Brampton’s Guide to the Adirondacks
“The trouble with you Flatlanders is you don’t know shit about the Dacks”, says John Thomas stubbing out his 6th cigarette of the day before breakfast. Now let me tell you 2 things about John Thomas. 1. He’s about as fine a cabin builder as you’ll find in America and 2. He’s dead right.
The Dacks are of course the Adirondacks and Flatlanders are you folk reading this, the name given by locals to the residents of New York City and its suburbs. For decades New Yorkers have been heading Upstate but much past the Catskills and most are heading into unknown territory. In this world of information overload, isn’t it great that one of the best kept secrets on the East Coast of America is less than 4 hours drive from New York City? Welcome to the world of the Adirondack Mountains.
Many will complain of the journey time it takes to get to the Adirondack Park but those that get there will welcome such grievances as it keeps the well-heeled Manhattan masses down in the Catskills paying twice the price for half the mountain. At three times the size of Puerto Rico, the Adirondack Park spans a whopping 6.1 million acres (Yellowstone 2.2m, Yosemite 0.76m) and is the largest park found in the continental United States of America, and there are no cities inside it.
Suffice to say, there is much to explore and so much of it remains unexplored.
This clearly begs the question of where to start and the first thing to decide is what season suits you. To say that there’s great hiking in the Adirondacks is to say that Roger Federer has a decent backhand; it’s an understatement to the point of insult. In fact, so impressive are the hikes to choose from that the challenge of the 46 peaks is a well established one and draws some of the world’s best athletes to its trails each year to complete it. The Adirondack Forty-Sixers, as they are known, are the select group that have scaled each and every of the 46 peaks above 4000 feet. Right now in October is one of the best times of year to go hiking given the temperatures are moderate, the leaves are changing and, significantly, there are few black flies which are a prevalent nuisance around Spring time and can certainly turn a glorious walk into an undignified trudge.
Our favourite local hike is Crane Mountain which I would label as difficult but incredibly rewarding. At around 4 miles in length going up one side and down the other, it boasts stunning 360 degree views at the top and an almost animatedly gorgeous lake, Crater Lake, half way down the other side for you to swim and cool off in on your way back home.
Let’s be very clear straight off the bat that East Coast skiing is never going to compete with the resorts in Colorado or Utah, but for convenience and budget it’s surprising how good a weekend you can have while living in New York City if you know where to go. The competition is decent but not overly impressive with Whiteface and Killington being the most popular further north and Hunter further south for some day skiing from the city. Our favourite by an Adirondack mile though, is Gore Mountain. Gore is just 15 mins from us and is where we take all our skiers in Winter for several reasons. The main reason, and one that is not known to many, is that Gore is state owned and so does not advertise as much as the others that often have resorts right on the mountain. Gore does neither and as such has some of the shortest lift lines of any resort in the US, a happy side effect not lost on our guests who get more skiing in on Gore then they do on in most resorts.
With 107 trails and 15 lifts, Gore provides easily enough fun for a weekend of skiing at a reasonable price. The vertical drop is 2,537 feet over 446 accessible acres and it spans 4 mountains, Gore, Bear, Burnt Ridge and Little Gore. And for those keen to get a quick start to the day, we provide you with a lift ticket and drop you at the base of Little Gore so you are up and on the mountain within 20 mins of leaving our front door.
For apres ski, the Mountain does a decent job with a canteen and large outdoor patio serving drinks all day and a great country band from 4pm on weekends. For a more refined end to the day, the newest addition to Gore’s dining scene Beck’s Tavern does great comfort food and a great selection of beers. 2 local breweries we love are Paradox and Adirondack Brewery – don’t miss these if craft beers are your thing.
Up until now we directed most of our guests towards downhill skiing but some recent discoveries have meant that we like to offer more than just Gore. At Garnet Hill Lodge, the owners have decades of knowledge between them about backcountry and cross-country skiing and they provide all the equipment you need to go off exploring. Our recommendation is to pack a lunch with a hipflask of Hudson Whiskey and head out into the wild.
For more family fun, there’s snow-tubing, ice skating, tobogganing and ice fishing in and around Lake George. If tobogganing is your thing, we can arrange a day on your own private hill to fly down with a view to die for.
Funnily enough, although still not that funny, Summer has been the season that has surprised us in terms of interest, and that’s got everything to do with Lake George. Lake George is over 30 miles long and plays homes to more than 150 islands the majority of which you can camp on for about $20. During the Summer months we spend at least one of the weekend days taking guests on what we call an island safari. We pack the cool boxes with beer and wine and head of to the Narrows, our favourite part of the lake. There we set up camp and grill lobsters on the provided BBQ’s and then take turns waterskiing in the plethora of secret baps that the lake has hidden away.
If cliff jumping is your thing then we hustle the brave across from thr Sagamore Hotel to a secret alcove where only the locals are found queuing up to jump the 40 feet from cliff edge to lake.
After a day on the lake, we drive our speedboat Theora and park it at Blue Water Tavern where we hit the bar overlooking the bay for a cold margarita prepared by the barmen there we’ve come to know and love.
GETTING THERE AND BACK
Admittedly this is a concern for those of you in NYC as the train line goes as far as Albany and the bus service is slow and a touch irregular. For this reason, we, at the Brampton, provide transport to and from Manhattan with the advisable option to stop at one of our sponsors, Hudson Whiskey, to taste some of their award winning tipples about 1.5 hours into the journey up I-87.