Family Adirondack Mountains Adventure #3

We recently ventured out to the Adirondacks for a little adventure & to do some scouting for future adventures. I hope you find some of our research & experiences to provide some value in you planning your own family Adirondack adventure!
Scenic RouteSouvenirs
Moose Chasing ExpeditionOld Forge
Hiking: Shelving Rock FallsLake George
AccommodationsBolton Landing
Miniature GolfFuture Hit List

We recently ventured out to the Adirondack State Park for a little adventure & to do some scouting for future adventures. Although we have been through the Adirondack park pretty extensively, it has been only our third trip to the Adirondacks since we have had kids – and likely the first trip that any of them will remember. The Adirondack mountains are pretty much right in our backyard – so it is a shame that we don’t get there more often!

Since we are traveling with a 3 year old and living in a post-coronavirus global pandemic / mask wearing times – we knew that there would be some things we just couldn’t do yet. In many ways we considered this trip to just be a scouting mission to see what there is to do – and what we would like to do on future adventures as the kids get older. One of our other goals was to show the kids where we had been with them when they were younger.

I hope you find some of our research & experiences to provide some value in you planning your own family Adirondack State Park adventure!

Scenic Drive

Rating: 4 out of 5.

For our journey we entered the Adirondack park just north of Utica in upstate New York, passed through Old Forge and Inlet on 28 and then onto Lake George. (Route 12 onto Route 28 & then Route 9). Although this was not the most direct route for us – I figured that it would provide a nice scenic tour through the lower third of the Adirondack Park, with some opportunities to stop and explore a little.

I knew our ability to hike would be greatly impaired since we were traveling with a 3 year-old – so a little more exploring with the car seemed to be a good idea and a more practical way to cover some ground on this trip! We very much enjoyed this route and would definitely consider doing it again!


Moose Chasing Expedition

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Moose are a favorite animal of the Williamson children! So we were definitely interested in trying to spot one on our trip. In fact – it was one of our main goals for the trip this time!

The kids know that story about me coming face-to-face with a large male moose on a road trip to Alaska many years ago. One where I was able to get within about 10 -20 feet to the moose. The moose was on the side of the road eating some vegetation with it’s head down. It was easily my height (6 foot) at it’s shoulder. As I approached the moose for a close up shot – it raised it head and rack. I was amazed at how big he was and how he towered over me! It was only then that my wildlife – expert friend recommended I quickly back away from the moose – which I dutifully did!

We did some research prior to our trip to see where we might spot some moose and what we could do to increase the odds that we would be able to find one. (www.VisitAdirondacks.com, www.TheDailyStar.com, www.DEC.NY.Gov, & www.TimesUnion.com) Unfortunately, we weren’t going up as far north in the Adirondack park as we probably needed to be to significantly increase our chances of sighting a moose. On future trips we will be heading up farther north for at least part of our adventure.

Despite the fact that our adventure this time was confined to the southern end of the Adirondack park, some of the people we talked to in Old Forge had reported seeing moose in and around the area somewhat recently. In fact, when we were passing through Old Forge on the main drag – traffic came to a stop due to a large light brown animal crossing the road. Unfortunately, I was not able to snap a shot quickly enough to get a clear picture of the animal – but hey – I was driving!

Baby Moose??

I will tell you that there has been considerable and vigorous debate in our family over exactly what it was we saw crossing the road that day. I did some research and looked at various photos on Bing – and have concluded that (for my reality) what we saw was in fact a young moose calf! Members of my family may disagree with me – but I am sticking with my conclusion! And since I am the only one, up until this point, that has seen a living moose – in the wild, no less, I feel they should give me a little more deference than they do! See the picture and decide for yourself….

What did we see?Baby moose on left, young female deer on right.

Finally, although we were unable to spot a large male moose as we had hoped – 3 of the 4 children did walk away from our adventure with a stuffed animal moose! You have no idea how much we have spent on stuffed animals over the years…..


