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"From the early 19th century, the deep lakes and woods of the Adirondack Mountains    
have beguiled empresses, inspired railroad tycoons, and offered solace to poets,
painters, and authors. Spanning an astounding six million acres, the Adirondacks
beckon each new generation to discover what it means to become part of
an adventure story centuries in the making."
~ Visit the Adirondacks website
We've explored only a little bit of massive Adirondack Park around the Whiteface Mountain and Lake Placid area and we're impressed with its beauty and the range of possible activities throughout the year.

We're glad our first visit to this area was during peak autumn leaf season. I can't imagine the place could be any prettier in any other season.

Colorful scene from Forest Rd. 72 near Whiteface Mountain

This entry focuses on photos I've taken while driving around on several different days to several different locations. I'll do my best to describe their locations. I don't think there are any bad views around here, so if you're ever in this area in the fall, just get out and drive. You'll see plenty of fall color everywhere.


Two days ago I hiked up the north side of Whiteface Mountain on a gnarly trail and had the place practically to myself, including 20+ minutes alone on the summit. The toll road was closed for repairs that day and the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center's observatory on the summit was also closed.

The scenery was so spectacular that I wanted to share it with Jim. I knew he'd enjoy the views, as well as the exhibits and equipment in the observatory. Since the toll road and observatory were open this weekend, and it was another beautiful sunny day today, we decided to drive to the summit.

Here's a map of the area again. The road to the summit is part of NY 431:


Hwy. 431 before the turn to Whiteface Mtn.

We had been advised by the campground owners that we'd have plenty of company on the mountain today so we got to the toll booth as soon as it opened at 9 AM.

That advice was spot on. The person who took our fee said a record number of people drove up the mountain yesterday, and at least as many were expected today. When we came back down at 11:30 AM there was a very long line to get in. People had to wait until enough other visitors came back down before more were allowed up. Parking at the summit is rather limited. 

More haze in the valley today but the colors were still very pretty

The "Castle"

The road is about five miles long from the toll booth to the "Castle," the elaborate rock building 300 feet below the summit. It houses a cafe, gift shop, and restrooms.

About 200 feet below the castle is a long tunnel leading to an elevator that takes visitors up to the summit. There is a second option. We walked up the steep, rough rock "trail" (with some handrails) to the summit buildings and descended via the elevator so it was easier on our knees. The tunnel and elevator were bored through solid billion-year-old granite back in the 1920s.

Here are three views looking back down as we ascended the rock trail to the summit:




Today was more hazy in the valleys than it was when I was on the summit Friday. The red leaves below weren't as vibrant and it was more difficult to see the lakes but the haze made the surrounding mountains look interesting:  






After having the summit all to myself on Friday it was odd to see so many people up there today. Jim really enjoyed the views, the observatory, and the experience -- so did I -- making it well worth the $17 fee ($10 per vehicle and driver, $7 per each additional passenger).

Before driving back down we ate lunch in the cafe. Although it was rather pricey the food was  delicious. Jim had a turkey sandwich with apple slices, tomato, etc. and I had a vegetarian Mediterranean crepe with feta cheese. Both came with a much better salad than most restaurants serve.

This is the tunnel to the elevator we took to go back down to the parking lot near the Castle :

That was literally "cool."

We saw several cyclists riding their bikes up and down the toll road to Whiteface:

Jim talked to one of the riders when we first got up there. He probably would not have ridden that road even if he hadn't been resting up for, or recovering from, his bike race in Vermont because there isn't much if any shoulder. 

After passing through the toll booth at the end of the Whiteface Road Jim pulled over so I could take pictures of scenic but small Lake Stephens :



After we came down Whiteface Mountain we turned left on FR 72 and drove about five miles west through beautiful autumn colors to Franklin Falls.

We didn't drive far enough to see any falls but enjoyed picturesque Union Falls Pond and another pretty blue lake:





One day we drove a little loop from Wilmington to Jay and Upper Jay and back through the scenic Au Sable River Valley. The little towns of Jay and Upper Jay were founded in the late 1790s. Early settlers were attracted to the fertile river valley, vast forests, abundant water power, and iron ore deposits in the area.

The original Jay covered bridge was destroyed by severe flooding of the Au Sable River in 1856. It was rebuilt the next year and is the only remaining Howe Truss Bridge in Adirondack Park:


View from bridge

Today the bridge is open only to pedestrian traffic.


This scenic highway runs south from Wilmington to Lake Placid and west to the towns of Lake Saranac and Paul Smiths. I took photos in the section between Wilmington and Lake Placid on several occasions when accessing trail heads and driving to Jim's bike race in Vermont.

On clear days there are great views from the road and pull-offs of Whiteface Mountain, the ski area, and streams:







Pretty, huh?

In the next entry I'll show photos from three hikes I did in this area.

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil