Almanack Contributor Diane Chase

Diane Chase

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Hike Mount Defiance in Ticonderoga

My family spends just as much time exploring the rest of the Adirondack Park as we do our own neighborhood. Recently we were fortunate enough to be in the Ticonderoga area and looking for a quick and easy hike. The one-mile paved road to the summit of Mount Defiance did the trick.

The land surrounding Mount Defiance is owned by Fort Ticonderoga Association but remains open to the public. This trail is open to cars in the summer with an accessible pavilion at the summit. This one mile trail has an elevation of 853’ with so many boulders and views of Lake Champlain along the road, I wasn’t sure if we would bother getting to the summit. About ¾ mile up we come to the first major overlook and set of cannons.

We are not historians but are fortunate to meet an amateur local historian while walking. He shares with us that Mount Defiance was know as Rattlesnake Hill to the French. The Americans thought Mount Defiance was too steep to fortify but 400 British soldiers cut a road and dragged cannons up the hill in 24 hours causing the Americans to abandon Fort Ticonderoga. We question why a few cannons would cause an army to leave a stone fort. Our unofficial guide tells we shall see when we get to the summit.

We walk the next ¼ mile and arrive at the summit. There are two more cannons as well as a flagpole and pavilion. The view is incredible facing Lake Champlain. One can see why the Americans gave up their control of the fort with such an unobstructed view from the top. The Americans would have gone to sleep feeling secure in their position only to rise in the morning to cannons pointing at them. There is a clear sighting of Fort Ticonderoga to the northeast on the shore of Lake Champlain and Mount Independence in Vermont to the southeast and a major portion of both shorelines of the southern section of Lake Champlain.

The only mild disappointment was the power hub that was just below the summit. Another passerby tells us that it is a work in progress, like so many other things.

To get to Mount Defiance from the center of Ticonderoga on Montcalm St. turn right onto Champlain Ave. Then bear left onto The Portage Road and take the second left onto Defiance Road. The trailhead is located 0.03 mile at this dead end. Parking is to the right, next to the gate. The gate is closed during the winter but people access the trail year-round.

photo of Fort Ticonderoga from the summit of Mount Defiance used with permission of Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Time

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series. The first book, Adirondack Family Time Lake Placid and the High Peaks: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities (with GPS coordinates) is in stores now. Her second Adirondack Family Activities book will cover the area from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Four Free Outdoor Events

Sometimes when the weather starts to fluctuate it is easier for someone else to plan the outdoor activities. A lot of times, attending these Adirondack Family events introduce us to a new area, new favorite trail or friend. This weekend is a typical Adirondack weekend where the choices are numerous. Unfortunately we can’t be everywhere at once. There are special family events happening in all corners and beyond the Adirondack Park. Here are four events that are free to attend.

The Lake George Land Conservancy is hosting its Winter Warm Up on March 10 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Lake George Recreation Center with a variety of activities from live raptor presentations to broomball matches. Up Yonda Farm will offer interpretive snowshoe walks. If you always wanted to try snowshoeing, this is your chance. The snowshoes are available to use for free as well. There will be nature crafts to make and storytelling by the bonfire. Hot soup, bread and s’mores will top it off. Also the Lake George Recreation Center has a sledding hill and cross-country trails. The LGRC’s Berry Pond Preserve can be accessed from the Rec Center if people want to venture out on their own.

Dewey Mountain Ski Center in Saranac Lake is hosting its annual Dewey Day with Adirondack Lake & Trail Outfitters on March 10 (9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The facility will be free and open to the public. If your 6 to 13 year-old ever wanted to try biathlon, the Adirondack Paintball Biathlon is also on the roster. Other games include a children’s snowshoe scavenger hunt, icicle obstacle course and ski speed trap. Bring a team for the boxer short triathlon relay where teams will ski, snowshoe and sled.

In Newcomb the full moon will be celebrated at The Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) with a chili ski/snowshoe party on March 10th. The AIC’s trails usually close at dusk so these full moon parties are special indeed. The $5 fee covers the cost of the chili, hot chocolate and marshmallows. The trails at the AIC are always free and open to the public. This event is going to run no matter the weather so gear up. The event starts with chili at 6:00 p.m. and then closes with fireside hot chocolate and marshmallows at 8:00 p.m.

With the temperatures fluctuating, Thurman is making maple and inviting the public for tours of its sugar bushes. March 10-11 is the first of three consecutive maple weekends in Thurman. The other Thurman Maple Weekend dates are March 17-18 and 24-25. Each weekend will start with a 9:00 a.m. pancake breakfast ($) at Valley Road Maple Farm, the rest of the weekend events run from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. with free demonstrations, tastings and walking tours showcasing tree tapping, evaporating and maple making. There will also be some free sampling. (Don’t worry if you miss the 9:00 a.m. breakfast call, t continues until 1:00 p.m.)