Hiking: Shelving Rock Falls (Lake George Region of The Adirondack Park)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Last year we went to Niagara Falls. An awesome family trip that you can read more about here: Family Travel Tips: Niagara Falls 2019. Let me be perfectly clear – Shelving Rock Falls are certainly no Niagara Falls! However, it was a wonderful experience that we very much enjoyed.

Dominick Top Of Shelving Rock Falls

There was not very much water falling while we were there. The falls themselves would have definitely been more impressive had there been more water. So just what did we enjoy so much about Shelving Rock Falls?

1) The drive to the falls was scenic and felt very remote. I would say that we were on unpaved roads for the majority of our time to the falls from Queensbury – which is where we stayed and departed for the falls. We went via Sly Pond Road. As you can see from the map – Shelving Rock Falls are about 1/3 of the way up Lake George on the East side of the lake.

2) The hike to the top of Shelving Rock Falls is a very pleasant hike – and we weren’t going to go to the Adirondacks and not do some hiking! The entire hike – from the parking area to the top of the falls was about 1/2 mile. The trail itself was wide and scenic. I would have preferred a little bit of a longer hike – but with a 3 year-old – it was just about the perfect distance!

Hiking @ Shelving Rock Falls 2020

3) The kids really enjoyed descending from the top of the falls to the brook below. Yes, it was rather steep – and we did not let the 3 year-old do this part of the hike – as we felt it was too dangerous for her. One of us stayed at the top with her and kept her at arms distance at all times to ensure her safety.

4) Everyone enjoyed being able to be so close to the falls – and being able to reach out and touch and climb them. Something that you really just can’t do at Niagara Falls.

5) We were able to launch and fly my oldest daughter’s drone right from the top of the falls. You can see the video she put together of our flights here:

Drone Footage of Shelving Rock Falls

Final thoughts on Shelving Rock Falls

  • Parking is very limited where the trail begins! I would estimate that there is room for only about 10 -15 cars in the designated parking area. There are also numerous signs indicating that parking on the road is not permitted and that this restriction is strictly enforced. We did pass some other parking areas that were farther away – and it is a dusty, unpaved road – so parking there and walking may not be the best experience. So get there early!
  • Leave yourself enough time to get out of the boondocks while it is still light – as you probably don’t want to drive those unpaved roads in the dark.
  • Wear appropriate footwear for hiking – especially if you plan on descending to the brook below the falls – as it is steep! Descending to the brook may not be appropriate or safe for younger children. At the time of the hike our kids were 11, 10, 8 and 3.

Accommodations

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Country Inn & Suites is usually our fall-back motel when we travel and need to spend a night on the road. It is not usually a destination motel for us. However, we were unsuccessful in finding a log cabin or Adirondack lodge that met our requirements before departing for our trip. The only Country Inn & Suites in the Adirondacks is in Queensbury – which is just outside Lake George.

It was our first stay at this specific Country Inn & Suites and we felt it was satisfactory. It did show some signs of needed maintenance and repair – but was still very comfortable and clean. There was a noticeably small amount of artwork and decorations in the rooms – and the small gym was closed due to the coronavirus. Coincidentally, the gym did also seem to be the storage site for possibly new room artwork & decorations? Although we would stay here again – our preference, while in the Adirondacks, would definitely be a log cabin or lodge!

We do plan on staying in a log cabin on a future Adirondack adventure – but will need to do a little more research with regards to options available. We will be sure to report back to you when we find something that appeals to us and is reasonably priced.

One we are considering for NEXT year (Since they are not opening in 2020 for individual bookings) is the Glen Lodge B&B. It looks very interesting and inviting! Reviews of the place are great too! They also offer a package deal with rafting included in a 2 night stay which


Miniature Golf

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Miniature golf is a vacation type activity we enjoy as a family. About 7 years ago was the last time that we were up in the Lake George area. At that time we took Gracie (now 11 , then 4 years-old) and Dominick (Now 10, then 3 years-old) to Pirates Cove Mini-Golf course in Lake George.

