Lake Placid is one of those places that never seems to let you down, whether it’s winter, spring, summer, fall, rainy, sunny, snowy, cloudy, it consistently provides you with a sense of relief and serenity (I can’t believe I just used that word…). Growing up, my mom’s side of the family would spend our summer’s here camping, hiking, cliff jumping, pretty much anything outdoors related, I had the same feeling about the place then as I do now, just pure stoke. I mean, not only is the wilderness in the area sweet, but the little town is so cool, all the locals are super chill, always providing advice on places to see, the views witnessed from the centre of town are insane, the fact that you’re in a mountain town 5 hours from the Greater Toronto Area has always felt surreal to me. The main strip of town is filled with rad stores, pubs, snowboard/ski shops, motels, a beach and a Starbucks of course..haha. That shitty, 1999 film ‘Lake Placid’ doesn’t do this place the justice it deserves.
Early last week, Kayley, and I thought to ourselves that we needed to get my mom out of the house considering she’s had a stressful year so far and there would be a few more weeks of stress ahead, this woman needed to destress, catch some fresh air and recharge those mental batteries. With flights anywhere around North America being insanely expensive, so anywhere super far was out of the question, Kayley then remembered we wanted to hike and camp around the Adirondacks before winter arrived (this having been our 3rd time visiting the area in the last year and half, you could say we are fans of the place), we brought the idea up to my mom and she was excited (minus the camping part, we wanted to give her more of a vacation than having to deal with all the work that can come with camping). Within a day’s time, a hotel room was booked, hikes were planned and off we went Thursday morning!
The drive into the Adirondacks is always nice, the farm land in Upstate NY is beautiful, then once you enter the mountain range, it becomes even that much more beautiful and excitement takes over. We arrived at the Summit Hotel mid afternoon which is situated on Mirror Lake, one of the classic hotels in the area, and with our fingers crossed, we were able to snag a room facing the lake!
Once we got our stuff settled in, to town we went! This hotel provided the best location, it’s positioned at the northern section of town, the perfect walking distance to everything around. We trekked around Main Street, took in the sights, my mom got some Christmas shopping done at the multitude of little shops, and headed to a local favourite pub, Lake Placid Pub & Brewery.
The Brewery is awesome, they brew all the beers on tap in house, ranging from Stouts to IPAs, the food is super good (they even have vegetarian options 🙂 ), and the atmosphere is chill per usual. I recommend it to anyone passing through, but get their early, it gets busy, fast!
Bellies full, a bit of a buzz, it was time to watch some hockey in the hotel room and call it a night, we had a big hike ahead of us in the morning.
The next morning was a brisk one, -3’C to be exact, the perfect hiking weather if you ask me. We got some breakfast in our stomaches, got geared up, and b-lined it for the trailhead.
I decided to pick Hurricane Mountain as the first hike to conquer on day one, doing my research I found that many hikers recommend this to all experienced hikers, providing amazing views, a newly built fire-tower on the summit that is open for climbing and is a bit challenging (easy hikes are boring…). The summit was 5.6kms from the trailhead, making for a total of 11.2kms round trip, and an elevation of 3,694-feet (the 8th tallest mountain in all of the Adirondacks), I estimated that this should be a full day, probably taking us 4.5-5hrs, depending on how fast we moved and number of breaks we took. Now, I forgot to mention that my mom had surgery 3 months ago and this was something she wanted to do to prove to herself she was capable, I believed she was! I mean, this is a woman who hikes with our dog 5-6kms every morning. If anything, she was more in shape for this than Kayley or I.
As I was signing the hiking book (this is for safety measures, if we we’re to ever get stuck on the mountain, rescuers would be able to identify us very quickly), a group of older men were starting the ascent as well, and would you know it, they travelled from Richmond Hill, Ontario, it truly is a small world. Also, it is always somewhat comforting to know others are hiking the same trail, because if anything we’re to happen, there are others close by.
The hike to the summit held multiple landscapes, from little streams covered in fallen maple leaves, to walkways alongside bogs, to steep rocky faces and even altitude forests. With the cloudy weather, it at least made for a comfortable temperature, but we were hoping for clear skies once we reached the summit.
After a couple breaks, and a few Kms covered, we finally started to feel the change in elevation, our breathes felt shorter, the air seemed much cooler and very still. It’s always important to take deep, long breathes when getting elevated, helps you stay consistent in your hike, without becoming tired too quickly.
