Author Topic: Lake Placid Winter Trip  (Read 1393 times)

Offline Happy Gal

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Lake Placid Winter Trip
« on: February 25, 2024, 03:30:50 AM »
I enjoyed reading so many TRs, both for entertainment purposes, and for practical application for my own trips, and I decided it's time to give back. I’m starting with a short day trip, and I hope to get to some longer ones one day.
Disclaimer: My images are nowhere near the caliber of those I see in TRs, but I wanted to share them to give you a feel of what these places are like, since they do a better job than words.

Here goes:

I wanted to do a ‘winter activity’ trip, for children of various ages. We could only do a day trip at this time, so although I’d had loved to explore more of New England, I had to choose between the Northwest Massachusetts/Southern Vermont, and the Adirondacks. The latter won out, mostly because I wanted to visit Saranac Lakes Ice Palace. (More about that later.)We wanted to bookend our trip with Shacharis and Mincha/Maariv in Albany, so I waited for late February, when we’d have Mincha/Maariv later in the day, but our trip was still super short due to the bookends.

We got to Albany at 6:30am, where we found a super-friendly minyan (as befits an out-of-town minyan). One guy even gave us ‘shliach mitzvah gelt’. As soon as davening was over, we headed out for Lake Placid. Our first hour was pretty blah, but as our ascent began in earnest, the drive turned extremely scenic, and there were many pullouts all along the route. I had toyed with the idea of stopping by Split Rock Falls to see a frozen waterfall, but we saw such beautiful, frozen-over streams on the rocks all along the way, that I decided to skip the detour.

On the way up, we saw cars at many pull outs, but no people. My guess is that they climbed deeper into the woods for ice climbing and other adventures. On our descent, we did see many people skating on frozen lakes. 

Our first stop was Mirror Lake in Lake Placid. The scene was breathtaking, with snow capped mountains in the background, and it was super cool to walk and glide over a frozen lake. It was also fun to guess where the lake started, utilizing different hints (such as a wooden pier, etc.) We watched young kids gliding along the lake on their ice skates, other kids playing ice hockey, parents pulling young ones on inflatable tubes, and dog-parents walking their furry friends, some of them in coats.

We were on the lookout for the dog sleighs. My prior research had found that there were two outlets in town, both of which had no website, no easy contact, and did not provide reservations. All the direction I could find was to head down to the lake and we’d find the mushers. When I tried calling in advance, Mike Arnold Dog Sled Rides phone number was out of service, and Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours had a recorded message that they offered rides weather permitting. I wasn’t sure if that message was from this year or the previous winter.

A couple of days before our trip I called Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours again, and they offered more information, including their price of $20 per person, duration of the sleigh ride (5 minute loop around the lake), hours of operation (10am-5pm during weekends and some weekdays), and location (Across the street from Main Street, High Peak Resort on Lake-which I googled for the GPS and found it at 2384 Saranac Ave, Lake Placid, NY 12946).  This updated message gave me more confidence that we’d actually get our dog sleigh rides.

As it turns out, we saw two outlets offering dog sleigh rides on the lake, at around a 7 minute walking distance one from the other. While my kids waited in line at one, I went to check on the other line, which proved to be a lot shorter, so they joined me on the shorter line. I never found out who actually gave us the ride, since neither outlet had identifiable signage or other identifiable gear.

While waiting in line, we noticed a small area where the ice had been deliberately broken through, apparently to draw water for the dogs in between runs.

It was fun to watch the dogs making the loops. While I have a crazy fear of dogs, some of my kids would’ve liked to pet them-they did look rather cute in their white fur. But it seemed like the operators wanted to keep things moving and the dogs did not seem to be on their best behavior, so I didn’t want to make any ripples, and I didn’t ask if we could interact with the dogs. I don’t think the $20 fee justified the ride, but it was a nice experience nonetheless. On our way back to the car, we saw a dog trailer pulling up, clueing me into the fact that they rotate rather often.

Another popular activity on the lake is the Toboggan Chute, but that only opened at 12pm and we were on our way long before that.

Our next stop was the Olympics Jumping Complex. Along the way, we passed a Jewish cemetery. Had I been on my own, I may have stopped to see if I could glean any info on Jewish life in Lake Placid, but I knew my kids wouldn’t appreciate it, so we just went on. I later tried googling Jewish life in Lake Placid, but I didn’t find anything of note.

I had checked the Lake Placid Legacy Sites Calendar ahead of time to see where we’d see some interesting athletic activity, and I was super excited to see that athletes would be training the day we were visiting. This activity was blessedly free, and one of my kids later admitted that it was the day’s favorite. (It's not the first time we enjoyed the free activity the most.)

Since the athletes were in training, they didn’t use the actual Jumping Site that is used during shows and the Olympics, but watching their stunts was still worth the trip. Some athletes just skied down the mountain, while others tumblesauced in the air before descending. There were people at the top constantly shoveling the snow-to keep it level from all the jumping, I guess.

As soon as an athlete skid to a stop, we’d applaud and they’d radio someone (their instructor at the top?) from a radio hanging in a bag on the fence (visible in the pic). While we were pretty close, I couldn’t hear the interaction. Athletes wore Visa armbands next to their American flag, and my assumption is that Visa sponsors this group.

Athletes use gondolas to get to the top, and these are available for visitors, but we didn’t partake. 

That blue blur circled in red is an athlete during a tumblesauce in the air. At the bottom, you can see an athlete who had completed the jump/ski watching her friend do the same.

Next, we were off to Saranac Lake, a 15 minute drive from Lake Placid. As mentioned above, one of the draws to this area was the Saranac Lake Ice Palace. ‘Google’ had assured me that the structure remains in place for a couple of weeks after the winter carnival closing date, which had been just the week before our visit. The night before our visit I had found that images of the Ice Palace had been uploaded that week to Ice Palace’s Google page, and I had been sure we’d enjoy this one-of-a-kind structure.
Unfortunately, the only remnant of the palace was a pile of ice. After circling the lake a few times, we eventually gave up and moved on. Later, ‘Google’ told me that the structure had been dismantled due to safety concerns brought by unseasonably warm weather.

A pile of disappointing ice.

Our next and last stop was Dewey Mountain Recreation Center for some skiing. For some of my kids, this would be their first time skiing, and those who had been in the past were still at beginner’s level. I booked a lesson and reserved ski gear in advance. It’s a nice place for beginners, and people looking for a ‘ski stroll’ in the park (a couple of active seniors skied past us-including a guy who bageled us by telling us that the weather would be nice on Shabbos), rather than a cross country ski experience. Rather than a bunny hill and ski mountains, they offer very gentle slopes in clearings through a wooded area.

Our instructor was super friendly and personable, and he taught us the basics, but not enough for us to move past the beginner, beginner level, although this can be because we were a group of several ages and abilities. Some of us fell more than we skied (thankfully, we learned how to fall safely), but we had a great time doing so and I’m hopeful that with more practice, we’ll graduate to the real deal.

And with that, we wrapped our day.

I would’ve loved to visit either High Falls Gorge or The Wild Center for some more winter beauty, but a good trip is only one which leaves one wanting for more, so we had to leave some things undone.

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Lake Placid Winter Trip
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2024, 11:05:32 PM »
I loved reading your family focused trip report! Day trips can be awesome when properly planned!
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