Sunday, June 30, 2024

Leaving the Adirondacks

If you have followed this website long enough, you may have noticed I have lived in several states since the website’s inception more than ten years ago. When I started the website in 2013, I was living in Maine. I lived in Maine for eight years from 2006-2014. In June of 2014, I headed to Colorado for five years. Then in May of 2019, I headed to the Adirondacks. Five years have passed, and guess what, another move to a new state.
Above the clouds on Algonquin
This time I headed to the Mountain State of West Virginia. Hopefully I’ll be posting new adventures soon. In the mean time I’ll reflect on my time in the Adirondacks. Despite visiting most major mountainous regions in the East, apart from a day of Skiing at Gore Mountain, I never really experienced the Adirondacks before living there. 

Marcy Dam 

While in the Adirondacks, I called Tupper Lake my home. Tupper Lake sits near the middle of the Adirondacks with easy access to a lot of recreational opportunities. The High Peaks Wilderness, with the highest mountains in New York, is just a few miles to the east. Countless bodies of water surround Tupper Lake with good paddling and fishing. Much of the Adirondacks are less than a two hour drive if you want to avoid the bustle of the High Peaks. 

Haystack and Marcy


Jay Mountain

While I enjoy several outdoor activities, hiking is probably my favorite way to spend time outside. During my five years in the Adirondacks, I hiked throughout the region. I visited the summit of more than 100 Adirondack mountains including the Adirondack 46. I also visited plenty of smaller mountains including all the mountains on the Tupper Lake Triad, Saranac Lake 6, Lake Placid 9, and Lake George 12. I visited numerous other lower mountains, countless backcountry ponds, and fire towers. 

Waterfall on the descent to
Avalanche Lake

While there are plenty of beautiful locations in the Adirondacks, good conditions were often hard to come by. The Adirondacks are a rather wet mountain range. Most of the more traveled trails are terribly eroded. Mud settles in many areas and was very slow to dry, if ever. I’m no stranger to mud having lived in Maine, but I joked the Adirondacks is where New England’s mud went to summer. Not unlike Maine, bugs made unpleasant hiking not long after the snow melted. Lots of bogs and lakes in the lower elevations were buggy through the entire summer. These conditions are not unusual in the Northeast. It was just difficult to readjust after being spoiled by the in dry, sunny Colorado weather.

View from Marcy

Despite the mud, dreary days, and bugs; I am glad I got to hike extensively throughout the region. There are no shortage of beautiful places in the Adirondacks. Just don't wait for a perfect day because they don't happen that often in the Adirondacks.


Cedar River Flow on the
Northville Placid Trail

The Adirondacks vast trail system provided plenty of opportunities for multiday trips in the backcountry. During my time in the Adirondacks I backpacked a handful of times on trips ranging from a 32 mile overnight trip to a week long 140 mile outing. Unlike many of my day hikes, I generally had good luck with the weather on my Adirondack backpacking trips. Living locally allowed me to cherry pick good stretches of weather. Among my backpacking trips in the Adirondacks, I hiked the Cranberry Lake 50, Northville Placid Trail, Lake George Wild Forest, Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, and around the Seward Range. 

Before sunrise on Glasby Pond on the
Cranberry Lake 50

Many of my more ambitious day hikes could also be done as multiday trips. Many of my trips in the High Peaks Wilderness have the option for overnight trips such as the Great Range Traverse. The Tongue Range by Lake George is another trip I did as a day hike that can be done as a backpacking trip. 

Lantham Pond


Upper Saranac Lake from road ride along NY 3

I enjoy cycling whether on a road or mountain bike. The Adirondacks didn't really shine when it came to mountain biking. The regulations of the Adirondacks are dated and were written long before mountain biking was a mainstream activity. Not many trails on public land allowed mountain bikes in the Adirondacks. While in recent years a few areas started to develop trails that allowed mountain biking, the trail systems are relatively small. I tend to like longer rides. While I have ridden some of the trail systems near Lake Placid, it took creativity to link together long enough trails to keep me entertained. The trails were crammed into tight spaces and lacking great flow for the most part.

Lussi and Loggers Trails near Lake Placid

My favorite ride was mostly a gravel ride on dirt roads in the area west of Tupper Lake in the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest and Massawepie area. I rode there a handful of times and cobbled together a few route of my own ranging from 20-30 miles depending where I started. The scenery was fairly nice with fun riding and few people.

Riding an unnamed logging road near Massawepi

The majority of my cycling was rode riding. While I don't write about rode riding on my blog, I occasionally posted photos on the Tomcat's Outdoor Adventures Facebook page. From my front door, I had a handful of go-to rides in the 40-50 mile range. All the rides had great scenery of the mountains and passed by multiple lakes. Most of the main roads in the Adirondacks offer extremely generous shoulders and are in great condition. In late September and early October, the rides were even more spectacular with the foliage in bloom. 

Fall foliage while riding just south of Tupper Lake


Moose while kayaking Hitchens Pond

The Adirondacks are full of lakes, ponds, creeks, and rivers. There is a lifetime of paddling opportunities just about everywhere in the area. Living in Tupper Lake, I had easy access to the Tupper Lake bodies of water- Tupper  Lake, Raquette Pond, Simon Pond, Bog River, Raquette River, Stony Creek Ponds, and Piercefield Flow. All these waters are interconnected. They all offer great scenery of the surrounding mountains. Although the bigger bodies of water are prone to winds, you could always find a quieter day on smaller ponds.

Mount Morris above Tupper Lake

I paddled parts of all above mentioned bodies of water. I often saw more wildlife on the water than I did hiking. The only Adirondack moose sighting in the above photo occurred on a section of the Bog River called Hitchens Pond. Loon sightings  were common along with many other waterfowl. I can't count how many beaver I have seen while paddling as well. Eagle sightings were also a fairly common occurrence. 

Raquette Pond near sunset

Seward Range from Simon Pond

Winter Sports

Boreas Ponds view

The Adirondacks are no stranger to winter. The winters tend to be cold and snowy. Winters would be tough if I stuck to summer activities. In addition to hiking, which I do year round, I also cross country ski and downhill ski. When the snow allows, my preferred winter sport is cross country skiing.

Skiing Avalanche Pass

Although the snow conditions can be hit or miss, the Adirondacks have plenty of places to explore with skis. I preferred backcountry nordic skiing- skiing without groomed track in the wilderness. While I had a few places close to Tupper Lake that I skied regularly, every season I like to explore new areas.

MacIntyre Range while skiing on Lake Colden

I enjoyed the skiing in the Adirondacks. Places like Avalanche Pass, Boreas Ponds, and Tirrell Pond have views that are hard to beat in the East in winter. For variety, I think the Adirondacks even beat out Maine's nordic choices, and I really enjoyed the skiing in Maine. The high elevations of West Virginia, my new home, historically receive as much snow as the Adirondacks and there are some cross country skiing options, but it's hard to imagine it will compete with the skiing of the Adirondacks.

Skiing on the Northville Placid Trail

Over the years I have occasionally written about downhill skiing on this website, but I don't do it that often. The prices have gotten out of control and the cost started to outweigh the fun. I will still hit the slopes occasionally. The Adirondacks have two big ski areas, Whiteface and Gore. Whiteface features the biggest vertical in the East with a steep profile and plenty of tough terrain. I skied Whiteface twice and it ranks as one of my top 5 ski areas in the East that I have skied. It's a fun mountain when the snow is good. I only skied Gore once. It stands as the biggest ski area in terms of terrain. The mountain has a lot of variety and kept me entertained for a day without getting bored. While it wasn't as fun as Whiteface for challenging terrain, it made up for it with lots of terrain and trail options.

Skiing glades at Whiteface

Skiing Gore Mountain


While I don't talk about fishing on the website, I have fished on and off most of my life. It's also an activity that Puma and I can do together outdoors. We fished pretty heavily during our time in the Adirondacks in summer and on ice. We combined fishing with most of our kayak outings. By far, the Adirondacks was the best fishing I ever experienced. The fishing was productive and it wasn't unusual to catch huge fish.

A largemouth bass near the junction of Tupper Lake,
Lake Simon, and the Raquette River

Northern pike and largemouth bass were pretty common. If you've never caught a pike, they are an aggressive fish that fights ferociously. They were rarely smaller than 18". I actually caught one approaching 40" while ice fishing. The bass also give a mean fight. 20" bass weren't uncommon.

Northern Pike on Stony Creek Pond while ice fishing

Besides the pike and bass, we routinely caught sunfish, perch, rock bass, fallfish, and occasionally other species. On a good day it wasn't unusual to catch more than 30 perch while ice fishing in the spring.

While I'm glad I got to thoroughly explore the Adirondacks, I'm happy to move on. The buggy summers and winter nights in the -20s loses its appeal pretty quickly. I'm looking forward to exploring a new area that I haven't experienced much.

Sunset on Raquette Pond

I explored the Adirondacks on foot, ski, snowshoe, kayak and bike. There are certainly some pretty places. Unfortunately, there were a lot of dreary days, extremely cold nights, and warm days that you couldn't stop moving for any period of time before the bugs ate you alive. I will definitely miss some aspects of the Adirondacks. We routinely heard loons on Raquette Pond from our house. The summers rarely got too hot. And the nightly sunsets in summer over Raquette Pond are hard to beat. Either way, I made plenty of good outdoor memories and had lot of type 2 fun.

Feel free to browse the website to read about many of my adventures over the past five years living in the Adirondacks. 

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