If you can stick around on March 10th, the 53rd annual Maple Party will start at 4:00p.m. ($) with live music, all-you-can-eat buffet and a tasty treat of Jackwax (maple sugar on snow). The Maple Sugar Party is not only a fun event but a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

I realize there are plenty of other things happening around the Adirondacks but these four events are just a sampling that can get families outside and doing things together. How you spend your time together is important, I hope I made it a bit easier for you.

Photo of family viewing maple energy-saving equipment at Toad Hill Maple Farm by Teresa Whalen

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Lake Placid and the High Peaks: Your Four-Seaosn Guide to Over 300 Activities. Her second Adirondack Family Time guide will be in stores this summer 2012.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Skiing McCauley Mountain

Even with the lack of winter snow we have plenty to do to keep our family active outside. We’ve managed to use our Microspikes and crampons so much on every winter hike that my children automatically grab a pair to explore the icy parts of our yard.

With the recent dumping of snow it is with great pleasure to exercise our downhill muscles and toss our Microspikes to the bottom of our bag. We’ve gone downhill skiing this winter but our outings were not met with the same enthusiasm that 16” of fresh snow can bring.

For a family mountain, Old Forge’s McCauley Mountain can’t be beat. With an elevation of 2,330’ McCauley has something to offer everyone in our family.

The terrain park is the first thing we see as we pull into the parking area but we quickly pass it to the lifts and make the most of the day. There is one double chairlift and one T-Bar that access all 20 trails and a Rope Tow for the Mighty Mite. The second T-Bar is at the terrain park area. My kids are well past the Mighty Mite but it is still sweet to see that special place right in the middle of the mountain for those beginner skiers.

There is also the spectacular view of the Fulton Chain of Lakes. The Fulton Chain of Lakes is a portion of a river system that extends to Lake Ontario and was first dammed in the late 1700s. According to the Fulton Chain of Lakes Association the present dam at Old Forge holds back 6.8 billion gallons of water. Lower Fulton Chain starts at Old Forge Pond and travels to First Lake, Second, Third, Fourth Lakes to the Towns of Eagle Bay and Inlet and ending sequentially with Eighth Lake.

If you still have time or energy after riding the lift, there are 20 km of XC ski trails that can be accessed right at the base of the main lodge. For the month of March you can access the trails for free.

With March coming in “like a lion” we are looking forward to making the most out of the rest of this Adirondack ski season. Don’t forget that every Friday is “Crazy” at McCauley with $12 lift tickets.

McCauley Mountain is located in the center of Old Forge. From Route 28 (Main Street) follow the signs to McCauley Mountain. The road is very well marked. McCauley Mountain is located at 30 McCauley Road in Old Forge.

photo of McCauley Mountain Ski Area used with permission of Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities in Lake Placid and the High Peaks. Her second Adirondack Family Time Four-Season guide for the Champlain Valley from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga will be in stores in summer 2012.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: A Ski To Great Camp Santanoni

A weekend open house to the New York State owned Camp Santanoni is a great reason to get us to strap on our cross-country skis and hit the backcountry for a family outing. The other reason is there is snow and plenty of it in Newcomb. We leave Saranac Lake and the sky is blue and clear. The conditions are more spring skiing than what we have come to expect at the end of February. It is a perfect day.

I make my family visit the stone gatehouse at the entrance to Camp Santanoni in Newcomb but no one wants to linger. They are impatient to hit the trail. It is a busy day due to the Adirondack Architectural Heritage Open House weekend. Normally the Great Camp buildings are closed but today, tours will be given so we get a property history, explore the buildings and a great easy ski.

After registering we take off. The trail in is actually the 4.7-mile carriage road leading past the original farm to the Great Camp. It was described to me as relatively flat but I found it to be more aptly defined as gently rolling. There are definite uphill climbs but everything still falls under the category of an easy beginner ski.

Since I’m the slowest skier in the family, my kids wait for me at various intersections and landmarks. I come to the farm at one mile and they are already playing around the stone dairy and over to the remains of the burned barn. (A couple passing by mourn the loss of the barn, which burned in 2004. They had not been back since and are shocked to not see it still standing.) We continue our ski and make it to the Great Camp in less than two hours.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) Executive Director Steven Engelhart starts flipping through old photographs documenting much of the history of this New York State owned Great Camp while my family enjoys lunch at one of the picnic tables provided on the connecting porches. We learn an abbreviated history of the Albany banker Robert Pruyn’s (Prīne) vision to be a gentleman farmer and his wife Anna’s quest for a rustic retreat, which combined to form Great Camp Santanoni in the 1890s.

My children are more interested in Pruyn’s interest in Japanese architecture based on his two-year stay in Japan as secretary to his father, an ambassador appointed under President Lincoln. During the talking points we gather it is believed that the Main Camp architecture of Santanoni was designed to resemble a bird in flight, with its Great Room and single roof forming the bird’s body and the connecting porches forming the wings.

My family leaves the tour when Engelhart mentioned hot chocolate is available at the nearby Artist’s Studio. I continue on the tour and it is easy to image a family being comfortable and enjoying the same outdoor activities we still do today.

There are no plans or need to make Great Camp Santanoni anything more than what it already is, a beautiful year-round destination to Newcomb Lake and a glimpse into a piece of Adirondack history.

Camp Santanoni is open year-round to non-motorized use. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2000. Since AARCH’s intervention in 1991 the boathouse has been completely renovated and the many connecting porches were replaced as well as other structural improvements. The trail is accessible in summer by horse and wagon as well used by hikers and mountain bikers.

The next opportunity to attend a Great Camp Santanoni Winter weekend will be March 17-18.

photo of Great Camp Santanoni used with permission of Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Time.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time Lake Placid and High Peaks: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 activities. Her second book will be in stores summer 2012 and cover the Champlain Valley from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: New Land Trust Chili Fest

With all 28 trails open on its 287 acres, the New Land Trust (NLT) in Saranac is ready for their 2nd annual Chili Fest and Pot Luck on Saturday, February 18th.

“Trail conditions are hard-packed and icy in spots,” says NLT Board Member Douglas Yu. “We do have a solid-base. Snowshoes would be perfect, especially if venturing off-trail. We consistently have plentiful snow. Our unique location at the foot of Lyon Mt makes this possible. Even we have been impacted by the general lack of snow this year.”

The Chili Fest and Potluck is termed as “super casual” where visitors come and share a noon meal and utilize the free trail system. There is an opportunity to compete in a chili cook-off and enjoy a bonfire that evening. Two dual-use trails, two information kiosks, a snowshoe-only trail, and a bridge on Nightrider are just some of the new improvements to enjoy. Yu encourages newcomers to use the upcoming Chili Fest as an introduction to the New Land Trust.

Yu admits to seeing wild turkey as well as and the usual chickadees, woodpeckers, and occasional Ruffed Grouse as well as tracks from hare and deer while skiing the trails.

Fundraising for this community-based project still continues for the Clubhouse roof but a newly donated woodstove and picnic area make the Clubhouse a cozy place to stop and relax.

“The New Land Trust is entirely supported by generous donations from our members, users, and friends. In addition, we are also grateful for the many hundreds of volunteer hours given for trail work and other infrastructure maintenance,” says Yu. “We appreciate any support we get, but visiting is always free.”

NLT has also found itself to be the recipient of various scouting projects. Most recently The Tree Trail Map was a Girl Scout project by Hannah Racette. The interpretive map starts at the Clubhouse building and identifies 14 different trees such as black cherry and quaking aspen and loops back to the Clubhouse. According to Yu the guide has proven to be a huge asset for school children having to complete Leaf Identification assignments. Visitors and naturalists will also find the Tree Trail Map beneficial.

The New Land Trust is currently a volunteer-run 501(c)3 organization that was founded in 1977 by SUNY Plattsburgh students as an experiment in cooperative land management. It is easy to stay within the property boundary. The New Land Trust borders Stillman Brook to the west, the railroad tracks to the northeast and 37 Road to the east.

If you need a chili recipe for the contest, here is a venison option by Adirondack Almanack contributor Annette Nielsen. Enjoy!

Photo: Skiing at New Land Trust, Saranac. Used with the permission of Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Time.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks: Your Four Season Guide to Over 300 Activities. Her second book on Family Activities is due out this summer 2012 for the Champlain Valley Region from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Ticonderoga Winter Fest

Festivals abound in the winter months while towns around the Adirondack Park try to break up the winter with fun activities and a snapshot into an Adirondack life. With a lack of consistent snow, festival organizers have to be flexible with planned activities.

Saranac Lake’s Winter Carnival will finish its 10 days of winter fun this weekend while Lake George continues to host weekend activities throughout the month of February. For the third year Ticonderoga will tackle the cold with fun runs, wagon rides and even a Sunday Pan Fish Tournament.

