Natural High

The mountain ranges in the Eastern U.S. can be some of the most beautiful places on Earth.

By Linda Marx

The Adirondack Mountains, located in northeastern New York about a fivehour drive from Manhattan, have an elevation of 5,344 feet, which make them seem spiritual and otherworldly. They are bordered on the east by Lake Champlain and Lake George, the south by Mohawk Valley and the west by Tug Hill, separated by the Black River.
Adirondack means ”bark eater,” a name given to the Indians who dwelled there and ate bark for sustenance. Maybe there is something special in that bark, but within sprawling forests, peaceful lakes and an abundance of wildlife dotted roads, the Adirondacks offer an exotic peace and quiet amid a rugged, a we inspiring beauty that takes your breath away.

Known for long and snowy winters, short but scenic summers, and vividly colorful autumns, the Adirondacks are a gigantic wilderness retreat with occasional wildly rough terrain. The mountain range is part of the 6.1 million-acre Adirondack Park, which includes a protected Forest Preserve of about 2.3 million acres.

There are many small towns in the region, but be sure to visit two: Sarnac Lake is a delightful village with 186 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, and an annual Winter Carnival (Feb. 4-13, 2011) offering outdoor sports, dances, performances, parades, fireworks and the famous Ice Palace; nearby, Lake Placid held the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, when the U.S. hockey team defeated the Soviet Union.

Destinations_Travel_proof-3Destinations_Travel_proof-1The 128-year-old Lake Placid Lodge, a popular “great camp” setting, has the kind of outdoor elegance that would satisfy the most demanding traveler. Situated within six million acres of woodland, the mountain lodge has had many names and facades—first as a private “camp” built on the shores of freshwater Lake Placid, then public, after 1946, as a charming yet rustic hotel called Placid Manor at Whiteface Mountain.

The pet-friendly Lake Placid Lodge was recently renovated after a 2005 fire destroyed much of its architecture and historical detail. The new look combines refined solitude with rich architectural detail. It offers a quiet, cozy vacation in the same spirit as the original 1882 structure that attracted wealthy members of New York society. It is just better equipped for a more inclusive and younger person’s interests, like the Internet access without driving 45 minutes, and the addition of fine furnishings and linens throughout the spectacular guest rooms in vibrant colors of the lake, sky and surrounding forest.

An antique desk greets guests when they enter the Lodge, and a collection of Hudson River School paintings are displayed on the walls of several rooms. Inside are charming limestone fireplaces that were put together by a local stone carver. The entryway and other rooms are constructed of strong wood beams and painted in original pine green and claret tones to maintain the aged look. The paneled library is dominated by large columns of yellow birch and installed with bark intact for authenticity. Other walls are decorated with old maps of the Adirondacks.

The owners used local materials in the recreation. The Adirondack style is basically stick and twig furniture, which reflects the rustic surroundings. Rugged, natural, raw, earthy and woodsy describe the style that became recognized by design buffs as far back as 1910. Furniture, furnishings and art have been made from materials found in the woods by craftspeople, artists and tour guides. And there is a great deal of wicker and Mission-style furniture.

Accommodations are located in the Main Lodge and around the grounds. The Whiteface Suite, atop the Main Lodge, features a large balcony and offers drop-dead beautiful views of Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain. The hand-carved, platform featherbed stares at the limestone wood-burning fireplace. The bathroom is spacious with a soaking tub, separate shower and his-and-hers vanities.

Destinations_Travel_proof-1Suites in the renovated lakeside building are designed with Adirondack furniture and a separate living room with a oodburning fireplace, and private porches to drink in the views. Log and timber cottages built in the 1920s snuggle at water’s edge, yet are reachable from the Main Lodge via covered walkway. Each is equipped with large featherbeds, stone fireplaces, wet bars, sitting vignettes and luxurious baths. (Massages are provided in-room.) For winter guests, snowshoeing and both downhill and cross country skiing are the most popular sports. Also, visit the Olympic attractions, like the Olympic Center and Museum, Olympic Gondola, or Ice Skating and Ski Jumping Complex.

Weather permitting, there is hiking, boating on the lake, mountain biking, fishing for bass, perch and rainbow trout, croquet, tennis, golf (courses all around, including 45 holes at the Lake Placid Club), rock climbing, horseback riding and whitewater rafting.

The general area has several museums and farms for exploring. Visit the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks on 31 acres in Tupper Lake, the Adirondacks Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, and abolitionist John Brown’s restored 19th-century farmhouse is open from May to October, while the John Brown Trail is accessible all year. Lie back and let the purity of the mountain air and the natural splendor of the settings dictate your agenda.



Lake Placid area kosher food information can be discussed with the reservation line before booking rooms. Lake Placid Lodge, Whiteface Inn Road, Lake Placid, NY 12946, 877.523.2700.