After my little Appalachian Trail adventure, what I really needed was a relaxing beach vacation, but that wasn’t what I had planned. Instead, I had a week of outdoor adventure in Northern New York, and to be honest, I was craving some more quality time outdoors anyway. Luckily, this trip was a lot less intense than my previous one, and it was well-balanced with delicious food and drinks, plus I didn’t have to camp out at night; it was the best of both worlds.
In both the Adirondack Park and 1000 Islands, there are countless opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature. From hiking to fishing and cycling to mountaineering, the list goes on and on. As a group, we were lucky enough to try a few of the activities during our short visit, and I know I am already looking forward to heading back to the region again soon.
Nature Walk at Point au Roche State Park
Our first adventure of the week was a nature walk on the trails of Point au Roche State Park, and Ken Adams, president of the Friends of Point au Roche State Park association, was our knowledgable guide. Before the park was established as a “Forever Wild” state park in 1978, it was farmland, a summer camp, and even a theme park in the 1950’s. Then, in the 1980’s, the Friends of Point au Roche State Park association was established to take care of the area so that it could be enjoyed for years to come. The park covers 850 acres with more than 14 miles of trail to explore, along with six miles of Lake Champlain shoreline.
The trails are well-maintained and easy to navigate. In the summer months, they are used for hiking and biking and in the winter, they are open for cross country skiing and snowshoeing; I would love to head back and spend some time on them once the temperature drops a bit. When we were done exploring, we decided to head to the beach to soak up the sun on the shores of Lake Champlain.
But, when we arrived we were greeted with cloudy skies and wind. The water was relatively warm, so a few of us dipped our feet in. I also warmed up a bit by working on my yoga moves, which I may add were not as easy with strong wind and waves knocking at my feet. We hung out for a bit enjoying the views and scenery until it was time for us to enjoy a picnic lunch compliments of My Cup of Tea in Plattsburgh.
Fly Fishing on the Ausable River
For years, I have wanted to give fly fishing a try, and the Ausable River seemed like an ideal spot to give it a chance. The group was split into two groups of three for the activity, and I was with Vicky and Jayme. The three of us wanted to learn and see if we could catch any fish, but we were most looking forward to the photos we’d gain from the experience.
We pulled up to The Hungry Trout Fly Shop, where we met our guide, Matt. He picked out our gear for us, and we put on our waders over our bikinis in an attempt to make them look as stylish as possible. Then, Matt set up our rods and gave us a little tutorial on the lawn, where we gathered a bit of attention and had a few laughs. There, I learned that I was not a natural at fly fishing, instead I resembled a robot; the more I tried, the worse I got.
After a few more tips, we made our way to the river, which was conveniently located directly behind the shop. Through the woods we went, but it wasn’t easy in our boots and our fishing poles kept getting stuck in the trees; I wish we had a video of it because it was really quite funny.
Once we got to the river, Matt got us set up and ready to fish, and I immediately realized the effort this kind of fishing takes. You can’t just cast out the rod and leave it there, as the current takes it down and away. Instead, you have to keep casting it out over and over again, and with my robotic casting skills, I can’t say I was too thrilled to learn that this was what fly fishing is all about.
After some time attempting to catch a few fish, we all decided that we had had enough of the activity. Making it even more difficult was the fact that it started raining, and I think we were all a little impatient since none of the fish were cooperating. The girls and I also concluded that fly fishing would be more fun if there were beers involved.
Since we had a little extra time, we decided to head to a local area called the Flume, popular for swimming and cliff jumping. Although we didn’t jump off the cliff because we were too lazy to take off our waders, we did have our own fun.
Instead of sitting there waiting for fish to bite, we enjoyed hanging out in the water and posing for photos; all in all, I’d say it was a successful first attempt at fly fishing. In the future, I would like to give it another try, though next time I’ll be better prepared for the experience.
Canoeing Lower Saranac Lake
Canoeing is an activity I’ve barely done in my thirty years, aside from a sixth grade field trip where I paddled around a small lake until I got bored, rather quickly I may add. But, it was on our agenda and my attention span has improved a bit over the years, so I was excited to give it a go. Our group headed to Adirondacks Lakes and Trails to get outfitted for our adventure, then we hopped in their van and off we went to experience the region from the water.