Although there is another Pirates Cove just down the street in Queensbury about 5 miles away and is actually closer to where we stayed – we still chose to play at the Lake George location. Part of that was because of nostalgia and other part because we are not fans of stinky gas machines – and the Queensbury location had a mini-car area right next to it.

I find it humorous that there are presently about 25 Pirate’s Cove Miniature Golf locations across the United States, with only 2 in New York State – both of which are in the Lake George area only 4.6 miles apart!

Dominick was the big winner at miniature golf for this outing! I helped Sophie the entire time and we came in with a score of 47 for 18 holes. Dominick, who had 2 holes-in-one, beat us with a score of 45. Dominick also won a coupon with one of the holes-in-one – which has no expiration date and is good for $1 off for each person in the party. Gracie had a score of 53 and Annie had 55. We all had fun – especially Sophie!


Souvenirs

Rating: 3 out of 5.

We give the kids each a budget for souvenirs for each trip we take. The money is their own that they have earned from various incentives we have laid out for them. However, we still mutually agree to a budget with them prior to departing for the trip. Usually it is on the order of $40 – $60 each. Sometimes they spend it all – many times they do not. You can read more about the incentive system we use here: The Dollar Drop.

Souvenirs shops seem to close very early in the Adirondack area! Our favorite shop was the Moose River Trading Company in Thendara (just across the bridge from Old Forge), and was the very first one we stopped at on our trip. We stopped at the shop again on our way back home – but unfortunately we got there just a few minutes before 5:00 PM and were very disappointed to find the shop already closed. This was on a Thursday evening. We tried another shop on the main strip – and that one was just closing too. Too bad – because they had the nicest t-shirts we had seen on our entire trip – and the kids had intended on getting a few! I guess we will have to try again next time!


Old Forge

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Old Forge is a small hamlet right on Route 28 located at the southwestern end of Adirondack Park. It is basically a little strip town that acts as the western gateway to the Adirondacks! It is also the home of Enchanted Forest Water Safari – a water park that I grew up with constantly hearing their catchy commercials on the radio every summer. I can still hear the little jingle in my head now!

This is a nice little town with some quaint souvenir shops. It is also the home of the Old Forge Lake Cruises – which tours the Fulton chain of lakes. It also has an old mill and a covered bridge – which can provide some great photo ops!

I like Old Forge and kind of think of it as one of the quintessential little town located in the Adirondacks. You might not feel it is worth staying there – but if you are close or passing through – I would say it is worth a stop.


Lake George Village

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Google Street View Lake George Village

The village of Lake George is at the southern end of the lake (Lake George) and offers an interesting mix of shops, restaurants and hotels. It is one of the better known villages in the Adirondacks and is a year-round tourist destination.

We have been to the village of Lake George several times and enjoy resort-y feel of the village – except when there is either a motorcycle or classic car convention in town! It is basically a one strip village – as are many of the smaller villages and hamlets in the Adirondacks. That is both a blessing and a curse! A curse – because there is a surprising amount of traffic for such a small and remote village. A blessing since it is pretty easy to find everything.

We didn’t like the parking situation – but again – that is a common theme with most of these smaller Adirondack towns. We also didn’t like that we couldn’t really walk along the beach this time – but that was coronavirus related, I’m sure.

We were a little surprised on this trip to see as much activity in the village as there was! Did people not get the memo that there is currently a global pandemic going on??


Bolton Landing

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Bolton Landing is on the west side of Lake George and about 1/3 of the way up the lake. It is a small hamlet that is right on Route 9 North an is significantly smaller in size than the village of Lake George.

Stop if you are going up or down Route 9 N or going to one of the beaches (Rogers Memorial Park Beach or Huddle Bay Beach – which is technically in Diamond Point) on the west side of Lake George – otherwise I probably wouldn’t bother.


Hit List of Activities to Do in the Adirondacks on Future Adventures!

1) Rail Bikes4) Zip Lining
2) Rafting5) Lake Placid
3) Huddle Bay Beach6) Alger Island

We used this trip to scout out some things to do and places to visit in the future. Here is our present hit-list for future adventures!