On Saturday, February 11 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. the Ti Recreational Fields will host this event snow or no snow with a focus on area happenings. Don’t forget to walk to the nearby covered bridge and view the nearby waterfalls on the La Chute River.

Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mathew Courtright says, “There will be plenty of great activities that don’t depend on snow like the Fun Run and broomball. This is the third year for this event and each year the Ticonderoga Winter Fest growing. Of course, we always hope for more snow but we are prepared for anything.”

According to Courtright local businesses continue to work together to present a glimpse of the winter recreational opportunities around Ticonderoga from snowshoeing and sledding to hiking and fishing. Saturday’s one- mile Fun Run’s entry is either $2 or a canned good, both benefiting the local food pantry.

Perhaps ice fishing is more to your liking. On Sunday, February 12 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. the Ticonderoga “Best Fourth in the North” Committee is holding a Pan Fish Tournament. The winners in two categories will receive a 40% pay back split with a portion of the profits benefiting outdoor youth activities. Children under 14 will be entered to win a lifetime fishing license. The single or family (one adult and up to two siblings) each requires a $20 entrance fee.

If you are unfamiliar with the Ticonderoga area or know it solely as the location of Fort Ticonderoga, a festival such as this is the perfect opportunity to meet locals and find new favorite places to enjoy.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities for the Tri-Lakes (Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake) and High Peaks. Her next book of family activities will come out this summer 2012 for the Adirondack Champlain Coast (Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga).


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Pendragon Theatre on the Road

Pendragon Theatre’s production of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird is on the road throughout the Adirondack Park and beyond. The two-act play was adapted by Christopher Sergel and first performed in 1987 in England. Since that time the play has been performed in schools and theatres around the world to great acclaim.

Set in 1930 Alabama at the height of the Great Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird focuses on the intense class and racial tensions of the time as seen through the eyes of young Scout Finch. Narrated by the adult Scout, the coming of age story tackles such complex issues as interracial relationships, segregation and sterotypes. As Scout’s father Atticus, a lawyer, defends a black man accused of raping a poor white girl, the characters in the town expose their own bigotry. Throughout the story are themes of courage, innocence and the moral failures of society.

Pendragon Founder and Managing Director Bob Pettee, who also plays Atticus Finch, says, “The version we at Pendragon Theatre chose to do is the only authorized version of the book. Harper Lee talked to Christoper Segel directly. The version that we’ve chosen does not have the older character of Scout, like in the movie. We felt the (Segel) version told the story more directly.” Pettee says, “ To Kill A Mockingbird is a universal story, so simple, so direct. The Boo Radley character becomes so fictionalized, larger than life and then finally known to just be human.”

Pettee comments on the larger issues that are addressed in the play with “man’s ability to be inhuman.” Pendragon Theare recently had received a letter from a teacher thanking the cast for the school performance. The teacher had overheard two students from his English class comparing the injustices of To Kill A Mockingbird with the injustices of the class reading assignment The Lottery. The teacher felt that the unprompted discussion of two pieces of literature from his students was powerful.

“I think this play has opened up conversations where children have an access to this material based on the age of the actors in this piece. The three kids we have are just dynamite, are solid performers ranging from 6th to 8th grade. They are very accomplished and adapt to the other spaces and it is a real treat to have them involved.”

“It is challenging to take a play on the road but we have a lot of experience,” says Pettee. “From an actor’s point of view it is good to see how we will connect this piece with a new audience. The Pendragon (home) theatre is a more intimate theatre where a larger performance space presents differently and we (the actors) still have to connect and be genuine and real for the audience.”

Pendragon actor Donna Moschek brings the part of Miss Maudie to life and says, “This version of the play uses Maudie as the narrator, not an older Scout, which is interesting. I think it’s a good choice because Maudie represents the female role model that Scout most admires in the novel and certainly takes a moral stand. I loved Maudie in the novel and I love her in the play because she is an inescapably part of this small town, but she believes it is possible for change to happen.”

Moschek says, “I think this play and the novel are still relevant and will always be relevant as long as racism, oppression and prejudice still exist. It’s the idea that prejudice can be so quietly present and so accepted that no one even notices what it can do. No one questions. I think the play and the book teach us that looking closely at our beliefs and our actions could be what saves us from making a decision based on prejudice, or a stereotype we have in our minds. If we can be aware of it, we can move to change it in ourselves and in others.”

To Kill A Mockingbird can be seen at SUNY Potsdam, Potsdam (7:00 p.m.) on Friday, February 3; at SUNY Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh (7:00 p.m.) on Friday, February 10; at Pendragon’s Home Theatre, Saranac Lake (7:30 p.m.) on Saturday, February 11; at The View, Old Forge (7:00 p.m.) on Thursday March 1; Main Street Landing PAC, Burlington VT (7:30 p.m.) on Friday, March 9; and the Tannery Pond Community Center, North Creek (7:30 p.m.) on March 16.

Next up for Pendragon Theatre will be a limited run of “Almost Maine” as part of a cooperative effort with the Lake Placid Center for the Arts as well as the soon to be announced summer season.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities for the Tri-Lakes (Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake) and High Peaks. Her next book of family activities will come out this summer 2012.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Paul Smith’s Chili Snowshoe Fest

The Chili Ski and Snowshoe Fest will take place on January 28 no matter the weather conditions, according to Paul Smith’s College VIC Interpretive Naturalist Educator Sarah Keyes.

The event will be jammed with family-friendly activities such as a modified “poker run” where kids will search on skis for animal cards and an obstacle course. There are also kids’ freestyle ski races, a bird walk and a snowshoe stampede.

“Paul Smith’s College Culinary and Bakery students will create three different types of chili as well as bread and some baked goods, “says Keyes. “All the outside snow-related activities will be covered with the purchase of a VIC day pass but there are some events happening at the VIC which are free.”

According to Keyes Mark Manske of Adirondack Raptor Center will give live birding demonstrations where people can get up close and personal to owls and hawks. Children can also always access the inside touch table. Visitors can stop by to view the ongoing art show “Winter Wonders” and the traveling exhibit “Ways of the Woods.”

“We encourage people to stop by and see all the different activities we have happening,” says Keyes. “There will be music that afternoon as well the Adult 5K ski races.”

Keyes says, “We are always open to suggestions from people regarding our programming. We are looking into do an environment book club and after the great success of our “no school” program, parents can look forward to the next session over President’s weekend vacation.”

Keyes mentions that during the Christmas holiday she prepared weekday activities for school-aged children to get kids outside and entertained. The President’s weekend format will be similar and open to locals as well as visitors during holiday weekends. Keyes recommends people calling her at 327-6241 for more information.

The Paul Smith’s College VIC Chili Ski and Snowshoe Fest will start at 10:00 a.m. with a bird walk with Adirondack Birding Center Director Brian McAllister and conclude with a backcountry ski lecture with Brian McDonnell of McDonnell’s Adirondack Challenges though the live music with the Bog Stompers and access to the VIC trails will continue until 4:00 p.m.

photo used with permission of Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Time


Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 activities. Her second book of family activities will cover the Adirondack Lake Champlain coast and in stores summer 2012.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Adirondack Family Time: Aldo Leopold Film Screening

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
~ Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (1949)

This Saturday the Adirondack Interpretive Center will be hosting the only Adirondack screening of the documentary Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and Land Ethic For Our Time. Leopold holds the honor of shaping and influencing the modern environmental conservation movement. Leopold is credited with inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.

The title Green Fire refers to a passage in Leopold’s book, A Sand County Almanac when he is a young forest ranger and self-described as “full of trigger-itch.” Leopold writes how he shoots a wolf believing that fewer predators would mean a hunters’ paradise. He comes upon the injured wolf and watches “a fierce green fire dying in her eyes,” an event that would change his view of the necessity of predators in the landscape.

According to Adirondack Interpretive Center Program Manager Rebecca Oyer the one-day event will be packed with activities from bench building to a panel discussion. Oyer wants people to know that they can come for one event or all of the day’s activities.

“Starting at 9:00 a.m. those that register will be able to make a Leopold bench. The cost of the materials ($30) is the only fee for this whole day. The screening, readings and panel discussions are all free,” says Oyer. “ There will be a break around 10:30 a.m. with refreshments and panelists will read passages from The Sand County Almanac. After a lunch break we will show the movie Green Fire at 1:30 p.m.”

After the film the four panelists will discuss how each apply and implement Leopold’s legacy in their own work. Panelists: Dave Gibson, partner in the not-for-profit Adirondack Wild, Lisa Eddy, a Michigan High School teacher developing curriculum based on Leopold’s philosophies, Peter Brinkley, Adirondack Wild Senior partner and Marianne Patinelli-Dubay, environmental philosopher. Both Gibson and Patinelli-Dubay are regular Almanack contributors.

A complete schedule can be found here. Registration is required by calling 518-582-2000 for the January 21, Saturday, event. Keep in mind that the trails at the Newcomb Adirondack Interpretive Center are open for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

If you are bringing your own young people, know your family’s limitations. My children are excited to make the Leopold bench and see the rest of the hour-long film Green Fire. If they wish to listen to the readings and panel discussions, I am all for it. I will have snowshoes packed as a backup plan. We can discuss Leopold’s Legacy while enjoying the trails at the Adirondack Interpretive Center.

