NYS Adds 69,000 Acres to State Forest Preserve

New York State has added 69,000 acres to the State Forest Preserve © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

Those who appreciate the outdoors will cheer the latest phase of New York State’s acquisition of 69,000 acres to the State Forest Preserve formerly owned by Finch Pruyn & Company, as well as $875,000 in available grants for projects to develop sites within the Adirondack Park and further position the region as a world-class tourism and recreation destination.

“Expanding the State Forest Preserve will provide new year-round recreational opportunities to New Yorkers and tourists alike and continue to grow the North Country’s economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “Protecting these lands and providing grants for site improvements helps ensure that the Forest Preserve remains an unparalleled natural, recreational, and economic asset available to all visitors.”

The lands acquired from the properties formerly owned by Finch Pruyn & Company will protect miles of waterways and open spaces. To better improve the recreational and economic opportunities available, the $875,000 in grants will fund hiking, horseback riding trails, biking, snowmobiling and connector trails, as well as smart growth planning in the region.

Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens said, “Time and time again Governor Cuomo has demonstrated his commitment to bettering the Adirondack Park and increasing opportunities for growth in the North Country’s economy and tourism industry. These grants will strengthen the connection between local communities and State Forest lands in the heart of the Adirondack Park and help municipalities take advantage of all these extraordinary lands have to offer.”

Third Phase of Acquisitions of the former Finch Pruyn & Co. Properties

In fulfillment of its 2012 pledge to expand the State Forest Preserve and acquire 69,000 acres of former Finch properties over the next five years, New York State has purchased an additional 8,451 acres of former Finch lands in Fulton, Warren, Essex and Hamilton counties. The State will pay $5.7 million to acquire the tracts from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), using the State’s Environmental Protection Funds (EPF). Already, the state has completed two acquisition phases totaling 30,037 acres. The 14 new parcels contain miles of rivers and streams, ponds, wildlife habitat and trails, and offer exceptional opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, cross country skiing and mountain biking. The properties include:

  • Benson Road (a.k.a. Tomantown), which borders the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest, features habitat for black bear and bald eagles, regionally-rare plants like Canadian burnet, spruce northern hardwood forests, and connects snowmobile trails in the Towns of Mayfield and Bleeker. (Fulton County, 3,820 acres)
    Black Spruce Mountain, which is adjacent to the Lake George Wild Forest, features Black Spruce Mountain and a section of Podunk Brook. (Warren County, 191 acres)
    Township 33 (Sugarloaf Mt.), which features a section of the popular 120-mile Northville-Placid trail, as well as an exposed cliff. (Hamilton County, 451 acres)
    Good Luck Tract, which features northern hardwood and spruce-fir forests, will provide access to Stonystep and Big Bad Luck ponds. (Hamilton County, 418 acres)
    Buell Valley, which features Buell Brook and was once the site of the Finch Pruyn’s river drive pusher dam. (Hamilton County, 10 acres)
    Cedar Ridge features two small ponds and is adjacent to the Blue Ridge Wilderness, which hosts a major section of the Northville-Placid Trail. (Hamilton County, 548 acres)
    Blue Ridge Road, which can potentially provide enhanced recreational access to the Dix Mountain Wilderness. (Essex County, 77 acres)
    Hudson River Hyslop, near the state-run Harris Lake Campground, can potentially have improved access to Duck Hole. (Essex County, 301 acres)
    North River, which features floodplain and upland forests and more than one mile of Hudson River shorelines. This tract is located opposite the take-out area along State Route 28 used by commercial rafting companies for whitewater rafting through protected forests on the Indian and Hudson Rivers. (Essex and Warren Counties, 155 acres)

In addition to thousands of acres in the Adirondack Park, this phase of the land acquisition includes properties just south of the “blue line” in Saratoga County, favored for its mountain biking trails, hunting and other recreational activities. These properties — the Daniels Road tract (519 acres), the Penn York tract (241 acres) and the Town Line tract (176 acres) — also offer exceptional forest settings, attractive hilly terrain, wetlands, marshes and riparian habitats. In addition, the Town of Edinburg will be able to move forward with the acquisition of 1,248 acres on Fox Hill Road, and plans to improve outdoor recreation and snowmobile trails with a boardwalk over wetlands. Another 154 acres known as Town Corners will consolidate wetlands in Greenfield.

