Labor Day Family Fun: Hurricane Irene can't stop Lake Placid, Whiteface and Beyond from Having Lots to Do
Good grief Irene. Not only did she cause havoc and leave us with a mess to clean up she instigated a pile of mischief for vacationers and homeowners. (Read Kimberly Rielly's post on how to get here.) There are detours around the Essex County area and plenty of information out there to get you to Lake Placid, Whiteface Mountain, a dinner in Keene Valley or a shopping extravaganza down Main Street. We are such creatures of habit, that we think there is only one yellow brick road that leads to the Olympic City. Not so, grasshopper.
Yesterday I drove all the roads that I was allowed to around the Keene, Keene Valley, Jay, and Wilmington area. From Route 73 to Route 9N and back I witnessed the effects of Tropical Storm irene. The part that really struck a nerve was the number of open flags that hung from businesses surrounded by the backwash of the Ausable River. One shop keeper assured me that the best way to help was to make sure people knew that the stores, shops, B&Bs, restaurants, guide stores and fly fishing shops are open for business. So I ate, drank and bought some nifty hanging candle holders for my sun porch. I am to please.
Some places, like The Birch Store in Keene Valley escaped unscathed while others did not. But Keene Valley favorites like the Great Range, Ausable Inn and Noonmark Diner are all open and ready for customers. The Tip-A-Canoe in Keene is gearing up for a big Labor Day weekend and the Cedar Run Bakery's liquor store will be more than happy to give customers something to celebrate. The open flags are there beckoning visitors and neighbors to stay for awhile.
Santa's Workshop in Wilmington is sprucing itself up after the effects from Tropical Storm Irene and will reopen its special brand of magic to children of all ages on Saturday. Most of the park is open but the Candy Cane Express is not available at this time but check the website for updates and specials. Santa is available from 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from now until Columbus Day.
You may have heard about High Peak mountain closures. If you are trying to bag some High Peaks (46ers) than use Irene as a reason to cross Whiteface Mountain, 4,867', or the Seward Range (Emmons, 4,040 ft, Donaldson, 4,140 ft, Seward, 4,361 ft) off the list. If you are racking up your mountains, there are still High Peaks to climb. Otherwise there are plenty of wonderful nature trails and smaller mountains to conquer.
Of course if you don't want to climb Whiteface Mountain then drive up it. The Whiteface Memorial Highway is open and the nature trail on top is one way to experience the mountaintop. Another would be to take a gondola ride or join Downhill Mike for a mountain bike clinic along those Whiteface trails. Try Museums for a fun activity in Lake Placid or just shop along Mirror Lake and stop for a quick bite to eat.
On my High Peaks exploration I witnessed communities pulling together to help their neighbors, shop owners next to first-time visitors next to passer-bys (like my family) lending a hand where needed. My heart goes out to all those people that have suffered the ill-effects of this storm. I am one of the fortunate ones. What we need to remember is that Irene wasn't Katrina and the Adirondack communtities are rebuidling as quickly as possible. There is more than one way to get to the Adirondacks and with any drastic event we need to adapt and explore. I certainly did when a few detours took me to places that I had never been before. We eventually circled back around and ended on Route 73 overlooking the Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumps.
All photos and content © Diane Chase, this post is an excerpt from Diane's guidebook Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes & High Peaks: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities (with GPS Coordinates), covering the towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene/Keene Valley, Jay/Upper Jay and Wilmington. Diane's next guidebook of Adirondack Family Activities™ in this four-book series will cover the Adirondack Coast from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga.