Hiking and Canoeing
With 2,000 miles of hiking trails, and canoe routes stretching 100 miles or more, the Adirondacks is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Free, basic information on hiking trails, canoe routes, and tips for using the state’s lands can be obtained by contacting the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC; 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233, 518/402-9428, www.dec.state.ny.us).
Some of the DEC’s brochures include enough information to actually embark on a hike or canoe trip, but many do not. The best source for more detailed information and maps—essential in many areas—is the Adirondack Mountain Club (814 Goggins Rd., Lake George, NY 12845, 518/668-4447, www.adk.org). The ADK maintains visitor information centers at Lake George and Lake Placid and runs the Adirondak Loj, a rustic lodge and campground at Lake Placid.
Two of the best hiking guides for visitors new to the Adirondack region are the ADK’s An Adirondack Sampler: Day Hikes for All Seasons, by Bruce Wadsworth; and Fifty Hikes in the Adirondacks, by Barbara McMartin (Backcountry Publications). Wadsworth’s book focuses primarily on hikes for beginners, while McMartin’s describes hikes of varying difficulty.
Among the many fish that swim the Adirondack waters are landlocked salmon, brook trout, lake trout, northern pike, pickerel, and small- and large-mouth bass. Meanwhile, the St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands offers some of the world’s best bass and muskie fishing. The largest muskellunge ever caught in the region weighed over 69 pounds.
Fishing licenses are mandatory for everyone over age 16 and can be obtained in sporting-goods stores, bait shops, and town offices. The DEC maintains fishing hotlines with information on good fishing spots: In the southeastern Adirondacks, call 518/623-3682; for the High Peaks and northwestern lakes, call 518/891-5413; for the Thousand Islands, call 800/248-4386.
North Country Guides and Outfitters
North Country Guides and Outfitters is a firmly entrenched Adirondack institution. Traditionally thought of as a crusty, plaid-jacketed man wise in the ways of the woods, he’s been around since the mid-19th century, when naive city folk coming up to explore the wilderness needed someone to help them find their way around and stay alive.
The Adirondack Guides’ Association was formed in 1891 to help establish a uniform pay scale, and today hundreds of guides operate throughout the region. They’re not as necessary as they once were, thanks to well-marked trails and detailed maps, but they can still guide you to out-of-the-way spots. Many also offer guided group trips, and rent or sell outdoor gear.
For a complete list of guides, contact the New York State Outdoor Guides Association (1936 Saranac Ave., Lake Placid, NY 12946, 866/469-7642, www.nysoga.com).
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition