5 Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting the Northern Region of the Adirondacks

Updated on December 2, 2019
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Claudia enjoys traveling and bringing her travel tips to readers.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting the Northern Region of the Adirondacks
5 Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting the Northern Region of the Adirondacks | Source

I recently took a trip with my mother to check out the fall foliage in the Adirondack Mountains. It was the first time either of us had ever been there, and it was a wonderful four days of getting away from it all.

I had no idea what an incredibly beautiful place this would be. The fall foliage was at its peak, and, while our days were marked by dark skies and some rain, the autumn colors popped against the grey sky. The weather did not take anything away from our experience. In fact, the damp atmosphere made it that much more enchanting.

Now that we have been home for a while, I have had time to reflect on our first-time visit, and I have come to realize that we did make a few mistakes. Luckily they did not spoil our trip. In fact, one of them inadvertently made it more special.

I'll be honest here—this trip was so wonderful that I had a hard time coming up with these five mistakes, but here they are anyway.

The village of Saranac Lake
The village of Saranac Lake | Source

Trip Specs

For reference, we stayed in the village of Saranac Lake. It is situated in the northern area of the Adirondacks and is a great central location to be able to see some popular areas. The village also has a unique and interesting history.

We are not hikers, but it is obvious that this area is an ideal place for hikers to stay. I cannot begin to count how many trailheads we came across while driving around.

We were there from Monday to Friday.

Brilliant leaves welcomed us around every corner.
Brilliant leaves welcomed us around every corner. | Source

Mistake 1: Relying Solely on GPS

We had no idea how remote certain areas of the Adirondacks were, so when trying to get to various tourist spots, we relied on our GPS. That is to say, we tried to rely on it.

Wanting to visit a wildlife center, we plugged in our destination and away we went. What should have taken about one hour took us about three.

That being said, we ended up driving in some remote areas that took us down dirt roads, all while not seeing another person or car. The scenery was glorious, and we would never have seen it if the GPS had been accurate.

I was glad that we had filled up the gas tank before we left, though. When we got back into town we bought an area road map just in case we had any problems again.

The view from atop Baker Mountain in the Adirondacks.
The view from atop Baker Mountain in the Adirondacks. | Source

Mistake 2: Thinking Restaurants Would Be Open Most of the Time

Because we were visiting during peak leaf-peeping time, and we were staying in a decent-sized town, we thought there would be an ample supply of restaurants for our meals.

We were wrong, and we were surprised to see that most of the restaurants were not open on Monday or Tuesday. Speaking to a local, we did find out that they were having problems finding employees, so that may have been part of the problem.

I am not sure if it was the time of year or the staff shortage, but it made it difficult to find meals on those two days. More places seemed to open up on Wednesday, so that helped.

The view from the top of Whiteface Mountain after driving up the Veteran's Memorial Highway. In the distance, the orange, yellow and red trees beamed.
The view from the top of Whiteface Mountain after driving up the Veteran's Memorial Highway. In the distance, the orange, yellow and red trees beamed. | Source

Mistake 3: Thinking It Would Not Take Long to Get to a Destination

We have all been there. We look at a map and the mileage and think that it won't take long to get somewhere.

That happened to us frequently on this visit. One thing I had not taken into account was that these mountain roads are winding, and the speed limit is not very high on some of them.

Another factor for us was that around every corner was an incredibly beautiful vista that we just had to stop at.

While I have included this as a mistake, I am not sure if it really is one. It is more of a suggestion of something to keep in mind if you need to be somewhere by a certain time.

One of the many creeks along a roadway.
One of the many creeks along a roadway. | Source

Mistake 4: Thinking Cell Service Would Be Good

I don't know about you, but I can't live without my cell phone anymore. Well I can, but I don't want to. Anyway, cell service is not that great in various areas of the Adirondacks, and that can either be a good or a bad thing.

The one time we really worried about it was when we got lost and had no service. I was concerned that if something happened to the car, we would have no way of contacting anyone.

On the other hand, it was kind of nice not getting texts or phone calls for a while.

