pig Rock,” as you near Speculator.
For a shorter 12-mile drive, take another scenic road from Long Lake, beginning in Long Lake Town Beach, to Blue Mountain Lake, called by some “the crown jewel of the Adirondacks.” Start on Route 30, then merge onto Route 285 for color galore, easy-access hiking, paddling, and fishing. Make a day of it, and if you’re interested in learning more about the area, visit the Adirondack Experience at the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake along the way.
Autumn Colors Plus Food and Drink
No trip is complete without diving into the local cuisine to explore the Adirondack’s rich agricultural heritage and welcoming communities. A series of Adirondack Cuisine Trails will give you a taste of the Adirondack spirit, from dairy farms and cheese mongers to up-and-coming wineries.
The Boquet Valley Cuisine Trail is dotted with new farmers eager to share their specialties with you. Head to Dogwood Bread Company for an espresso and fresh, warm bread, then sample the cold-hardy wines the region is known for at Highland’s Vineyard.
Grab a bottle of their wood-fired maple syrup while you’re there. Adirondack View Vineyard in Keeseville grows organic grapes, over 800 lavender plants, pumpkins, and berries. Ausable Brewing will curb your hunger and keep you entertained with food trucks and live music every Friday and Saturday night.
Since 1808, the Deer’s Head Inn in Elizabethtown has hosted travelers and claims to be the oldest tavern in the Adirondacks. Book a cozy room and dine from a made-from-scratch menu of regional specialties prepared with ingredients from local farmers. Think Autumn Squash Souffle, PEI Mussels, Eggplant Catanzaro, cheese and meat boards, and a selection of hand-crafted cocktails using local spirits.
Another engaging cuisine trail recommended as part of this outdoor guide is the Ausable Valley Trail. Visit Asgaard Farm and Dairy for French-style cheese, grass-fed beef, and whey-fed pork. Big Slide Brewery and Public House brag ten house beers on tap with a menu of locally sourced ingredients for their salads, pizzas, and dinner entrees.
For a glimpse into the past, head to Lake Clear Lodge and Retreat on the Adirondack Lakes Cuisine Trail. The historic Adirondack Great Camp has a 1920s Speakeasy with farm-to-fork Adirondack fusion cuisine, sunset stagecoach rides, and winter sleigh rides.
Family Fun Activities
Who doesn’t love to roam a pumpkin patch to select just the right shape and size for carving? Country Dreams Farm has pumpkins aplenty, and you can also pick fresh flowers, buy farm-fresh eggs, take a wagon ride, visit the petting zoo, and see Belgian Draft horses at work.
There is nothing like a freshly picked apple, and with 60-plus varieties at the family-owned Bowman Orchards, you can discover apples you might not have tried before. The kid entertainment factor is high with pony rides, apple cannons, a playground, and hayrides.
Hick’s Orchard is New York state’s oldest apple orchard and, besides U-pick apples, has a tasting room for Slyboro Hard Cider, cider donuts, and on weekends, wood-fired pizza.
Get lost in the Heroic Corn Maze at Fort Ticonderoga. This life-size puzzle encourages you to search the stalks for clues to navigate your way out. Truly an adventure!
A must-see family favorite in this outdoor guide is The Wild Center, whose goal is to make us all more aware of the natural world. Woodland trails, nature walks, and a four-story treehouse are merely a portion of the 115 acres this center has to offer.
The Pines Wild Play Area is a hands-on place for kids to use natural materials like large sticks and fallen trees to design and build their own inventions. Along the hiking trails, twenty-four speakers hide in the trees and project a symphony that blends music with the sounds of the forest like singing birds, rustling tree leaves, and gentle winds.
Inside, discover exhibits like Climate Solutions and Planet Adirondack, as well as a theater and live animals like rescued porcupines, otters, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. The Wild Center is your introduction to the surrounding environment that showcases the Adirondack’s many wonders and teaches us to appreciate and care for Mother Nature.
Where To Find More Outdoor Guides
Autumn in the Adirondacks is more than a season: it’s an enduring work of art, displaying the ever-changing beauty of nature. It’s a must-see! To learn more about the Adirondacks, its history, and places to hike, camp, and explore, visit Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, the authority on all things Adirondack.