The Adirondack Region
The Adirondack Park was created in 1882 by the New York State Legislature, which enacted measures that guarantee public lands will remain forever wild. The Park itself is the size of the state of Vermont, with a structure unlike any other state or national park in the nation: it is a patchwork of public and private lands. There are expansive blocks of backcountry interspersed with private homes, villages and tracts of corporate forest lands under active management. In the Adirondacks, it is possible to hike to an isolated waterfall in the afternoon, then spend the evening strolling Main Street.
The Blue Line
Within the "Blue Line," as the park boundary is called, more than 40 state-operated campgrounds, 2,000 miles of hiking trails, hundreds of miles of canoe routes and 42 peaks over 4,000 feet in height entice travelers from all over the world. During the winter, visitors enjoy Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowmobiling, skating, dog sledding and relaxing in front of gigantic stone fireplaces.
Interstate Rt. 87 passes through the Adirondack Park along its eastern side, originating in the Albany area and continuing north to the Canadian border, but there are over 40 other roads entering the park as well. As a result, there is no "entrance gate," and no admission fee. (Fees apply at state campgrounds, but hiking, canoe and boat access on state lands are free.)
Hike. Canoe. Boat. Fish. Swim. Ride mountain or road bikes. Ride horses. Camp. Ski. Snowmobile. Hunt. Tour Olympic sites. Visit museums chronicling the hard-knock history of farmers, loggers and health care pioneers. Shop artisan outlets. Take architectural tours. Enjoy theater and art exhibitions. Sit on the veranda sipping drinks and watching the sun slip behind the mountains. Or do it all.
The Adirondacks are home to black bears, white tailed deer, common loons, mergansers, bald eagles, beavers, coyotes, fishers, bobcats, brook and lake trout, land-locked salmon and more.
Its forests are comprised of hardwoods and softwoods, including maple, black cherry, beech, balsam fir, hemlock, Scotch and red pine and spruces of several varieties. Woodland wildflowers such as showy ladyslippers bloom in the spring, while many waterways are graced with white and yellow water lilies throughout the summer. There are several Alpine summits in the Adirondacks where rare plants thrive under adverse conditions. Hikers are cautioned to stay on paths or bare rocks when visiting these summits.
The Adirondacks are part of the Canadian Shield. Contrary to popular belief, these mountains are not old, "worn down" peaks, but relatively young mountains born as a result of orogeny, or uplift, followed by etching and carving by mile-high glaciers. It is theorized that there is a geologic "hotspot" beneath the Adirondacks that is causing continuing uplift. The mountains continue to grow at the rate of 1.5 millimeters annually. While the mountains themselves are young, the rock of which most are formed, anorthosite, is among the oldest of the various types found on earth.