Lake Placid is famous for its 1932 and 1980 Olympic legacy, but the mountain biking scene is giving people yet another reason to visit this small town. Here are five reasons why you need to ride mountain bikes in this historic town.
1. So many trails
Heaven Hill and Henry's Woods are both beginner-friendly and perfect starting places if you have never tried the sport. Even as an experienced rider, I personally ride in both of these places often because they are so scenic. My personal favorite is the Old Orchard Loop at Heaven Hill because it offers jaw-dropping views of the Great Range. If you are looking for a bigger trail system and a place to rent bikes, check out the trails at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. With more than 30 km of cross-country trails, you will find all the variety you need. From open meadows to single-track in secluded forests, there is plenty to challenge you at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. It's a great place for families too!
For more advanced riding, head to Craig Wood and the Lussi & Logger Trails; most intermediate riders can still find their flow in these areas. If you like old-school routes with more technical terrain, try the Lussi & Logger Trails. The crowd favorites are the boardwalk features on the "Lumberyard Trail" and "Twisted Sister." The Lussi & Logger Trails are located behind the Lake Placid Club golf course and provide the highest concentration of single track in the area with 34 trails. These trails are located on private land thanks to the generosity of the landowner. Please stay on marked trails and DO NOT ride on or through the golf course.
If flowy trails with jump lines are more your cup of tea, then head to Craig Wood. This network is made up of 4.5 miles of trails and is located next to the Craig Wood Golf Course. Many believe the trails at Craig Wood to be the highest quality in the area, but you will have to ride all the trails to decide for yourself!
2. A perfect place to stay
Lake Placid's lodging is as varied as its mountain bike trails. From luxurious resorts and cozy bed and breakfasts to rustic cabins, Lake Placid has a variety of options to choose from for your basecamp. The best part, you will be minutes away from 5 trail systems. How's that for convenience!
3. Good eats
There are plenty of restaurants right in town to satisfy any appetite, including four breweries that you can visit to quench your thirst after your ride in Lake Placid, all of which offer something different. Big Slide Brewery is closest to the trails at Craig Wood and is right next to the 100m and 128m ski jumps it is named after. Big Slide Brewery is known for its pizza, but if you want something different, they have a diverse menu to make even the pickiest eater happy. Lake Placid Brewery sits right across from Mirror Lake and is closest to the Lussi and Logger trails. This place is definitely a step up from your typical pub food, but you can still find all of the usual favorites like burgers and fish and chips. The final two breweries are located right on Main Street. The new kid around the block is the Boat Tasting Room, which features a bar shaped like an actual wooden boat. Lastly, there is the Great Adirondack Brewing Company. This place has an ever-changing lineup of beers and is the classiest option of the four breweries. Here you can enjoy excellent steak and seafood and is a great option if you want to treat yourself.
4. Location, location, location
Not only are the mountain biking trails close to town, but so many other attractions are just a short drive away. No trip to Lake Placid would be complete without checking out the Olympic sites. These venues have hosted two Olympic Games and continue to serve as a training ground for many athletes. If you are lucky, you might even spot them on a training day. Beyond the Olympic venues, Lake Placid is surrounded by the natural beauty of the mountains and its pristine lakes. Here are some activities you don't want to miss during your visit.
1) Skyride at the Olympic Jumping Complex
2) Ride the longest coaster in North America at Mt. Van Hoevenberg
3) Go swimming at the Mirror Lake Public Beach
4) Rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard and explore Mirror Lake
5) Cruise on a boat ride around Lake Placid Lake
5. Beyond Lake Placid, more to ride
Beyond Lake Placid, there is still so much riding left to explore. Extend your mountain biking experience to nearby Saranac Lake and Wilmington for even more trail options. Both of these towns are only 15 minutes away from Lake Placid, so you don't even need to change hotels if you don't want to. Whether you are looking for a day trip from Lake Placid or options to stay a little longer in the Adirondacks, look no further than Saranac Lake and Wilmington.
Saranac Lake is home to Dewey Mt. and Mount Pisgah, two ski areas that transform into wicked fun places to ride in the warmer months. Dewey Mt. has 5.5 miles of single-track through lush green forests and has trails for all skill levels. Mount Pisgah features a 5-mile network and is known for its machine-built flow trail called The Cure, which honors Saranac Lake's unique history as a center for the treatment of tuberculosis in the late 1800s.
Wilmington is considered to be the "mountain bike capital of the Adirondacks" and features a wide variety of riding at two trail networks: Hardy Road and the Flume. Hardy Road, also known as Beaver Brook, was the first mountain bike-specific trail system built in the Adirondack Park. With 12-miles of trail, Hardy Road is one of the largest trail systems in the area. It also boasts one of the longest continuous trails at 2.8 miles called "All In", which overlooks Whiteface Mountain and the Ausable Valley. A local tip is to park at the Wilmington Bike Park in downtown Wilmington and pedal over via the Noreens Trail and the Three Sisters Trail. The advantage of this is you will arrive at Hardy Road already warmed up.
The Flume Trails is the original network of trails that established Wilmington as the mountain biking capital of the Adirondacks. To add to its allure, the network also has the greatest mileage of any network in the area. The lower trails are smooth and have gentle ups and downs. For more of a challenge, take to the upper trails. As you gain elevation, the terrain becomes increasingly difficult. No matter what you choose, the Flume is bound to keep you entertained. Don't forget to cross the road to view the famous waterfall the network is named after.
A bonus place to ride is Poor Man's Downhill, a 3-mile trail that descends 1,200 vertical feet on an old snowmobile trail from the Whiteface Memorial Highway to the hamlet below. It was originally named for the cash-strapped riders who couldn't pay for chairlifts at Whiteface. Bikers regularly shuttle the trail from the parking area near the intersection of the Whiteface toll road and Gillespie drive and charge down at breakneck speeds to the finish at Up a Creek Restaurant. The town of Wilmington honors its legacy by offering dirt-cheap shuttle rides (usually $5/person/day) a couple of times during the summer.