Illustration provided.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 activities. Her second book of family activities will cover the Adirondack Lake Champlain coast and in stores summer 2012.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Long Lake Winter Carnival

With the snow finally here what better way to celebrate this cold season than Long Lake’s annual Winter Carnival. According to the Moonlighters Snowmobile Club President Jim Piraino, the Long Lake Winter Carnival is in its eighth year.

Piraino remembers the start of the Long Lake Winter Carnival as it began with the demise of the 100-Miler Snowmobile Race. He and other members of the Moonlighters Snowmobile Club looked for a way to continue to celebrate the winter season.

“The ice became unsafe on Long Lake with the weather changing over the years,” says Piraino. “We wanted to continue to have a fun event but needed to adapt for those changes. The Town of Long Lake became a co-sponsor with the Moonlighters and added the cardboard box races. All the events, food and activities are free with some events even having a cash prize and are sponsored by the Moonlighters, Town of Long Lake or the Fire Department. We want people to come and focus on this fun town event.”

Annually the one-day event takes place the Saturday of Martin Luther King weekend with a playlist full of activities. The event will kick off with a snowmobile parade to the Mt Sabattis Geiger Arena. With the coronation of the festival’s King and Queen, the fun begins. Don’t worry if it’s cold, according to Piraino the bonfire starts at 10:00 a.m. and will be contained near the Mt Sabattis sledding hill and behind Geiger Arena. People can warm up near by while they watch the cardboard box races or while waiting their turn for any of the other events.

“All the events are located at the old ski hill,” says Piraino. “We want parents to be able to have fun while able to watch their kids. The cardboard sled races are great. You can only use cardboard and duct tape. There are different age groups and prizes for each category.”

Not only is Piraino president of the Moonlighters Snowmobile Club as owner of the Long Lake Diner he sponsors one of the events.

“The Long Lake Diner sponsors the ½ court basketball shot with a cash prize. Of course you have to make the shot with a snowball,” he laughs. “There are many other games such as a relay where we divide up the participants into teams and people have to put on fireman pants, jacket and hat and fill up a bucket with snow.”

Other events include an “adult golf shot” from the top of the sledding hill, ladies frying pan toss, kids’ balloon chase, the goalie’s day off puck shot (children shoot at half rink while adult shoot the whole ice rink distance) and a broomball tournament. Of course the sledding hill and ice rink will remain open throughout the day, when not being used for specific activities. After the broomball tournament, the Long Lake Winter Carnival will culminate with fireworks overhead. Click here for the complete schedule and times.

Piraino says, ”This is the third year we have the free transportation bus (5:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.). Anyone can call (518-354-1510) and picked up or wave the bus down. It will be driven around the town, going from restaurant to bar right from your hotel or home. You can have dinner at one place and drinks at another. It has worked out great. People can relax and have fun and not worry about driving.”

With winter finally here this looks like a great way to celebrate the next months of winter!

Photo courtesy the Town of Long Lake.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 activities. Her second book of family activities will cover the Adirondack Lake Champlain coast and in stores summer 2012.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: The Au Sable Bridge

Located near Au Sable Chasm, the Au Sable Bridge in itself is a child’s playground. After coming out of the woods from a hike we passed through Clinton County via Route 9 when both my children yelled for us to stop the car.

The water rushing over the falls is breathtaking so we pull over at the nearby parking area and go for a stroll. I watch my kids run across with snowball in hand to toss over the side.

I am leery of heights, to put it mildly. I can climb mountains and sit on the edge of a cliff but my brain is never at ease on a manmade object of any significant height.

This highway bridge that spans the gorge dates from 1934 so my children are quick to reassure me of their safety. (What about me?)

We find out this isn’t the first bridge near this spot. The earliest bridge was built in 1793 of logs and located about one mile downstream. Various other wooded bridges were built but consumed by flooding or rotted from the mist from the falls. In 1890 a one-lane iron bridge was erected and can still be seen upstream from the 1934 stone bridge.

The current bridge’s most distinguishing features are the 212’ steel arch span and the concrete arches faced in local granite and sandstone. My children’s eyes start glazing over with the history lesson. They always amaze me with their ability to retain information while acting disinterested only to parrot back information later to their friends.

For now they just want to watch snowballs drop and disappear into the rushing waters of the Au Sable River. According to the Au Sable Chasm website the Route 9 bridge was the main route that connected the northern communities such as Plattsburgh and Montreal to the southern sectors like Albany and New York City before in the Interstate was built in the mid 60s. It is said that remnants of the original railroad bed foundation is underneath the existing bridge but I wasn’t about to peer over the side to look for it.

Photo: Au Sable Bridge (Courtesy Diane Chase)

 Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 activities. Her second book of family activities will cover the Adirondack Lake Champlain coast and in stores summer 2012.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Schroon Lake New Year’s Eve

For the first year Schroon Lake will be offering its own version of First Night full of family-friendly activities.

According to the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce the Schroon Lake First Night celebration started in 2003 as part of the Schroon Lake bicentennial. The event was then held again in 2004 to end the bicentennial year. It was resurrected in 2011 as an opportunity to provide a non-alcoholic event for families.

Committee Co-Chair Sharon Piper says, “This is a nice way for families to celebrate together. There will be fun crafts for kids. They can make a New Year’s hat when they aren’t listening to the band. We really tried to provide activities to keep everyone engaged. Our event will also wrap up after the fireworks so families can get home safely.”

Sylvia Fletcher and the Magic Trunk will host three performances, 5:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. There will be ongoing craft stations, face painting and refreshments.

The sock hop will be held at the Schroon Lake Central School gym and truly no shoes are allowed so wear your cutest socks and dance to the classic rock band, “Loose Connections.”

To join in the community spirit there will be a stroll from the school to the park at the conclusion of the sock hop. (It is only a few blocks walk to the park so dress appropriately for the weather.) At the Schroon Lake Town Park enjoy a luminary display, hot chocolate and a bonfire at 8:30 p.m. Fireworks will commence over the lake at 9:15 p.m.

Piper says, “We encourage everyone to come, people from out of town to the second home owner. We hope to provide an opportunity for families to enjoy some fun together.”

The cost for the event is $5.00 for adults, $2.00 for children (4-18) with children under four admitted free. There is a family rate available. The goal for the admission is to help offset the cost of the event while still keeping it affordable for families.

The Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce hopes that this event will become an annual tradition for all. This year’s event will be hosted at two venues, the Schroon Lake Central School and the Town Park. The committee is working on light refreshments available for purchase during the event while all other activities are included with admission.

There will be a program to let participants know the schedule for all events. (Look for special offers and coupons from local businesses in the program.)

To the north will be an official First Night Celebration in Saranac Lake with a variety of activities geared toward families of all ages. To the south will be Saratoga Springs’ First Night. There will also be New Year’s Eve fireworks over Lake George at midnight.

Happy New Year! Be safe!

Photo: Fireworks (Courtesy Diane Chase)

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 activities. Her second book of family activities will cover the Adirondack Lake Champlain coast and in stores summer 2012.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Adirondack Family Time: Movie Houses For The Holidays

This is a busy week for all. Schools will be closed for the holidays and some parents are wondering what to do with their kids.

Tonight is also the beginning of the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah) and Christmas is right around the corner. We seem to be so busy cooking and preparing for the holidays that it takes a bit of reminding that the goal is to spend time with each other.

If you can’t get outside and enjoy the numerous Adirondack adventures perhaps stage a family bowling tournament or enjoy indoor ice-skating.

One thing we like to do, besides being outside skiing, skating or sledding in the winter is to enjoy a small intimate theatre experience. Not just live theatre, though that plays (no pun intended) a prominent role in our lives. No, it’s escaping for a few hours and going to “The Movies.”

At one time many towns in the Adirondacks had their own year-round movie houses. Sadly most have made way for the multiplex. Some theatres have retained their original architecture so the movie is not always the only thing to observe.

Take a moment and enjoy a small slice of history. Each theatre offers a unique experience that a larger cineplex may not. These theatres are independently owned and operated and can offer a less expensive ticket price. After a holiday spending spree, saving money is a pretty good gift, too.

Here are five year-round Adirondack movie theatres to get in a few laughs, enjoy a snack and leave any aspect of holiday stress behind.

Hollywood Theatre 14232 NYS Route 9N, Au Sable Forks, NY 12912
(518) 647-5953 (in the winters closed Monday and Tuesdays)

*Lake Placid Palace Theatre 2430 Main St, Lake Placid, NY 12946
(518) 523-9271
 *open every day including Christmas and New Year’s with a 2:15 p.m. matinee through the Christmas-New Year’s week.

Lake Theatre Main Street, Indian Lake, NY 12842
(518) 648-5950

The Strand Theatre in Old Forge 3093 Rte 28 Main St., Old Forge, NY 13420
(315) 369-6703

Tupper Lake State Theatre, 100 Park St, Tupper Lake, NY 12986
(518) 359-3593

Enjoy your time together!

