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Peeping tourists: Adirondacks provide fantastic fall color preview

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It sounds a bit salacious, but my husband and I just engaged in a bit of leaf peeping.

And there’s no better place to do it than Adirondack Park in upstate New York, which offers 3.4 million acres of privately owned communities intertwined with 2.6 million acres of state-owned wilderness.

Like Long Lake, where we stayed near the center of the park, villages and hamlets stretch out along two-lane highways winding through mature green forests that in the waning days of September grew more and more tinged with brilliant yellow, orange and red.

Where leaf peeping is a thing and where “peepers” haul their canoes, bicycles and hiking boots on the weekends to get a good look. Weekdays were even better, with smaller tourist spots closing for the season and when we could have this gorgeous place more to ourselves.

Andy and I covered quite a bit of ground over seven days in the park, sampling attractions that ranged in Lake Placid alone from impressive Winter Olympics facilities to the humble homestead of abolitionist John Brown.


The Wild Center – This natural history museum of the Adirondacks in Tupper Lake features a fun system of elevated outdoor trails that let you take a gander at wildlife from tree level plus a 54,000-square-foot museum that's both family and photo-friendly.

I especially appreciated that nearly all the trails, including those at ground level, were wheelchair accessible and that many of the attractive small-animal habitats indoors didn't put a pane of glass between visitors and the assortment of turtles and other interesting creatures.

High Falls Gorge – Located near Wilmington, this 22-acre nature park provides safe, but not handicap accessible, trail access to four splendid waterfalls fed by the AuSable River.

It's also close to the Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort.

You'll want to arrive at least one hour before closing time to fully enjoy the breathtaking views and wonderful photographic vantage points.

Long Lake – Donnelly's Sunset Point was an ideal base of operations not only for seeing the sights but for spending some quality time with our nephew Scott Fulk of Ballston Lake, N.Y., his wife Kristy, and their two red-haired boys, Brendan and D.J.

We'd seen them while spending the previous weekend with Andy's brother, Roger Fulk, and his wife Kathy in Ballston Spa, but our cabin was roomy enough to sleep six and allowed us experience together Buttermilk Falls in Long Lake and also the Adirondack Museum in nearby Blue Mountain Lake.

Despite its relatively small size, the village of Long Lake also features multiple dining options, an excellent trading post in Hoss's Country Corner and even a little here-today-gone-tomorrow resale shop where I picked up a fleece jacket for $6 after temperatures began dipping into the 30s at night.

The fall foliage remained the highlight, however, and was perhaps shown off to best advantage as the sun sank toward the horizon while we made our way back to Long Lake each night.

Our car cast in deep shadow and the treetops illuminated in golden light, we felt like awestruck moviegoers taking in the colorful, changing panorama above.


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