Route 9N leads northwest from Elizabethtown to Keene, the “Town of High Peaks.” Completely surrounded by jagged mountaintops, Keene centers on one main street lined with white frame houses, white picket fences, and tourist-oriented shops.
Most noticeable among them is North Country Taxidermy (Main St./Rte. 73, 518/576-4318), sporting stuffed bears and wolves out front. The shop stocks a wide array of gifts, including antlers—sold out of big bins—stuffed birds, mounted heads, leather goods, and bearskin rugs.
Adirondack Alpine Adventures (518/576-9881, www.alpineadventures.biz) offers rock- and ice-climbing guide service and instruction in the area, as well as backcountry ski trips.
Route 73 climbs west out of Keene to Lake Placid. For much of the way, the route follows the riverbed of the wide Cascade Brook. En route you’ll pass two sparkling lakes ringed with trees.
Hiking Hurricane Mountain
On the north side of Route 9N, 6.8 miles west of Elizabethtown and 1.6 miles past Hurricane Road, a small parking area and sign point the way to Hurricane Mountain. The red-marked trail passes through a pretty coniferous forest before heading up a ridge to the rocky summit pass.
At the top await superb views of the Jay Range, the Green Mountains, Mt. Marcy, and Whiteface Mountain. The Adirondack Mountain Club lists the moderate-to-difficult hike as 5.3 miles round-trip, averaging about 4.5 hours.
The historic Bark Eater Inn (Alstead Hill Rd., Keene, 518/576-2221, www.barkeater.com, $99–160, with breakfast) centers on a sprawling, two-story farmhouse complete with stone fireplaces, wide floorboards, and seven guest rooms with shared baths. Two snug annexes offer four more rooms, these with private baths, while a new log cabin reigns as the honeymoon suite ($245 d). Surrounding the inn are miles of woodland perfect for horseback riding, hiking, and cross-country skiing. The inn keeps a string of 50 horses and offers guided horseback-riding trips at no extra charge.
Housed in a lovely Italianate building is the Keene Valley Lodge (Rte. 73, Keene Valley, 518/576-2003, www.keenevalleylodge.com, $85–195, with breakfast), a B&B that offers a variety of rooms, some of which share baths, some of which are suites. Guest rooms are furnished with antiques, while downstairs is a lounge with a fireplace and wraparound porch.
A Keene Valley landmark, the Noon Mark Diner (Main St./Rte. 73, 518/576-4499) is the place to go for homemade pies of every fruit and mix of fruits imaginable, as well as homemade donuts, soups, and bread, and chili, burgers, and simple dinners.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition