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, May 29, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: NY State Museum Week

New York State is celebrating its museums, art centers, zoos, historic buildings, botanical gardens and other cultural organizations from May 31-June 6, 2012  with New York State Museum Week.

According to Goodsell Museum‘s Executive Director Gail Murray, they are hoping this opportunity will draw different people into the museum.

“We have new exhibits in,” says Murray.” We are dedicating the upstairs to places we call ‘Accidental Museums’ like The Strand Theater here in Old Forge. We made one area look like the theatre and we have some of their film memorabilia and camera collection on loan. Another example of local history and accidental museums are The Farm Restaurant and Teich’s Old Trading Post.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Adirondack Family Time: Carousel Grand Opening

On Saturday, May 26, will be the grand opening for the only year-round carousel in the Adirondack Park. The Adirondack Carousel has been a labor of love for many and according to President Marge Glowa it would not be possible without all the volunteers that have stepped up to dedicate time and money toward the completion of this project.

With 20 original paintings, 24 hand-carved Adirondack animals (18 working and six in reserve) and a handicap chariot in the shape of a mahogany Spencer, The Adirondack Carousel will finally open its doors. Adirondack carver Karen Loffler, who dreamed of a wooden carousel made of Adirondack indigenous animals, conceived the project and will also be at the event. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Adirondack Kids Art Exhibit

For the past twelve years, The Adirondack Kids father and son author team of Gary and Justin VanRiper have been bringing Adirondack stories into our homes, libraries and schools through their middle reader chapter books.  Opening this May 19th at The View in Old Forge is an art exhibit focusing on 40 pieces of original artwork from the pages of those familiar books.

“We are excited about this exhibit,” says Gary VanRiper. “The Adirondack Kids books have received a lot of attention. This time the focus is going to be on the wonderful artwork on the covers and within the pages of our books.”

According to VanRiper, illustrator Susan Loeffler has illustrated all 12 of the book covers, posters and even a coloring book with the interior drawings completed by Carol VanRiper, making these books truly a family affair. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Adirondack Family Time: Wild Center Community Day

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 13th, and The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is giving everyone the chance to celebrate the women in their lives whether great-grandmother, grandmother or mother. This event is not just geared toward children, but to embrace the child within. Join in the festivities and enjoy a free opportunity to explore Mother Nature inside and outside the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks (The Wild Center).

According to Director of Programs Jennifer Kretser, the annual spring event is an opportunity to showcase The Wild Center’s exhibits as a place for all ages to explore. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adirondack Family Time:
World’s Biggest Disc Golf Weekend

Disc GolfIn its 23rd year, this year’s World’s Biggest Disc Golf Weekend will be hosted in 15 countries and over 140 locations throughout the United States. This Saturday, May 5, the only Adirondack location registered for this annual event is Keeseville’s Ausable Chasm Campground. 

Recreational Manager Chuck Fries says, “We are offering free admission and free disc rentals all Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. We have a local league that will start earlier and later have a mixed doubles tournament. We hope people will come out and see what a fun sport this is.”

Fries confirms that the event is geared toward the novice in mind. From 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. league members and experienced players will be on site to show people how to play disc golf. Fries will even have league players and volunteers available to join novices on the course to demonstrate strategies. Though anyone can come, sign out a disc and play the Ausable Chasm course at any time throughout the day.

“This is a great family activity and lifelong sport,” says Fries. “It is low-impact. We can bring our young daughter and walk the courses while she enjoys nature. My wife and I used to mountain bike and have had to put that sport on hold for a bit. We can’t share that with our daughter quite yet. Disc golf is a great way to bring the whole family together and spend time outdoors. It is less frustration than regular golf to play right from the start.”

The late Ed Headrick is known as the father of the modern day Frisbee and of the game Disc Golf.  Headrick, of California, also invented the first disc golf basket and designed and installed the first course. While working at Wham-O, Headrick was credited with the first patent for modern day Frisbee. He helped develop the sport in the 70’s even establishing the first disk golf tournament in 1979.

Similar to traditional golf, disc golf has various weighted Frisbee-like discs that serve as driver, midrange and putter. According to Fries, anyone that has played mini-golf can tackle disc golf. Instead of a ball and club, it is a disc into a metal basket. He recommends for beginners to start with one disc and not worry about the various sized discs. For those a bit more adventurous, he suggests sticking around for the evening festivities that will consist of glow-in-the dark discs and lighted baskets.

“Beginners have a hard time throwing the driver. If they start with the mid-range or putter, it throws more like a traditional Frisbee,” says Fries. “One of the great features of the Ausable Chasm course is that it is heavily wooded and not so easy to lose a disc.”

The World’s Biggest Disc Golf Weekend is May 5 from 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. Call 518-834-9990 for more information.  There are grills and tables available for those wishing to bring a picnic.

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 guidebook for the Champlain Valley will be in stores this summer 2012.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Be Careful of Ticks

I recently spent my Sunday in the Emergency Room due to a classic “target” shaped bite that showed up on my ankle after an Earth Day weekend of clearing trails and picking up roadside garbage near Westport, N.Y.

Not only did I get to spend my leisure time with the ER staff but I, usually so diligent with tick searches, did everything wrong regarding my own health. So to save you a trip to the ER and a bothersome dose of antibiotics, here are some safety tips for tick prevention. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: The Reel Paddling Film Festival

The 7th annual Reel Paddling Film Festival (RPFF) will be making its way through the Adirondacks this spring and summer with showings in Lake Placid, Old Forge and Tupper Lake. The Reel Paddling Film Festival highlights the best paddling films for the year in ten categories: Instructional Paddling, Environmental Paddling, Kayak Fishing, Sea Kayaking, Stand-up Paddling, Short Paddling, Canoeing, Whitewater, Documentary Paddling, and Adventure Travel Paddling. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: The Adirondack Folk School

The weather in April can be a bit finicky, to say the least. Just as in any other season in the Adirondacks, there are inside options for entertaining ourselves.

The Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne has finalized its 2012 schedule of over 200 classes focusing on the traditional folk arts and crafts of the Adirondacks.

Executive Assistant Mary Stevens says,” We do have some nice classes going on this month with the majority of our programs ranging from a few hours to a few days. Currently we have courses such as ‘How to carve an Adirondack Loon,’ with Walt LeClair, and ‘Making Gourd Art’ as well as the popular ‘Stick and a Hike.’”

Stevens says that planning ahead is essential, as classes do tend to fill up. Classes at the Adirondack Folk School are geared toward individual attention, so attendance is intentionally kept low.

We are a small, non-profit,” says Stevens. “We are always open to having people interested in volunteering to come and fill out a registration form. Up until this year, 2012, the Adirondack Folk School was completely run by volunteers. We have 25 new instructors at the school this year for a total of 75. We are very excited to have them and all that they are offering.”

Stevens says, “Our whole goal is to promote the arts, crafts and culture of the Adirondacks. We aren’t looking for students with previous skills. We want people to able to walk out of class with a nice piece of art or something functional.”

“We have a number of classes for children,” says Stevens. “What we call ‘A Stick and a Hike’ is very popular. An adult comes with the child and they learn to carve their own hiking stick. During the morning the students learn about trail etiquette and what to take on a hike. Later they can enjoy the trails. It is a nice day to share for anyone ages 8 to 80.”

Other classes geared toward children are Nature Photography, Tinsmithing for Young People, Basic Blacksmithing, Fly-Casting Basics for the Young as well as Creative Clay Construction for Kids.

On April 21 the Adirondack Folk School will be hosting a free event called “Song and Story Swap” with singer and musician Colleen Cleveland. People are encouraged to share songs, stories or poems in a round robin, focusing on a specific theme. The Traditional Arts of Upstate New York (TAUNY) will be there with plans to record and present the evening of music on their website.

“We also have a new open air bread oven and will be teaching a series of cooking classes we didn’t have in 2011,” says Stevens. “We will be teaching a class on ancient grains and baking in a wood-fired oven. In the fall, we will be having a Colonial Fest and students will be using colonial cookbook recipes to make food by traditional methods, such as cast iron Dutch ovens.”

The Adirondack Folk School opened its doors in 2010, offering 90 classes to almost 300 students in that first year. Housed in the former Town of Lake Luzerne town hall building, the school hosts inside or outside classrooms in fiber arts, basketry, woodworking, ceramics, woodcarving, felting, quilting, blacksmithing, boatbuilding and more.

Photo provided by the Adirondack Folk School.

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


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Paddling Safely in Spring

My Adirondack family has finally stored the winter gear and is getting ready to take out the canoes for a paddle. Safety is always a concern when paddling with children so we want to take whatever precautions necessary to assure a fun experience.

Adirondacks Lakes and Trails Outfitters owner Steve Doxzon says, “This time of year it’s the cold water that is the biggest issue. People need to dress for the water temperature not the air temperature. It may be 70 degrees outside but the water is still only 37 degrees.”

Doxzon especially urges a person kayaking to dress accordingly as there is a greater chance for capsizing and hypothermia. He reminds paddlers that sudden changes in conditions, like windy days, are something to be wary of when getting out on Adirondack lakes, rivers and ponds.

He also reminds boaters that from November 1 to May 1, it is NYS law that life jackets must be worn by all people on a boat under 21feet in length. Though he recommends all his clients to wear Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) at all times, the law only requires boaters to have approved wearable life vests for each person available during those months. After May 1st, pleasure vessels must have US Coast Guard approved wearable PFDs on board for each person on the vessel. All children under 12 (aboard boats 65 feet or less)are always required to wear a PFD.

“We didn’t get a lot of snow this year so there isn’t the snow pack from the mountains. The rivers are not running as high as usual,” says Doxzon. “That may give people a false sense of security. It is really the water temperature people need to be prepared for. It has been getting down into the 20s each night so the water is going to be cold.”

According to Doxzon a person can reach exhaustion or unconsciousness in water temperatures below 32 degrees in less than 15 minutes. He reminds paddlers that in these cold-water temperatures to stay close to shore where they can get back to shore or in their boat in that 15-minute window.

If this is a bit early to be out on the water, Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters is hosting the Reel Paddling Film Festival on April 27that 7:00 p.m. at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. With a mix of paddle sport films, door prizes and silent auctions, all proceeds will go to support the Northern Forest Canoe trail.

With over 50 stops throughout Canada and the U.S., the Reel Paddling Film Fest showcases the best paddling films with the hopes of encouraging more people to explore the world waterways.

Doxzon says, “The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a 740-miletrail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. This festival supports efforts to maintain this trail.”

So whether you’re just starting out or an experiencedpaddler, be careful during this seasonal transition into the summer paddlingseason. Enjoy yourself and explore those Adirondack waterways!

Photo courtesy Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters

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


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Back to the Future’s James Tolkan

Actor James Tolkan will be in Au Sable Forks April 1 to help raise funds for two Au Sable organizations. Tolkan, a familiar character actor has been in over 70 films during his lengthy Hollywood career. With an extensive resume in TV and films, Tolkan’s Principal Strickland in the Back to The Future Trilogy is what sparked a film fundraiser for event organizer Cassidy Garrow.

Garrow says, “Flashback to the Past is my idea but I couldn’t have done it without help. I met James Tolkan at an outing. I approached him with my idea and he was very willing to help. I thought of the local organizations and know they can use the fundraising money.”

Held at the Hollywood Theatre in AuSable Forks, six classic 1980s films will be shown in succession with a special guest appearance with actor James Tolkan held at 8:00 p.m. at the Jay Community Center.Tolkan will conduct a “meet and greet” with audience members and share his experiences during the making of the films. He will also answer questions from the audience.

Seating is limited but tickets can be reserved. One of the Hollywood Theatre’s two screens will be shows what Garrow terms “chick flicks” with Footloose, Dirty Dancing and Sixteen Candles while the second movie theatre screen will house the Back To The Future Trilogy. The first show starts at noon.

“The two events, the films and meeting James Tolkan are separate,” says Garrow. “Tickets are sold individually. People can just attend the evening event if they just wish to meet James Tolken or come watch the films. I wanted to keep options available so people could attend one event or both.”

