The Adirondack Park in New York State is our newest favorite place. Why? Maybe because of its fragrant and thickly wooded forests of spruce, maple, beech, and birch.
Maybe because of its sparkling lakes, winding rivers, and rocky streams.
Maybe because of its charming lakefront towns such as Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.
Or maybe because the region hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980 and the sounds of supreme, almost mythological, athletic greatness still can be heard if you listen closely. “Do you believe in miracles?” We sure do.
The Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA is our newest favorite campground. Why? Maybe because we saw deer running through the campground during the Friday night hayride.
Maybe because you can hike from your campsite down to the rushing waters of the Ausable River.
Maybe because of the pancakes and hot coffee served up every morning in the warm and cozy lodge.
Or maybe because this KOA serves as the perfect base-camp for exploring a magnificent region of our magnificent country.
The Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA is a short, river and tree-lined drive into downtown Lake Placid, where we sampled some great food and culture, and more importantly where we started to learn about the region’s incredible Olympic history. We highly recommend purchasing the Olympic Sites Passport which is a tremendous bargain at $35 and gives you access to the Olympic Museum, the Sports Complex, the Jumping Complex, the Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway, and more.
We headed out early one morning for the drive on the Memorial Highway up to the castle at the top of Whiteface Mountain. There were numerous scenic overlooks on the way up and we stopped at each one to take in the sweeping views of the mountains.
The view of Lake Placid from the top, looking down on the clouds, was nothing short of stunning.
There was ice on the sides of the mountain that morning and it was windy and cold. The boys finagled three cups of hot chocolate from the cafeteria in the castle. We sampled the coffee, of course.
Later that morning we headed over to the Olympic Jumping Complex. We all loved taking the ski lift and the elevator up to the jump tower and looking out at the mountains around us and down at the jump below us. If you are not in awe of our Olympic athletes, you should be. Standing at the top of the jump tower brought their extreme skill and bravery into sharp focus for all of us. For Theo and Max it was the highlight of the trip.
The Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA is surrounded on all sides by endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. If you love fly fishing, then this is the place. If you love kayaking or canoeing, then this is the place. If you love skiing or snowmobiling, then this is the place. If you love hiking–and our family loves hiking–then this is the place.
We decided to tackle nearby Mount Jo on our last full day, and it was wonderful. Our AMC Guidebook called it an easy hike, but clearly the author didn’t do it with children. Stephanie had Wesley on her back, which made the trail quite a challenge. But Max and Theo were in good spirits and practically raced up the mountain. They love a hike with lots of rocks and water…this one didn’t disappoint.
The “Short Trail” up and the “Long Trail” down were both lovely–like something out of a book of poetry by Wordsworth or Coleridge. The summit view of Heart Lake surrounded by increasingly magnificent fall foliage was worth every single step.
After a brief snack the boys got on their hands and knees and howled like wolves as the sun began to set. It was getting late. We needed to double-time it down the mountain, and we did.
We come home exhausted that night–but deeply satisfied. Our time at the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA was coming to an end. But our newfound love for the history, culture, and geography of the Adirondack Park was just beginning.