Since when did vacation become just another workweek, albeit with prettier scenery? It's increasingly difficult to truly "get away from it all," but one of the Northeast's most popular destinations still offers a real escape from your busy life back home.
New York's Adirondack Park is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi. (That's approximately 6.1 million acres where you have the potential to receive absolutely no cell phone service.) Outdoor adventure is the draw here; centering your trip around the High Peaks region, home to the village of Lake Placid, provides the opportunity to climb the state's tallest mountains, wade in world-class fly-fishing waters, and learn to paddle board, all in the same weekend. Because when you're negotiating a pitch or landing a brook trout, the last thing on your mind will be the week's sales reports.
Hiking and climbing: The Adirondack Mountain Club's High Peaks Information Center at Heart Lake (1002 Adirondack Loj Road, Lake Placid; 518-523-3441), is home base for some of the area's most popular trail heads -- from short, easy hikes with big views (Mt. Jo) to classic slide climbs (Trap Dyke) to day-long excursions that culminate in standing atop New York State (the 5,344-foot peak of Mt. Marcy is N.Y.'s tallest).
Fishing: Renowned for its rugged beauty and optimum conditions for a high trout population, the West Branch of the Ausable River is one of the most prized waterways among fly fishermen. Located near a prime stretch of the river, The Hungry Trout Resort's fly shop (5239 Route 86, Wilmington; 800-766-9137) provides daily stream reports, gear rental and guide services.
Paddle sports: The Saint Regis Canoe Area, northwest of Lake Placid, covers 18,400 acres of wilderness waterways designated for canoe and kayak use -- no motors allowed. For rentals, guide services or just tips on trip planning, St. Regis Canoe Outfitters has locations in Saranac Lake (73 Dorsey St.; 518-891-1838) and at the edge of the St. Regis Wilderness (Floodwood Road at Long Pond Portage, Lake Clear; 518-891-8040).
For a less traditional afternoon on the water, try stand-up paddleboarding. Though they look like oversized surf boards, paddleboards require no waves and provide an easy way to play on the park's more than 3,000 lakes and ponds. Eastern Mountain Sports (2453 Main St., Lake Placid; 518-523-2505) offers all the gear and instruction you need to get started, right out the store's back door on Mirror Lake.
Where to stay
Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort
Seeking adventure doesn’t require roughing it. Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort is a lovely, comfortably appointed hotel located directly on Mirror Lake — swimming and paddle sports are inherently part of the deal here. Luxury and nature coexist at Golden Arrow — the only resort in the U.S. to receive a 5-Leaf status in the Audubon Society’s eco-rating program, thanks to the hotel’s sustainability efforts. Splurge for a waterfront room, where waking to views of the lake and Whiteface Mountain are inspiration for your day’s Adirondacks excursion. Need a little help planning your outdoors activity? The hotel has teamed with EMS to offer adventure packages that include guide services for a number of sports — plus a yummy boxed lunch of locally sourced food. (2559 Main St., Lake Placid; 518-523-3353. Regular room rates start at $159.)
Get to know the High Peaks region with a local guide.
The Eastern Mountain Sports location on Main Street in Lake Placid is not only conveniently located, it’s staffed by outdoors-loving professionals who can lead you to the right shoes for your High Peaks climb and actually guide you up that back country rock face you’ve been dreaming of tackling. EMS guides at this location offer instruction in rock climbing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and more.