Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Seeing the park on two wheels: Biking to Plattsburgh from Saranac Lake

I biked from Saranac Lake to Burlington, Vermont, on the first day of fall. (Well, I meant to end up in Burlington, but a wrong turn added some miles and hills and left me on some suburban road east of the city in Williston.)

My route through the Adirondacks was State Route 3 to the Lake Champlain Ferry at Plattsburgh, and it took me through much of the Saranac River Valley, with colorful fall views of a river whose health and fish our magazine will profile in-depth in our next issue. I shot some video along the way.

YouTube video

Riding along a highway’s shoulder like that, one can’t help but note where the paved shoulders are comfortably spacious (thank you, Vermontville!), and where the going feels less secure, such as along the truck and school bus zone south of Bloomingdale, and in a few Clinton County stretches. That being the case, I kept thinking not just about the safely separated rail trail that New York is planning between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, but about how many other outdated rail lines in the park might add to a cycling network. I remembered a story that correspondent Stephen Leon wrote for the Explorer examining some possible steps in that direction, and I wondered if there might be other possible routes to the north and west, where I could cruise to and through the St. Lawrence Valley on family visits to the Thousand Islands.

When I returned to work in Saranac Lake (I didn’t have to pedal up the 1,447 feet in elevation I had descended to Champlain — my wife had a car waiting in Vermont!), I was reminded that I had a recreational story incorporating one abandoned rail line north of Tupper, to Spring Pond Bog. It’s not paved, and not currently envisioned as a thoroughfare, but it’s another option for spinning your wheels away from traffic. You can find the link to that story here.

Photo by Brandon Loomis

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Brandon’s weekly “Explore More” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

Related Stories

Brandon Loomis is a former Adirondack Explorer editor.

2 Responses

  1. Rick Schmidt says:

    Thanks for sharing, Brandon! If I lived near there I’d join you. Spent much time camping at Long Lake, Lake Eaton and Raquette Lake in the late 50’s and 60’s. 🙂

  2. Steve B. says:

    Paved shoulders are key to safe road cycling I find. Unfortunately, some municipalities cut corners when re-paving a road surface and only pave to the white line, leaving the existing shoulder without new asphalt, forcing a cyclist to make a choice of old pavement or new and in the lane of traffic. Over a few years, the shoulders look like a model for the Grand Canyon, multiple paved layers, treacherous to ride on.