1) Rail Bikes

Rail Bikes @ Adirondack Scenic Rail Bikes in Thendara

When we stopped at Adirondack Scenic Rail Bikes and watched a group take off on their adventure – these bikes looked like a lot of fun – and something we would like to do as a family!

Rail bikes are basically recumbent bicycles that are designed to go on train tracks as opposed to the road. Each bike can hold 4 individuals – who can each peddle. Oh – and the sections of track that you can ride on are closed off to trains and other traffic!

As of July 2020 there appear to be two outfits that you can rent these from in the Adirondacks:

  1. Adirondack Scenic Rail Bikes in Thendara – which is right next to Old Forge and
  2. RevRail in North Creek.
About 65 miles distance between the two rail bike outfits.

We considered doing this on this trip – but Adirondack Scenic Rail Bikes only had 4 bikes @ and they were booked up until the end of the following week! My understanding is that they are presently adding more bikes to their business. Regardless, I would still recommend that you book early so you are guaranteed a spot!

For additional information on rail biking int he Adirondacks check out the following links: Bing Search Rail Bikes Adirondacks, Saranac Lake


2) Rafting

Rafting Adirondacks There are a lot of choices when it comes to rafting in the Adirondacks – but ALL of them appear to be in the southern half of the Adirondacks!

Way back when I was in law school we went white water rafting – if not technically in the Adirondacks – it was very near. It was a lot of fun – and as the kids get a little older – it is definitely something we will be looking to do!

On our way back out of the Adirondacks we saw a bunch of rafters coming down one of the rivers – and it reminded me of how much fun I had the day that I went – and that there are all different levels of rapids you can encounter – or you can opt for more of a “lazy river” experience!

Google Street View of Wild Waters Outdoor Center

The outfit I am presently leaning towards is Wild Waters Outdoor Center which has been in business since 1983 and has a package with the Glen Lodge B&B mentioned above.


3) Huddle Bay Beach

Google Earth Image of Huddle Bay Road & Beach

We found this tiny & secluded public beach 7 years ago when we where last in the Adirondacks with the kids. Huddle Bay Beach (and Huddle Beach Road) are just South of Bolton Landing in Diamond Point. We tried to get down to the beach on this trip – but it was blocked off and closed by order of the Governor due to the coronavirus.

This is the type of place I really like to find – and am reluctant to share! We were here twice – and both times there were very few people. The bigger beach of Rogers Memorial Park Beach might appeal to more people – but not me. I’ll take the secluded little beach that no one can find every time!

Just don’t get confused and go down Huddle lane (which is a private road) and expect to find the beach. Huddle Bay road is right before Huddle Lane as you are going north – and you might just miss it if you blink….


4) Zip Lining

There appear to be 2 places to zip line in the Adirondacks – Adirondack Extreme Adventure located in Bolton Landing and Experience Outdoors in Lake Placid. This is something that Grcie – my 11 year-old – really wants to do!


5) Lake Placid

Melani and I have been to Lake Placid in the past – but it was a looOoong time ago – before we had any kids. We really enjoyed the charming little town and all the shops. I remember that we stayed at the Mirror Lake Inn – which was wonderful experience!

Update: In August of 2021 we did visit Lake Placid again and stayed for 3 nights. You can read about our time there in this post: Adventure Update # 059: Sophie’s Lotion-Potion #5!


6) Alger Island

Canoe to Alger Island. This is something I did as a kid – and really enjoyed it. I have to look into this more – but I believe we departed out of Inlet on Fourth Lake and paddled all the way to Alger Island to camp for a few nights.


I will continue to refine & add to this post as I do more research and narrow down exactly what our next adventure in the Adirondack mountains will entail – so please check back!

Sincerely,

Chip
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Chip
Blessed father of 4 wonderful children & trophy husband to 1 lovely wife. Part-time blogger, full-time nerd & aspiring Renaissance man!
Articles: 179

All constructive comments are welcome!

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