It's nearly impossible to miss: A few miles north of Speculator, right next to Route 30, there's a boulder painted to look like a pig's head.
Affectionally known as "Pig Rock," the man-made landmark is a welcome site for locals and travelers alike. It means you've arrived here, in the Adirondacks.
"People who travel back and forth between Speculator and Indian Lake, they always love to see the rock," said Lake Pleasant town historian Anne Weaver. "And when summer people come through, when they hit the rock they know they're here. It's a novelty, and people love it."
The rock itself is natural, but its placement is anything but. The boulder was unearthed in 1955 when state Department of Transportation workers were building Route 30. About 10 years later, the daughters of a Whitaker Lake resident decided it looked like a pig, so they painted a snout on it. Rumor has it the other details — things like eyes, ears, and skin tone — came later. At one point the pig was pink, but these days it's gray, which might be a better fit with the rocky landscape.
"There's a boys Christian Camp called Deerfoot Lodge that's just past the pig going north, and they took up the job of painting it," Weaver said.
The Battle of Pig Rock
A seemingly peaceful roadside attraction, Pig Rock became the object of controversy in 1991, when the state DOT decided to widen the road — and thus remove the pig. Residents weren't having it, though.
"In the 1990s when the DOT came through, they were going to blast it out to widen the shoulder and people came and protested over it," Weaver said. "It was not an organized protest; people just showed up and started protesting against the removal of the rock. They were writing to their Congressman and all of that stuff."
Life before Pig Rock
Back in the day — we're talking 1800s here — most routes in the Adirondacks were well traveled but not well maintained. Settlers dotted the region, and trails like the one that became Route 30 looked more like footpaths than roads.
During the War of 1812, the state decided to build a military road from Fish House, which is located on Great Sacandaga Lake, to an armory near Russell, a small town far to the northeast.
"This road was partly built to go through what we call Perkins Clearing, and it goes past Pillsbury Mountain, and that's the old military road," Weaver said. "Eventually, to get to Indian Lake, they built the road better so it could go from Speculator to Indian Lake."
More than just a pretty face
Pig Rock isn't the only great roadside attraction in the Adirondacks. Take the 25-mile drive from Speculator to Indian Lake on Route 30 and you'll be on a wild stretch of road that affords glimpses of the Pillsbury Mountain and Snowy Mountain fire towers.
If that's not wild enough for you, head toward Inlet from Indian Lake along the 24-mile long Moose River Plains Road. This dirt road should not be attempted in winter, but summer visitors will enjoy getting up close to some of the most pristine woodlands in the Adirondacks. If you're planning a remote trip to the Adirondacks, take note that the Moose River Plains Wild Forest is part of the 79,487-acre Moose River Plains Complex, which contains more than 100 primitive campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Looking for water but want to stay on pavement? Take Route 28 from Indian Lake toward North Creek and you'll lose elevation as you pass through deep forests. Just before North River the road starts to follow the Hudson River, which is wild, turbulent, and perfect for whitewater rafting as it courses through the mountains. Continue on to North Creek for more views of the Hudson.
Our scenic roads weren't just made for driving! As spring nears, it's time to start thinking about all of the bicycling opportunities available in the region. Check out this blog for suggestions on how to get started mountain biking.
This week in ADK news: Bacon!