We unloaded at Second Pond, where there’s a boat launch site, and we partnered up with each other, got ready, and headed out. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous realizing that we’d be paddling five miles from our start point to Ampersand Bay; once we were in the water, there was no turning back.
I had no idea how much arm strength and skill was required to get around. Luckily, I had been paired with Jayme, who patiently taught me to how paddle. For a while, we got into a groove and balanced talking and paddling, until the skies opened up and the rain began to pour down on us. We decided it was the ideal time for a break and a perfect photo opportunity.
Eventually, the skies cleared, Craig and Vicky caught up to us, and we figured it would be fun to have a race. I tried to sing Disney songs while paddling because Pocahontas and Just Around the River Bend seemed fitting, but I quickly realized that I can’t sing and paddle. Determined to win the race, I shut up and we wound up making it to shore second, just behind Sandy and Vanessa, but more importantly before Craig and Vicky.
We all got to shore safely, unloaded and waited for our ride back to Adirondacks Lakes and Trails, since we made it quicker than expected. Lucky for us, while we were waiting, we met three guys who had just spent a few days camping on one of the lake’s islands. They even had a ice cold leftover beers in their cooler and were willing to share.
After all of our hard work, those beers were well-deserved, and they made the challenges we had faced earlier all worth it. Now knowing what canoeing involves, I would absolutely give it another chance. Although next time, I’d like to avoid the rain and bring a cooler of my own beers for the journey.
Hiking Mount Arab
Hiking is by far my favorite outdoor activity, and I was excited that we’d be spending some time in the mountains during the trip. Even though I just got out of the woods, it was comforting to step back in them, especially with nothing on my back. I could freely run up the trail and enjoy each and every moment, it was exactly what I needed.
The only other hike I have done in the Adrirondack region was Mt. Marcy, which stands at 5,344 feet and is New York’s highest peak. Making this experience even more difficult was the fact that I summited in March, when the mountain was still covered in ice and snow.
Hiking Mt. Arab was a welcome change, and I was looking forward to a new experience in the mountains. We hiked a mile uphill, with an elevation of 750 feet, to the top, which stands at 2,546 feet and were lucky to have a clear view. At the top, there was also a fire tower, which offered 360 degree views of the area, but just like on the AT, I was too afraid of heights to climb up it.
The hike was an easy climb up, though occasionally steep and rocky, but nothing too difficult to handle. It was nice to have a short adventure in the woods and to be able to take the time to enjoy it. There was no rush, and we could fully immerse ourselves in the beauty that surrounded us on the trail.
Biking and Kayaking to Boomerang Island
Even after my canoeing adventure, I was looking forward to kayaking in Eel Bay to Boomerang Island, though I was a bit nervous that I’d be alone and only have my own paddling skills to rely on. But, after a quick bike ride through picturesque Wellesley Island to where the boats were waiting, there wasn’t much time to think.
Holly, owner of Boomerang Bike & Kayak Rentals and our guide for the morning, gave me a quick lesson and it seemed easy enough. That was until the winds and current picked up. It took a lot more energy and rowing power than I was expecting, but I slowly made my way to Boomerang Island with the encouragement and support of Holly. Even though it was tough getting there, calm water was waiting for us, along with Holly’s homemade scones and chocolate chip cookies.
Luckily, Holly had her boat waiting on the island to take us back in case we ran out of time, which we did, and as we loaded on the rain began to pour down on us once more. Since we were getting used to the rain at this point, we hopped on the bikes and paddled through town once more passing happy kids on summer vacation.
The adventures in this area truly are endless, and it was a great reminder that I don’t always have to go far from home to experience the great outdoors. While in the past I had only experienced outdoor adventure in Northern New York during the winter, it has quickly become one of my favorite places to do so in the summertime as well. We weren’t always welcomed with the greatest weather, as the rain seemed to follow us wherever we went, but we did enjoy our time spent outdoors no matter what adventures were in store for us.
A special thank you to the team at ROOST for having me on the #EatPlayLoveNY trip throughout Northern New York. As always, all opinions are my own.