$875,000 in Grants for Recreational and Smart Growth Projects

New York’s Natural Heritage Trust (NHT), in conjunction with TNC and DEC, is offering grants to local municipalities to support the implementation of projects that will enhance public access to the acquired land. In addition, EPF grants will be available to advance smart growth principles of economic development and environmental protection. Specifically, these grants for community development in the Adirondack Park consist of:

  • $500,000 for Adirondack Park Upper Hudson Recreation Hub Grants program projects, including: seasonal shuttle service for hikers, bikers and paddlers; trailhead parking and waterway access on municipal lands; local infrastructure that supports such recreation uses as mountain biking, horse trail riding, snowmobiling and hiking; connector trails; hut-to-hut accommodations; guide services; and visitor orientation signs, apps and brochures. These grants are being funded by TNC and will be awarded through a Request for Proposals (RFP) to be announced this week in the NYS Contract Reporter and also on the DEC, TNC and NHT websites.
  • $300,000 from the EPF for the Adirondack Smart Growth grant program will support key projects to build on existing smart growth plans, including capital projects and community development initiatives that that foster sustainable development, environmental protection and community livability.

    A Request for Applications (RFA) is expected to be released in early spring. The Adirondack Smart Growth grant program will only be available through the new, statewide Grants Getaway, a web-based grants management system that can be used to browse all state agency grants available and anticipated grant opportunities. All applicants will need to register to use the gateway, and not-for-profit applicants are required to “pre-qualify” through the gateway for all grants opportunities. For additional information or to register for the program, visit the New York State Grants Reform website at www.grantsreform.ny.gov.

  • $75,000 to support paddling events, which builds on the success of the 2013 Adirondack Challenge, which led to increased tourism across the region. TNC is providing this initial funding for these events to support the ecological and recreational values of the Adirondacks’ freshwater resources and new opportunities associated with the former Finch lands. These events will be coordinated through the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council.

These programs advance the NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, which is an effort to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state and improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen. This includes the streamlining of fishing and hunting licensing, reducing license fees, and improving access for fishing and hunting at various sites across the state.

See also:

A gal getaway hiking New York’s Hudson River School Art Trail and slideshow

Getaway on the Hudson River School Art Trail: Thomas Cole National Historic Site and slideshow

Getaway on The Hudson River School Art Trail: Frederick Edwin Church’s Olana and slideshow

Journey by boat and bike along the Erie Canal: Macedon-Fairport-Pittsford and slideshow

Erie Canal journey by boat, bike: Exploring canaltowns from Pittsford to Albion and slideshow

Erie Canal journey: Albion-Medina bikeride is most scenic, illuminating and slideshow

Erie Canal journey by boat and bike: Palmyra, ‘Queen of Canal Towns’ and slideshow

New season of self-skippered canalboat cruises on New York’s historic Erie Canal (Photos)

Lake Placid, NYS’s winter resort, where you ski and bobsled like an Olympian and slideshow

Lake Placid remains New York’s quintessential winter destination and slideshow

Hiking Ausable Chasm, natural wonder in New York State’s Adirondack Mountains and slideshow

For more travel features, visit:

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

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New York State’s Path Through History Highlights Transportation Destinations, From the Erie Canal to Montauk Lighthouse

The Otisco, one of Mid-Lakes Navigation’s specially designed canalboats, journeys on the Erie Canal © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Two years ago, we took a houseboat on the Erie Canal to discover -by bike and boat – this fascinating and scenic destination, that brought us to charming towns that had helped turn America into an industrial and economic world power. It is one of the destinations that are part of the Governor’s Path Through History program, highlighting historically and culturally significant sites and events throughout New York State.

“From the untamed beauty of Niagara Falls, all along the Erie Canal, and on to the soaring peaks of the Adirondacks, New York State has a multitude of historic attractions that deserve a visit to experience,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our state has played a particularly important role in the development of transportation industries and technology, and the Path Through History program is a great way to appreciate them. Whatever your interests, New York is rich with incredible destinations that will make any trip around the Empire State an unforgettable experience.”

The Path Through History program makes it easy to explore the state’s canals and transportation history sites. Important in creating the Empire State we know today, Canals and Transportation is one of 13 themes that New York State is using to organize its 500-plus heritage sites. The program’s website provides additional information to plan an itinerary that includes site visits, and identifying markers on major state highways as well as local signage with a distinctive Path Through History logo to help point the way.

Here is a region-by-region sampling of the Canals and Transportation sites highlighted in the Path Through History program along with other fun ways to experience the history of transportation around the Empire State.

Central New York:
The town of Rome was the starting point for a canal system that eventually linked Manhattan with the developing American West. There the Erie Canal Village presents a reconstructed 19th century town complete with a schoolhouse, blacksmith and mule-drawn packet boat rides along the canal. In the town of Chittenango the sight of a 96-foot cargo boat under reconstruction at the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum puts the scale of the canal’s traffic in perspective. And in Canastota, the Canastota Canal Town Museum brings the history, folklore and engineering achievements of the canal into focus with artwork, artifacts and activities.

Canal buffs will also love Schoharie Crossing State Park in Fort Hunter, where remnants of all three eras of Erie Canal development are visible including a two-mile long segment of the original “Clinton’s Ditch.” The Fort Plain Museum and Historical Park in Fort Plain spotlights life along the Erie Canal circa 1820-1850, while The Black River Canal Museum in Boonville features a full-scale canal boat replica and conveys a sense of the engineering accomplishment involved in building the 109-lock Black River Canal. For more about the Central New York region, visit www.nyfun4u.com.

The Finger Lakes:
Canal adventures continue just beyond Palmyra in the historic town of Montezuma, where the Cayuga-Seneca Canal shoots off to connect the Erie Canal with 92 miles of the region’s rivers and lakes, including two of the beautiful Finger Lakes–Cayuga and Seneca. The canal-connected waterways and trails provide a relaxed-paced way to explore this sophisticated, rural region, acclaimed for its fine wines, artisanal food and natural beauty, while a number of museums recreate the era when canals put the region on the transportation grid.

In Syracuse, the Erie Canal Museum, housed in America’s only remaining weighlock building, is a hub for narrated sightseeing tours and canal boat charters. In Seneca Falls, the Seneca Falls Museum of Waterways and Industry offers a thought-provoking look at how the commerce and industrial growth powered by the canals helped to foster and spread social reform movements, including women’s rights.

The Finger Lakes also played a key role in aviation. The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport honors pioneer aviator Glenn Curtiss, who progressed from building bikes and motorcycles to planes, making the first official long distance flight in the U.S. He also built the first seaplanes for the U.S. Navy earning recognition as “the father of naval aviation.” Dedicated to the restoration of World War II and Korean War aircraft, the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum features informational displays as well as air shows at the Geneseo Airport. And in Elmira, the National Soaring Museum explores the challenge and history of motorless flight such as gliders.

Additionally, Canandaigua’s Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum, home to 19th century Postmaster General Gideon Granger, features a carriage museum with more than 100 horse-drawn carriages and offers carriage rides through historic downtown Canandaigua. Transportation by sea is the theme at the Sodus Bay Lighthouse and Maritime Museum at Sodus Point, where a climb to the lighthouse tower offers stunning views of Lake Ontario. For more about the region, visit www.fingerlakestravelny.com.

Greater Niagara:
The hundred mile footpath between Tonawanda, just outside Buffalo, to Newark in the Finger Lakes, has become a popular destination for hiking and biking. This westernmost segment of the Erie Canal is the longest continuous section of the Canalway Trail. Whether biking, boating or traveling by car, it’s fun to explore the nostalgic small town Main Streets, farmlands, lift bridges and multi-tier locks. As an added attraction, Niagara Falls is just a ten minute drive from Buffalo. The Pierce-Arrow Museum offers a unique collection of bicycles, automobiles, and memorabilia – many of which have a story entwined with that of Western New York’s communities at the turn of the 20th century. In Lockport, the triumph of building the canal is apparent. The town is built around two impressive five-lock staircases that move boats up the steep Niagara escarpment, which visitors can learn about at the new Erie Canal Discovery Center & Flight of Five.