Photo: Palace Theatre (Courtesy Diane Chase).

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 activities. Her second book of family activities will cover the Adirondack Lake Champlain coast and in stores summer 2012.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Lake Placid Peninsula Nature Trails

Though there are many places to enjoy throughout the Adirondack Park, the small village trails are often the sweetest treat for families with young kids or anyone just wanting to stretch his/her legs.

The Brewster Peninsula Nature Trails in Lake Placid are situated on a parcel of 133 acres of land purchased by New York State in 1960.

According to the self-guiding pamphlet produced by The Garden Club of Lake Placid (with help from the Adirondack Ski Touring Council and the NYS DEC, the Brewster Peninsula trails were heavily logged in the 1940s with the exclusion of a small 200′ strip of untouched lakeshore.

Our main purpose for being in Lake Placid is to shop but with all the holiday craziness we need to get outside so we are taking the snow pants, boots and coats for a stroll around one of the Brewster Peninsula trails. The ground is hard and not much snow but we just need some fresh air. When we arrive we diplomatically choose one of the three trails; Lakeshore (0.8 mile loop, Boundary (0.9 mile loop) or Ridge (rock, paper, scissors). We go the Ridge Trail.

The Ridge Trail is the longest trail at a 1.3-mile loop. We pass the entrance gate and watch for signs to the right. The main path is the old logging road. It is a wide, relatively smooth dirt road. The legs of my daughter’s snow pants are rubbing together reminiscent of corduroys squeaking. She informs me that they are talking to her. I ask what they say and she replies, “They want me to run.” We oblige.

My son sword-fights with tree branches that have the audacity to be in his path. The trees retaliate by dumping melting snow down his back. The path is a gentle incline and the new boots seem to up to the task.

One short, more popular path, is the Boundary Trail. This 0.9 loop trail intersects with the popular Jackrabbit Trail and leads directly to the west side of Lake Placid lake. This trail also leads to the Shore Owner’s Association (SOA) dam. Along that path are wooded footpaths, roots to explore and a beautiful view of the lake.

Look for interpretive signs along the way (designed by Adirondack artist, Sheri Amsel) as well as benches in case members of your party need a moment of solitude. Enjoy these trails all year long on foot, snowshoes or cross-country skies.

From Saranac Ave (Route 86) in Lake Placid, turn onto Peninsula Way, between Howard Johnson’s Restaurant and the Comfort Inn and drive about 0.4 mile. Follow signs for Brewster Peninsula. Parking and entrance gate is to the left. Trail maps are available at the trailhead.

Photo from the dam at Brewster Peninsula used with permission of Diane Chase, the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and 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 next guidebook of Adirondack Family Activities in this four-book series will cover the Adirondack Coast from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Chili Full Moon Ski, Snowshoe

Though chances of snow in the Adirondacks for this weekend looks to be slim, the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb will still hold its first Full Moon Ski/Snowshoe and Chili party on Saturday, December 10 starting at 6:00 p.m.

According to Program Director Rebecca Oyer the focus of the event is to get people outside so if the snow isn’t available for this first event, the trails will be open to families and guests for a moonlit hike.

“This is the first year that the Adirondack Interpretive Center will be open for nighttime cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, says Oyer. “People can come and either bring their own skis and snowshoes or borrow the snowshoes we have here. We also have child sized snowshoes available.”

Oyer encourages families to try snowshoeing around the Newcomb facility when the snow does come because it is a free opportunity to try the sport. She wants to remind people that snowshoes or skis are required on the Newcomb trails when there is snow.

“This first event will most likely be a hike. Each full moon event will start with a chili and cornbread meal and a quick orientation. If anyone has any questions about the menu, just give me a call. People are going to have to sign in once they get here for safety reasons. We want to make sure we know who is out on the trail,” insists Oyer. “The focus is being outside and having fun.”

Oyer says after the quick orientation participants are encouraged to go out and enjoy the 3.6 miles of trails on their own. Then people will return by 7:00 p.m. for fireside hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows. There will be full moon events each month through March. The cost for each event is $5.00 per person, which covers the cost of the food.

The other full moon Chili and Full Moon Ski/Snowshoe dates are January 7, February 4 and March 10 so mark your calendar. Rebecca Oyer at the Adirondack Interpretive Center can be reached at 518-582-2000.

Photo courtesy Diane Chase.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks (Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities) available online or bookstores/museums. Diane’s second guidebook, Adirondack Family Time from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, in the four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities will be stores summer 2012.


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