The Gateway to the Adirondacks
By Sandra Scott
Discover the birthplace of the American vacation! The destination that started it all, the Adirondack Mountains, was first made famous in James Fenimore Cooper’s “Leatherstocking Tales.” Warren County is the gateway to this wonderland. The area still draws visitors year round to enjoy nature, adventure and to relax.
1. History: Warren County was on the New York-Montreal military route that was used during the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. At the southern end of Lake George the reconstructed Fort William Henry was significant during the French and Indian Wars. The siege of Fort William Henry by the French under Montcalm is accurately portrayed in the book and the movie, “The Last of the Mohicans,” including the participation by the Iroquois nation. It was successfully attacked by General Montcalm. The fort was destroyed. Nearby is “Bloody Pond” where hundreds of dead French and Indian soldiers were dumped during the Battle of Lake George. In Lake George, the historical society has displays on local history. The Warrensburg Museum has exhibits for all ages, chronicling the town’s history from prehistoric times to the present. In Glens Falls pick up a self-guided walking tour of the historic parts of the village. Chestertown and Bolton Landing also have historical museums.
2. Cooper’s Cave: Under the bridge that crosses the Hudson River in the village of Glens Falls there is a cave that gave inspiration to James Fenimore Cooper when he was writing about the French and Indian War in his book “The Last of the Mohicans.” Cooper’s Cave is where Col. Duncan Heyward safely secreted two sisters from the enemy while on their way to their father, Lieutenant-Colonel George Munro, who was a commander at Fort William Henry in Lake George. There is a handicapped-accessible view platform with several story boards.
3. Water fun: The water activities are everywhere, including swimming on the Million Dollar Beach, but the must-do is a boat ride on the lake. Don’t have your own boat — no worry. The Lake George Steamboat Company has been steaming about the lake since 1817. They offer one- and two-hour cruises. The Minne-Ha-Ha is one of the last steam paddle wheel ships in America. You can rent a boat or go slow water tubing. The lakes abound in fish.
4. Foodies: Every region has a foodie favorite. In Warren County it is what the locals call “dirty John’s hot dogs” at New Way lunch. It has been around since 1919. The “World Famous” hot dog is a custom-made pork and beef hot dog served on a steamed bun with mustard, onion, and New Way’s homemade meat sauce. Being a year-round resort there are plenty of good restaurants in all price categories but there are also some locally made food products such as goat cheese, maple syrup, wine, and olive oil. In the unique category check out the floating 12-passenger Tiki Bar.
5. Art: The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls may be small but its collection is exceptional, including European and American art that compares favorably to major metropolitan museums. The collection includes European works by Botticelli, Rembrandt, Rubens, Degas along with American artists Winslow Homer and James McNeill Whistler. The museum also features national and international exhibitions along with an historical house. Check out the historic mural at the Warrensburg Historical Society.
6. Thrilling: Thrill seekers will marvel at the views from their parasailing adventure. Scenic flights of the area are available from Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport in Glens Falls. Hold your breath or let out a scream on Six Flags Great Escape and Hurricane Harbor’s roller coasters and water slides. If you have never been white water rafting don’t wait — it is exhilarating. Consider the unique adventure from the Revolution Rail Co, and head through the mountains on a pedal-powered railbik.
7. Farms and Ranches: Nettle Meadow is a sanctuary farm and cheese company caring for goats and creating unique blends of cheeses. Nearby there are several maple sugar farms to visit. The Wild West is alive and well in Warren County. There are several dude ranches with a western ambiance where one can go trail riding. There are even exciting rodeos.
8. Nature: Nature is everywhere. For a panoramic view take the trail or drive to the top of Prospect Mountain. The area abounds in nature trails perfect for hiking, trail biking or cross-country skiing. Up Yonda Farm offers 73 acres with a spectacular view overlooking Lake George. Public nature programs on a variety of topics are presented year round. There are natural history exhibits featuring a diorama with native mammals and birds are housed in the museum.
9. Unique: The Mystery Spot defies the laws of acoustics. Face the lake and shout or sing and your echo will come back to you. Only you will hear it and only on this precise spot. There hasn’t been any definitive answer as to why it happens so the Native American legend may be the most interesting answer. They say an ancient god appeared on this spot and shared his wisdom. There is no sign for the Mystery Spot but it is easy to find. It is behind the Lake George Visitor Center. Look for a cement place with a swath of blue paint with two intersecting metal lines and stand where they meet and sing.
10. Events: For every season there is a reason for an event. Start the year with the winter carnivals, welcome spring with activities with a focus on maple syrup, summer brings music festivals, and fall is time for Oktoberfests. The most colorful event is the Adirondack Balloon Festival featuring over 100 hot air balloons. The event has been canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus.