Just as wealthy New Yorkers made Newport, Rhode Island and the Hamptons on Long Island their preferred summer estates, a different set of characters chose the wooded areas in, and fringing, the Adirondack and Appalachian mountains.
Whilst the seaside villas looked a bit like overgrown bordellos with flashy chandeliers, garish furnishings, expansive grounds and fenced compounds, those who chose to ‘go bush’ similarly fenced off their compounds beside the hundreds of lakes which dot this area of upstate New York.
The country estates were no less impressive, and appealed to many who liked the bracing northern air, lakes stocked with fish and of course, there’s the ‘hunting’ – which thankfully had died out by the early 1940s.
For this escape from clogged cities, we’ll fly into the Adirondack Regional Airport (SLK), which is able to accommodate anything up to a Boeing 757. That’s because a lot of the wealthy landowners own ‘large’ private jets.
The main runway is about 6600ft, and has both ILS and approach lighting.
The airport is served by a small company called Cape Air which operates three services daily to and from Boston Logan airport. That is, COVID19 notwithstanding!
We are heading for the region’s only 5-Star resort as a starting point, called The Point. Yes, it will probably cost an arm and a leg, but it’s a beautiful establishment that sits lightly on the environment.
It was originally built by William Avery Rockefeller in 1915, in the crush of the Great Camp era.
It’s not only one of the largest compounds on Upper Lake Saranac, but all the original buildings have been preserved and restored sympathetically.
The 46 mountains in the Adirondacks sit at about 4000 feet which means there’s plenty of snow to bring both downhill and cross country skiers to the area in winter.
However, if you’re not flying into the airport, driving to Saranac Lake in a rental car from the New York state capital, Albany, would take about 3 hours, using Interstate 87 and Route 73.
The routes offering enjoyable touring in this area are numerous, traversing the low mountain ranges, and valleys with flowing rivers and lakes.
From The Point I suggest Route 30 (south), towards Wawbeek, then take a left, onto Route 3 (the Tupper Lake Highway), and head north to the village of Saranac Lake. There’s restaurants, gas stations and gift shops, so it’s an acceptable pit stop.
Depending on how much driving you want to do, you could take Route 86 (NW) towards Harrietstown, and take Route 186 (south), which leads you back past the airport to The Point.
Or, if time is not a consideration, you can continue north to Bloomingdale, then take a very secluded side road, Route 55, which links back to 186, and heading south once again brings you back to the airport.
Further south of the airport, you can check out Siamese Ponds Wilderness, or the Silver Lake Wildness. The actual wooded areas are State Parks, and off limits, but the routes which criss-cross the area have a lot to offer.
The rustic atmosphere, the roadside scenery with waterfalls and creeks are a delight to the eye, and I challenge anyone not to 'chill' just being in this beautiful environment.
After this drive, you have several options, because you are very close to both Montreal and Ottawa, and if you’re in a rental car, you can make it a one way rental to either of these beautiful, and historic Canadian cities – for a complete change of scene.