Finding the best travel information
When I travel, I often find myself asking for advice from people that I meet along the way. It could be the night attendant at the lodging property, the local couple standing in line behind me at a coffee shop, or the waitress who is serving us lunch. As a result, I have discovered that the best advice doesn't necessarily always come from a printed travel guide. The locals themselves often hold the key to the best way to enjoy the area.
After a couple of years managing a local visitor information center, I have been amazed about how much I have learned about my own hometown simply from listing to the advice given by different representatives. I also realized that the recommendations the traveler receive varies based on the individual answering the inquiries. As a result, the traveler's vacation is shaped by who they meet along the way. That inspired me to hit the road and visit places that receive a lot of foot traffic throughout the summer season and ask them the same question I ask when I travel: "what should I do?"
So on a warm, sunny day in early July, I followed New York State Route 30 south from Long Lake to Blue Mountain Lake asking questions like "I'm looking to spend a day on the water, do you have any recommendations?" and "Do you have any recommendations for family hikes in the area?" From Blue Mountain Lake, my travels took me south via Route 28 to Raquette Lake and then Inlet. Along the way I stopped in the four Adirondack communities and met a variety of amazing people who offered up some great travel tips.
Insider Guide: On The Water
Charles: "If you are looking for a nice seclusive place to go visit, I would recommend Buttermilk Falls, which is the opening of Long Lake from the Raquette River and is just around the corner from here (Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake). It's a great little walk in, only a few hundred feet and you can sit at a picnic table and enjoy yourself."
Jules: "On the lake (Long Lake) it's awesome because it is so long there is different areas for everything. People go out boating, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, you know its good for everybody. You can go camping along it, we have lean-tos along our lake which is an overnight and they have campfires with them."
Donna: "We always tell people to go swim at Golden Beach. You can pay a day use fee, and it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Adirondacks. It is shallow, and sandy."
Adele: "I like to recommend Moss Lake as a quieter lake for a paddle, there's loons and an osprey nest out there in Moss Lake. We like to send people to Raquette Lake and put in at the inlet there in Raquette for a nice short paddle."
Paul: "We have multiple areas up here (Inlet, NY), we have 4th Lake as far as you can rent a boat or a kayak. Right here at 4th Lake you have Frisky Otter Tours, she will show you how to use one and you can rent one. They also have paddle boards...lot's of great things here."
Bob: "I recommend that you take a pontoon boat out and you go out to Osprey Island where there is a nice beach. You can picnic out there, kids can walk out into the water 20 feet from shore and it is only this deep (knee height). Nowhere else on this lake (Blue Mountain Lake) is it like that. Or you can go out to Rock Island, which is a big rock with a few trees on it and it is a 15 foot jump into the lake. And you can run and jump of Rock Island, swim around and have a good time doing that."
Charles: "You could go rafting on the Hudson, there a several companies in Indian Lake that provide white water rafting, and that can be a really fun thing too."
Insider Guide: Hiking
Ted: "Another thing would just be great hikes around here, we have a hike like Rocky Mountain which is 20 minutes up that. Another hike is Black Bear Mountain which is about a 45 minute hike up to that mountain. So easy hikes for families or just anybody."
Adele: "A triple crown I guess you would call it that I like to recommend. Rocky Mountain which is a quick hike up to the top with a gorgeous view. Ferd's Bog is a great place with a boardwalk that takes you out to the middle of a bog, so kids love the bugs and the spiders and the snakes and the turtles and some frogs. Then Cathedral Pines, where there's some old, long standing pines that are so wide that the kids have to take three or four of them to wrap around the trees."
Charles: "If you are with your family, I would say a good place to go is on a short hike. Just around the corner here from the museum is Castle Rock, which is about a mile to the top. It's on the northern side of Blue Mountain Lake and hike to the top and get a good view of the lake. It is quick and easy. Very appropriate for children. A good place to start I would say."
Donna: "It's fun to hike up Castle Rock in Blue Mountain Lake which is an easy climb. To climb Blue Mountain with children can be a challenge depending on the age of the child and fitness, but that (Castle Rock) is an easy one. Rocky Mountain between Inlet and Eagle Bay is an easy one, Bald Mountain, those are all nice climbs with a family."
Stacy: "We have so many good hikes! The one that everyone seems to want to do when they are here is Owl's Head. It's six miles round trip. Very, very mild trail, nice open, easy to navigate, but then its steep enough at the top to get your heart pounding. With a good fire tower! So that's a number 1 must do! And then for the short day hikes or if there are children involved, there is Coney Mountain. That's in-between here (lLong Lake) and Tuper Lake right at the county line. It's about a mile and a half round trip. It's still able somehow to get your heart pumping. Very great view for little time invested. You can be up and down in an hour to an hour and a half depending on your pace."
Insider Guide: Best of Summer
Charles: "I would probably have to say, getting on a boat and going to a secluded beach somewhere and just relaxing for the afternoon. Maybe bring some friends...that would make my summer complete."
Paul: "Sailing! I love to sail. I have a 16-foot Hobie Cat, you don't see too many around here, but it's a lot of fun."
Donna: "I always make it a point to visit the Adirondack Museum every year, even though I go every year, they have new exhibits and we partner with the Adirondack Museum and Great Camp Sagamore and offer the 'Adirondack Guilded Age Tour' so I like to see what new exhibits they have and just revisit the campus."
Ted: "Well, definitely biking because we are in a bike shop (Petals & Pedals). That is like our number one thing, we've got great trails! Anything from beginner trails, intermediate trails, expert trails, old railroad beds which we can ride on which is a great family ride for people."
Donna: "Another thing that we think is a great activity is to take a seaplane ride. There is a seaplane business in Long Lake and one in Inlet and it's very affordable...and that's a thrill! The seaplane can pick you up right here in Raquette Lake on this public dock and give you about a 20-minute ride. It's the best way to see the vastness of the wilderness."
Bob: "Jump off Rock Island! I did it 5 times on the 30th of June. I'm sixty, almost sixty-five and I have been doing it since I was 5 years old. I have never missed a year."
Quin: "There are certain rights of passage in Blue Mountain Lake and things that you have to do, and he (Bob) tapped on it, 'Rock Island.' Everybody has to do Rock Island, it's a generational thing and it completes your Blue Mountain stay. What do you do off the lake, you can hike, and that's really what you do! It's camaraderie, it's friends coming together, it's a family place. You see five - six generations of people that come up here. My friends and their children play with my children. We get together and we see this generational growth. And Blue Mountain Lake with the assets like the Adirondack Museum it gives a nice historical backing, but the lake is our focus here."
Meet the Insiders
I would like to thank all of my "Adirondack Insiders!" If you see these faces around, don't be afraid to ask them: "What do you recommend?"
- Charles Smith - Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake
- Donna Phol - Raquette Lake Navigation (W.W. Durant), Raquette Lake
- Adele Burnette - Inlet Tourism, Inlet
- Paul Chambers - French Louie ADK Sports, Inlet
- "Crabby Bob" - Blue Mountain Lake Boat Livery, Blue Mountain Lake
- Ted Christodaro - Pedals & Petals, Inlet
- Stacey Spagota - Raquette River Outfitters, Long Lake
- Jules Pierce - Hoss's County Corner, Long Lake
- Quinn Booth - Blue Mountain Lake Boat Livery, Blue Mountain Lake