One of the many beautiful lakes along a back road in the Adirondack mountains.
One of the many beautiful lakes along a back road in the Adirondack mountains. | Source

Mistake 5: Not Considering Mobility Issues

While my mother can walk, she does use a cane, and we did not really consider that when we were planning our trip. Of course we realized that she would not be doing any hiking or anything like that, but we thought that because we were staying in a decent-sized town, she would not have any problems getting around the streets.

Not only was the area hilly, but the sidewalks were also uneven, and it made it difficult for her to walk.

I understand that this is not an issue that some readers will have to consider, but if you, or someone that you are traveling with, have mobility issues, it is something to keep in mind.

The Places We Liked the Best

Lake Placid
Sure it is touristy, but if you want to do some shopping, and look at some interesting Olympic history, it's a fun town to visit.
Whiteface Mountain
I was the driver on this trip and I hate driving up mountain roads that I can see the edge of. That being said, I was determined to drive to the top. The highway was well-maintained and wide. There is a fee. Amazingly, I made it to the top. I will admit that I could not look at any of the scenery while I was driving, and my hands were stiff from gripping the wheel. But we made it and were rewarded with an incredible view.
Fall Foliage
What can I say about the fall foliage in this area except that it is absolutely stunning. We were surprised how few visitors were driving around at this time of year.
Baker Mountain
I admit that I am not in great shape, but I do enjoy low-key hiking, and I really wanted to hike to the top of a mountain. This one is short and has a well marked trail. However, despite some guides saying it was an easy hike, I don't think it was. In fact, it kicked my behind, but I was rewarded with an incredible view and a sense of accomplishment. Of course I couldn't move very much the next day.
The Wild Center
A beautiful center with exhibits on local history, plenty of walking trails, and a nice gift shop.

If you can get up the nerve, here is some great information for driving to the top of Whiteface Mountain.

View from the village of Lake Placid
View from the village of Lake Placid | Source

I'll Be Visiting Again

It was hard to find any problems with this trip. The scenery was spectacular and there were so many things to do. I definitely plan on visiting again, this time with my husband and daughter along for the ride.

Our biggest disappointment of the whole trip was that we did not see a moose. Hopefully next time we will.

The Adirondacks...What Do You Think About The Area?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Claudia Mitchell


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    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      7 months ago

      These tips definitely could be applied to other trips too. Thanks for reading.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      7 months ago from UK

      Some of the issues you mention sound very familiar. I think what you have learnt from this trip could also apply to other trips.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      7 months ago

      Thanks! I will definitely be searching for moose next time.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      7 months ago

      The fall pictures you have posted are stunning. Makes me want to visit the Adirondacks one day! Hopefully you'll spot a moose next time you visit. If you do, make sure to add a picture of it in this article!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      7 months ago

      Thanks Bill. Your article was so helpful when we were contemplating the drive. Like I said, I am terrified of driving up a road like that, and my mother doesn't drive anymore so I figured if I wanted to go to the top, I better do it. It wasn't bad until we got above the tree line, then I could only look at the road. LOL. I did pull over at the lookouts and the views were incredible. Thanks for reading.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      7 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Claudia. Great hub. This is a beautiful area, especially in the fall. Thanks so much for the link, so glad you made it to the top of Whiteface, the views are incredible.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      7 months ago

      I'm not a skier KonaGirl, but I can imagine how beautiful Lake Placid is around the holidays. I'd love to go back there in the snow, or anytime for that matter. How lucky to live near there. Thanks for reading.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image


      7 months ago from New York

      We live in upstate NY so we have gone to the Adirondacks pretty often. It is such a beautiful place! During the winter, Lake Placid is magical. Some of my favorite Christmas ornaments were purchased in the village shops there. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit even with your "mistakes". LOL.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      7 months ago

      Donna - It was so beautiful. I had no idea and we are so glad that is where we went. And if you like fall color, then that is a good time to go. I was pretty surprised at how empty it was, but we were there during the week and maybe that had something to do with it. Thanks for reading!

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 

      7 months ago from USA

      Hi Claudia - My husband and I recently saw a travel show on the Adirondacks and the host stayed in Saranac Lake. The whole area looks beautiful and we definitely want to visit there. This article will be very helpful in planning our trip. Thanks for sharing your tips!


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