Dispatches from The Inn

Lake Placid Adirondacks hiking with Chelsea continues

Lake Placid Adirondacks

Chelsea Walker, from Mirror Lake Inn’s salon, logs many hours on the 46 High Peaks of the Adirondacks with her trusty dog, Ryder. She’s only too happy to share her experiences with you and serve as your high elevation concierge.

It was a two day, two night adventure starting at Tahawus and Upper Works trailheads in the Lake Placid region of the Adirondacks. We set up base camp at one of the available spots off the main road leading into Upper Works.

Day one we set out for the Santanonis planning to conquer all three and crossing our fingers for good weather. It turned out to be a perfect day.

Our first ascent was up Santanoni Peak, followed by Couchsacagra and then ending on Panther. We chose this approach based on my friend’s prior experience and judging where most of the “work” would be spent.

Lake Placid

Here’s the view from Panther

All three peaks in the Adirondacks require a good bit of scrambling over steep terrain. The trails, most being herd paths, are very tight and thick. However, this 15.5 mile loop is a great way to knock out three peaks in one day. We began our journey at 9 AM and were out by 6:45 PM, spending nearly and hour on each summit.

All three of these peaks in the Adirondacks offer amazing views. Couch however, is a bit of a pain. It seems so out of the way for a high peak that isn’t even above 4,000 feet. But once we reached Panther and we could retrace our steps on the open view of Santanoni and Couch and Times Square, it made our efforts seem worth the extra work.

We saw quite a few moose tracks, some between Santanoni and Times Square. Surprising to have seen them this high. It is very rugged and still at 4,100 feet in elevation!

The bugs were not to bad on this hike, but most of it was spent at higher elevation, the humidity was low, and there was a nice breeze.

Day two was the grand finale of the trip. Allen, the well known “way out there by itself” monster of a day hike, is known for being one of the hardest. We started fairly late for a hike like this, but with the reward of knowing we had broken down camp. Once we were out we were heading home to hot showers and firm mattresses. The late start didn’t seem to phase us.

The beginning of the hike was a deer fly war zone, swatting and batting them away for the first several miles which are spent in low elevation. It was much warmer and humid, and the air was significantly still compared to the day before. Once we reached the river crossing about 5.5 miles in, the bugs finally began to dissipate.

On and on we went. The never-ending trail. Yet again we saw tons of moose tracks.

Lake Placid Adirondacks

Moose tracks! You never know whom you’ll meet in the Lake Placid Adirondack region

After hiking what seemed like forever but was only three hours we crossed Skylight Brook and were finally beginning to climb the base of Allen. This is where it really kicked in. Allen is incredibly steep. Following Allen Brook most the way, it is an obstacle course of rocks, small and large boulders, slabs, trees fallen and in place, water, and red algae that is extremely slick.

This went on and on, for about a mile and a half, gaining so much elevation with every step. Though it was mentally and physically grueling, it was for me, one of my favorite hikes. The views were breathtaking once you got high enough on the brook near the slide. Though the view is not right from the summit, you can achieve a 365 degree view from Allen at a few different points with just a short stroll from the summit sign.

Luckily for me, I had two days in a row of beautiful open views and I got to see from a different perspective the mountains that I so frequently climb.

Being my first time in this section of the High Peaks, it was almost like rediscovering the Adirondacks, and after such a long, exhausting hike, you realize there is a reason Allen is “way out there” all by itself.

Happy hiking everyone! Be smart, be safe and remember….leave no trace and practice environmental stewardship in our pristine Lake Placid Adirondacks region!


Hiking the Lake Placid Adirondacks region

Gray Peak in the Lake Placid Adirondacks region

By day Chelsea Walker styles hair in our award-winning spa/salon. But on her days off she prepares a backpack, and takes her four-legged pal Ryder into the woods of the Lake Placid Adirondacks region. Here is Chelsea’s latest blog.

In the midst of the busy summer season here at the Mirror Lake Inn, I’m working hard to find time for the great Adirondack outdoors. But it’s important to make time to enjoy the environment around Lake Placid. So let’s get you up to date.

The month of June was very busy for me between work, a visit from the parents, moving, and some outdoor activities I could do around Lake Placid. But what I did do was every bit of amazing that it could be.

Redfield in the Lake Placid Adirondacks region

Chelsea recently hiked Redfield, one of the 46 peaks in the Lake Placid Adirondacks region

While the parents were in town we went to Blue Mountain Lake to check out the Adirondack Museum. I highly recommend this to anyone. It’s just 63 miles from Lake Placid. A truly great museum with exceptional exhibits! It was well worth the admission prices! Also if you are a resident of the Adirondacks you receive half price membership!

On June 11 the trail crew (my pup Ryder and my companion Dan) and I left Lake Placid and set out for Gray. We decided to go up Marcy then to Gray. This was my second ascent up Marcy in exactly two weeks.

The highlight of our day occurred 15-20 minutes into our hike, about 1.5 miles from the Loj trailhead heeding to Marcy Dam. There it was. A big bull moose 20-30 feet on the trail ahead of us. My trail partner and I are fairly quiet mission hikers, which is why I feel we were lucky enough to see the moose. He never heard us coming. And there it was….proof beyond tracks in the mud, for my own eyes to see.

That just set the mood for the rest of our hike. We scaled Marcy in under three hours. Made great time and had fairly decent weather. Cool and windy, but no rain. Gray is a fairly easy hike for most. There is one cairn that marks the trail at the base, and it is pretty straightforward on where to go next. It was not my favorite Adirondacks hike, but I enjoyed it very much as I do all of them for their own little unique traits.

June 26 I scaled McKenzie in the morning with Ryder, and then Pitchoff in the afternoon with the full team (Ryder, Dan and I). Pitchoff was a fun scramble of a hike and the reward at the top is breathtaking! Of course we followed up our hike with a nice dip in the Cascade Lakes.

The rest of June was spent moving but I found relief running the pup on the Peninsula and Jack Rabbit trails right in Lake Placid….another bonus to living in such an amazing place. There is so much to do locally. If you are short on time there is still a way to find your outlet.

Pitchoff Mountain in the Lake Placid Adirondacls region

One of the popular hikes around Lake Placid is Pitchoff Mountain

Most recently, July 9, Redfield was the latest grab. I have heard so many negative things about Redfield, as I have others. And really this might be a favorite of mine. It’s out there, depending on which way you go in. We seem to favor Avalanche Pass, mostly because the Lake Arnold trails are such a mess. We didn’t want to waste the gas driving to the Upper Works trailhead and we didn’t feel like climbing Marcy yet again. So we chose Avalanche Pass making this easily a 20 mile day hike. But it was worth every step.

Redfield has a herd path marked by a cairn on the south side of the trail from the uphill lean-to. Follow it in just a bit and it Ys to the right for Cliff, left for Redfield. Most do them together, but I did Cliff last November intending to do Redfield as well, but had to bail due to below zero temps and other ailments.

The herd path winds up the brook with stunning views behind you. Following the cairns up the brook, reaching the top, we met a group of five, one of which had just finished his 46 peaks on Redfield. It was nice to be part of his moment, also knowing mine is coming soon.

We all have our reasons for choosing to climb the 46 highest peaks in the Adirondacks and Lake Placid, and they may different than the guy next to you. But its moments out there on the trail, that for a short moment in time, you are a big part of a stranger’s life, but you’re not really strangers at all.

Best dining in the Adirondacks

Fine dining in the Adirondacks begins at The View Restaurant

2014 is proving to be another outstanding year to dine at The View Restaurant and Taste Bistro and Bar. You’ll find them both inside Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa.

Restaurants in the Adirondacks display the Wine Spectator logo

The Wine Spectator logo is proudly displayed in The View Restaurant

The View, AAA Four Diamond rated as “Exceptional” for the past seven years, recently received the 2014 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for the 15th consecutive year. The View, an upscale dining experience, is also a recipient of the 2014 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence. The View is positioned as the top-rated hotel restaurant in the village by Trip Advisor. Trip Advisor, the world’s largest travel site, offers reviews and advice on hotels, resorts, flights and much more, while Wine Spectator is a magazine that focuses on the culture of wine. It is a top consumer and business publication for wealthy readers.

“The training of staff that occurs regularly, I feel, has enabled us to retain the prestigious Wine Spectator Award for all these years,” said Restaurant Manager Katie Welch. “We know it’s important to discerning guests to provide knowledge and guidance in selecting the appropriate pairing with their dinners. We will continue to bring in the representatives from the wineries and their vintners to enhance our knowledge, and in turn, make the dining experience that much better.”

Executive Chef Jarrad Lang and his staff continue to offer the farm-to-table dining experience. This is ensured by The View’s partnerships with farms in the Adirondacks, providing locally-sourced beef, produce, vegetables and cheeses. Chef Lang tailors the seasonal menu weekly based on input from the farms and what’s being harvested that week. It is commonplace to see him hand-picking these products from their delivery trucks.

Farms in the Adirondacks bring their products to Mirror Lake Inn tables

The View Restaurant brings the best from farms in the Adirondacks to our tables

The adjacent Taste Bistro and Bar, with its casual ambiance and live weekend entertainment, seats patrons or welcomes them for dining at the bar. Taste Bistro was a 2014 winner of the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

“The awards and testimonials we have received are greatly appreciated,” said Mirror Lake Inn owner Ed Weibrecht. “They reflect the thorough effort by our food and beverage staffs, led by Jarrad and Katie. The accolades tell us that we are exceptional, and it’s because we have an exceptional group of employees.”

Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa, with seven acres that overlook Mirror Lake, has received the AAA Four Diamond Award for 30 consecutive years. Together with The View Restaurant, the resort offers Lake Placid’s only Four Diamond lodging and dining combination, as well as the community’s lone Four Diamond dining establishment.

Conde Nast Traveler wrote in the December 2013 edition that together with The Cottage Café - Mirror Lake Inn’s award-winning lakeside pub – “the historic inn’s three restaurants plate the best food in the Adirondacks.”