After about 1:30hrs, we finally saw our first hiker returning from the summit, it was reassuring to know it was only about 45mins more of hiking (uphill of course), and that it was covered in snow, I was pumped! As we climbed higher, the trees got shorted, our strides got smaller and our hunger grew stronger. We ended passing two more groups of hikers (One group consisted of 3 badass older ladies, telling us that the rest of hike was a breeze…you could say that was a good way to motivate us haha) on their way down, continually feeding our reassurance that we we’re so ever close to our destination.
Up ahead came what looked to be a rock faced summit, feeling excited that we reached it, we we’re wrong, as we turned to the left, there was the fire-tower starring right back at us, from this viewpoint and our burning legs beneath us, it felt like another million miles away, but I remembered reading that the summit from this point looks deceivingly farther than reality. We all said to ourselves, imagine how sweet it is going to be once we reach the top, all of sudden our legs didn’t seem so sore.
Before we knew it, there was the last climb to the summit, it consisted of a tight icy rocky pathway, being careful of every step. But I was mostly stoked to experience a slice of winter as it began to snow a tad.
The summit was so rad. It provided a 360′ view of the surrounding mountain range, the whole top is just one large rock face, giving you the ability to explore the entire summit free of any obstructions, then the clouds started to break up, allowing us to see pretty far outwards, you even could visibly see the runs on Whiteface Mountain to the north. Also, Kayley was the only brave one to climb the fire-tower which was absolutely covered in ice, I don’t mess with heights, I’ll hike up a mountain and stand on the summit but for some reason, certain kinds of heights mess with my head. All three of us took many pictures, hugged each other in celebration, took a couple moments of silence and back down we went, it was a little too chilly up there to break for lunch.
Our descent was just as nice as the ascent, the sun came out warming our cold bones, our legs felt a bit rubbery but we able to get down pretty fast, the descent is usually done quicker than ascent. It’s funny, you always think to yourself, how in the world did we ever make it to top haha.
No doubt we’re we tired. Back to town we went. After a nice hot shower, we grabbed some well deserved pizza for dinner, had a couple beers, went back to the hotel, stretched the legs, watched the Blue Jay’s lose and got ready for the follow days hike.
The following morning came, feeling a bit sore but overall everyone felt great and ready for round 2. I decided today’s hike would be more mellow since we did the difficult hike on day 1, our legs might of felt good now, but once the hike began I knew they would be aching. After an another solid breakfast, and feeling fully caffeinated, to the trail we went! Today we we’re to conquer Mount Van Hoevenberg, which was a 3.5km climb to the summit, leaving us with an 7km round trip, an elevation of 2,939 ft, with the goal of finishing up in under 4hrs. Apparently, the views up top are one of the best in the area and somewhat of a hidden gem, only really known by locals.
After parking the car down the road from the trailhead, we came to entrance of the trail, signed ourselves in and got those legs moving. The first section of the hike is super mellow, pretty flat, minimal steep sections and amazing forests to stare at as you walk by.
Once we made our way around the giant bog, the hike began to work its way straight up hill, our legs we’re not all that happy with us, breaks were needed every so often to ensure we didn’t burn out. Although, it was nice to see some leaves still in season, giving us the feeling that fall was still present.
After a tiring climb, we could sense the summit was near since there wasn’t any room to go up anymore haha. Through an opening we could see open sky which mean’t we had arrived and was the view ever worth the climb. The summit gave us two awesome lookouts, giving us clear sights of Mt. Marcy (the largest mountain in the Adirondacks), along with a couple of the Big 6. It was a solid place to relax, listen to wind making its way through the mountain range and get rehydrated. It was quite sublime.
After stuffing our faces full of food, back down we went. And coming down was the hardest part, at this point our legs we’re worked, the ground was wet, making it so you needed to pay attention to every step. But, I don’t want to it sound like I’m complaining, we all would rather be doing this than anything else.
That rest of the day was spent checking out some more of the shops in town (Lake Placid Ski and Board is a favourite of mine), grabbing some grub at the Two Dancing Bears Pub, more stretching and by the time 10:30pm rolled around we we’re more than ready for bed.
Another trip to Lake Placid in the books, a couple more summits added to the list and more memories in the good old brain bank. Anyone who lives within a reasonable driving distance to area, loves hiking, snowboarding/skiing, fishing, camping or anything outdoor related should add this place to their list, trust me you won’t be disappointed, it never fails to amaze me.