Besides a fun “flashback films of the 80s” concept, the funds raised will benefit two special local charities, the AuSable Forks Fire Department Water Rescue Program and the Jay/Black Brook Annual Toy Drive.

“The annual toy drive collects funds to buy gifts for children during the holiday season for Essex and Clinton County areas including Black Brook, the town of AuSable and Jay,” says Garrow. “ I believe that last year this organization was able to help 30 families during the holidays.”

Garrow praises the Ausable Forks Fire Department Water Rescue Program’s diligence during emergency situations. Many people rely on the Au Sable Forks Fire Department during the year and countless people were assisted during Tropical Storm Irene.“The Fire Department lost some of their equipment while rescuing people trapped by water during Irene,” says Garrow. “ We hope that funds raised by this event will help replace that equipment. The Au Sable Fire Department will also use the funds for water rescue training.”

Garrow thanked others that are helping to make this event a success including The American Leagion Post 504, Admag Designs and The Hollywood Theatre. There will be raffles for three autographed copies of the Back to the Future DVD sets, signed by James Tolken. Tolken will also do an autograph session after the “meet and greet.”

Movies and times are listed as follows: April 1
noon – 9:00 p.m. Noon -Back to the Future and Footloose.
2;15 p.m. Back to the Future II and Dirty Dancing
4:30 p.m. Back to the Future III and 16 Candles
Admission Prices:Adult $3/Child $2 (10 and under)

8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Meet James Tolkan
Admission Adult/$5, Child/$3 (10 and under)

Advanced admission tickets can be purchased by calling 518-643-2849 (cash, check, or money orders only).

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time Lake Placid and High Peaks: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities (with GPS coordinates. Her second Adirondack Family Time Champlain Valley book will be in stores summer 2012.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Learning All About Making Maple

There are a variety of places that a person can visit to see maple sap collected, especially this weekend as maple producers join together for the final days of New York State Maple Producers Association Maple Weekend.

My husband and I have had our experiences (and disagreements) with attempting to make maple syrup. All in all and only with the ability to look back do we both see it as something that was fun. It is hard work but we can say we did it, and have said it with quite some frequency.

Our friends, that actually produce syrup commercially, roll their eyes and remind us that the most we ever produce is a couple of gallons. A couple of gallons of pure gold, I must add.

At Cornell University-Uihlein Sugar Maple Research and Extension Field Station scientists and maple producers continue to perfect ways to increase maple sugar production.

Currently the sap is collected and boiled at the same rate on their 200+ acre forest research station in Lake Placid. In the Sixties, scientists improved sap collection by applying suction to the existing network of tubes that made the bucket collection technique inefficient. (If anyone has ever collected sap by bucket, you do not need research to tell you how inefficient it is.)

Uihlein continues to share its discoveries and research with professional maple producers as well as the general public through training seminars and presentations. A tour through the research facility is one way to learn about maple collecting. Uihlein also offers webinars and workshops throughout the autumn in a range of topics from Maple Production For Beginners to Making Maple Cotton. Don’t worry. You can review the webinars all year long. There are saved versions available if you are interested in attempting to collect and boil your own sap.

Before we started tapping our own trees my family attended a Cornell University-Uihlein Sugar Maple Research and Extension Field Station seminar. Even now that we have been producing syrup for a few years, we still go on tours to see what tricks we can learn to better our own backyard operation.

My children understand how time consuming producing maple can be. It is with great pride that they pour their own syrup on pancakes, making sure not to waste a single drop.

These free Maple Weekends are not all about the work but also for producers to showcase their own facilities. There are pancake breakfasts, free samples, some wagon rides to the sugar bushes and family-friendly activities at various maple producers around the Adirondacks and the rest of New York State. Enjoy!

Photo of Uihlien maple syrup grade samples used with the permission of Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Time

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid and the High Peaks. Her second book, in the four book Adirondack Family Activities series, focuses on the Champlain Valley and will be in available in stores and online summer 2012.


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.



Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.

Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.