Plan Your Perfect Adirondack Summer with These Ideas for Family Fun

by Adirondack Life | August 2022

photograph courtesy of the Wild Center


Paddle On
The Wild Center
518) 359-7800,
45 Museum Drive, Tupper Lake

To sample the paddling life without all the packing and planning, try a guided canoe trip through the Raquette River’s oxbow. The mile-long trips—which run once a day, every Saturday and Sunday through mid-October—are open to explorers of all abilities, ages four and up. Groups are led by Wild Center naturalists, who help families scout marshy habitats and catch glimpses of critters. Paddles, boats and life jackets are supplied; reservations are required. 

The View from Here
McCauley Mountain
(315) 369-3225,
300 McCauley Mountain Road, Old Forge

Climbing a High Peak isn’t the only way to score a dramatic view. You and your crew can soak in the beauty of the Fulton Chain of Lakes from the McCauley Mountain Scenic Chair Lift and even, on a clear day, spot Whiteface and Mount Marcy. Pack a lunch or snacks to munch on as you take in more of the view from the Adirondack chairs at the pretty picnic spot up top.

Disc Drives
Whiteface Mountain (518-946-2223,, 5021 Route 86, Wilmington); Gore Mountain (518-251-2411,, 793 Peaceful Valley Road, North Creek); Oak Mountain (518-548-3606,, 141 Novosel Way, Speculator)
If you’re ready for some mountainside Frisbee fun, try your arm at disc golf—a sport with the same rules as golf, but the target is a basket and there are no fancy clubs required. Whiteface Mountain’s course, which meanders around its lower trails, opens on July 1; Gore’s season at its “Airbender Woods” 9-hole course kicks off June 30; and Oak Mountain’s tees have been hopping since Memorial Day.

Natural Stone Bridge & Caves
(518) 494-2283,
535 Stone Bridge Road, Pottersville
For a less than ordinary walk in the park, head to the rocky playland of the Natural Stone Bridge & Caves for a Self-Guided Cave Tour. The three-quarter-mile trek winds past waterfalls, potholes, surface caves and grottos—and, of course, the arching Stone Bridge. It’s a family-friendly outing, though you should bring your sturdy shoes to conquer the more than 500 stairs. For explorers 13 and up, the Adventure Tour offers a three-plus-hour journey through four caves and past an underground waterfall, with a final float back to the sunshine. Adventure Tours are only available in July and August and reservations are required.

Bike the Bog
Bloomingdale Bog
The 3.7-mile trail—stretching from Route 86 in Saranac Lake to the Bloomingdale-Gabriels Road in Bloomingdale—follows an abandoned railroad bed, making for a level ride through one of the largest bogs in northern New York. The stretch is a birders’ paradise, with an engaging mix of wide views and bustling habitats. For a short out-and-back for little legs, start in Bloomingdale and pedal about a mile to Two Bridge Brook. Find directions and a map at   

Starry, Starry Nights
Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory
(518) 359-3538,
178 Big Wolf Road, Tupper Lake
One of the million-dollar views on offer in the Adirondacks is our darker-than-dark skies. And one of the best places to enjoy the show is at the Adirondack Sky Center’s roll-off-roof observatory, with its impressive collection of powerful telescopes. Public viewing happens every clear Friday evening from Memorial Day to Labor Day, starting a half-hour after sunset. Track observing conditions and events on the center’s Facebook page.

Animal Attraction
Adirondack Carousel
(518) 891-9521,
2 Depot Street, Saranac Lake
It’s unlikely you’ll come across another carousel quite like this one. Kiddos will love the creatures that go round and round in the pavilion at William Morris Park. They can hop on and ride a hand-carved loon, white-tail deer, great blue heron, largemouth bass, beaver, skunk, blackfly, black bear and other Adirondack wildlife. The carousel is open weekends, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (3 p.m. on Sundays).      

Rock On
Ausable Chasm
(518) 834-7454,
2144 Route 9, Ausable Chasm
The oldest natural attraction in the East is still a draw for kids—and grownups—who wish to walk beside the chasm’s imposing sandstone walls. But the Adventure Trail, for ages 8 and up, escalates the drama. Cable bridges spiderweb over the rapids below, and cliff walks bring explorers even closer to formations like Elephant’s Head and Hell’s Gate. And for a spookier view of this glacier-carved wonder, two-hour Lantern Tours, for ages 10 and up, descend into the canyon after dusk. The evening is capped by a cozy campfire and marshmallow roast. Reservations required.

Take the Bait
Indian Lake Kids’ Fishing Derby
Let your little anglers—ages 16 and under—show their stuff at Byron Park on July 2 starting at 8 a.m. Loaner poles are available, if needed, along with bait, lunch and prizes—and it’s all free.

Once Upon a Peak
Sleeping Beauty Mountain
It isn’t just the Disneyesque name that makes this mountain, in Fort Ann, an appealing trek for adventurous kids. The 3.6-mile round-trip is short but moderately steep, rewarding the effort with sweeping views of Lake George that make you feel like royalty. For a fairy-tale ending, stop at Hillbilly Fun Park, at the intersection of Route 149 and Hadlock Pond Road, for a sundae. Know before you go: sometimes the dirt road to the Dacy Clearing trailhead closes due to muddy conditions, adding 1.5 miles each way. Visit for more information.

Elevated Play
Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course
518) 494-7200,
35 Westwood Forest Lane, Bolton Landing
All of the action at this popular woodsy park is high above terra firma. Here, depending on age (6 and up), size and ability, you can tackle aerial obstacles such as punching bags and Tarzan swings, or zip through treetops or crawl across rope ladders. Open daily; reservations required. 

A Sweet Hike
Mount Arab
With a mile-long trail, a grassy summit for picnics and a restored fire tower to take in expansive views, Mount Arab is one of the most family-friendly hikes around. A fire observer’s cabin, supported by Friends of Mount Arab and often staffed with a helpful volunteer, serves as an information center, detailing the history of the mountain and the critical role the tower and its fire-spotter once played. Add to that the mountain’s sweet name—it’s believed to come from a mangled translation of the French word érable, meaning maple. Find the trailhead on Mount Arab Road, south of Route 3 in Piercefield. See for more information.   

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