More transportation history beckons at the Historic LeRoy House in LeRoy, which features more than 100 historic vehicles ranging from an ox-cart and antique bikes to a 1908 Cadillac. Naval enthusiasts will want to see the decommissioned U.S. Naval vessels, including the Cleveland-class cruiser USS Little Rock, the Fletcher-class destroyer USS The Sullivans and the submarine USS Croaker, at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park. Rail buffs will also find plenty to explore in the region, starting with the Medina Railroad Museum, a beautiful wooden freight depot filled with memorabilia and model trains, which offers train rides along the Canal. The Arcade & Attica Railroad runs steam and World War II-era diesel engines from its historic station in Arcade. The station itself is a museum with everything from antique railroad lanterns to switch locks along with original photographs. For more about the region, visit www.greaterniagara.com.

The Hudson Valley:
Before paved roads and railroads became commonplace, rivers were America’s highways, as visitors learn at the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston, which features visiting and resident steam tug boats, ice cutters and other vessels as well as the environmental-education vessel, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and a display on Hudson River lighthouses. The region also is home to Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Highland that crosses the Hudson atop the former Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge. When the 6,768-foot bridge opened in 1888 it was an engineering marvel thought to be the world’s longest bridge in its day. Today, visitors come to walk, skate or bike across the pedestrian bridge as they admire the stunning views of the river more than 200 feet below. Additionally, the Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh offers over 400 historic motorcycles, some dating back as far as the beginning of the 20th century.

You can also retrace the footsteps of the artists who drew their inspiration from the Hudson River Valley and the Catskills, along the Hudson River School Art Trail.

For more about the region, visit www.hudsonvalley.org.

The Adirondacks:
This region of high peaks and whitewater rivers also had a brief brush with car manufacturing. Today, the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum in Plattsburgh is housed in a factory that produced exquisite Lazier Motor Company automobiles and race cars from 1905 to 1910. The museum has expanded its scope to celebrate the region’s rich transportation history through its collection of vintage automobiles, boats and trains. Kid-friendly exhibits include a Vulcan Locomotive that kids can climb around and more than 750 Diecast model cars, trucks, boats, airplanes, tractors and fire trucks. The museum also provides transportation on the replica Sail Ferry Westerwax to the Bluff Point Lighthouse, which still operates and includes displays about the lighthouse itself and the ecology and history of the area. For more about the region, visit www.visitadirondacks.com.

Capital-Saratoga:
The Capital-Saratoga region produced trains, and the ALCO Heritage Museum in Schenectady, currently closed for renovations, aims to share the history of the American Locomotive Company (ALCO), which built steam and diesel locomotives. The Saratoga & North Creek Railway boasts vintage cars that make multiple stops along the Hudson River and offers breathtaking views of the Adirondacks. The cars are also kitchen-equipped to provide fresh meals prepared to order.

Vintage car lovers will also enjoy the Saratoga Automobile Museum. For more about the region, visit www.capital-saratoga.com.

The Catskills:
About 150 years ago, before the era of cars, train service opened up the Catskills and spawned an era of grand hotels and friendly guest houses. Although roads have displaced trains as the route into the region, several vintage trains still operate as tourist attractions. The Esopus Scenic Train, which departs from Mt. Tremper, stops at a 1900’s railroad depot, now home to the Path through History’s Empire State Railway Museum. The important role of river travel is the focus of tours (reserve in advance) at the working Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, located between the towns of Athens and Hudson. For more about the region, go to www.visitthecatskills.com.

Chautauqua-Allegheny:
One of the brightest lights shining on Lake Erie emanates from the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse in Dunkirk. The 61-foot tall lighthouse, established in 1826, continues to guide sailors navigating Lake Erie. The lighthouse was automated in 1960 but still uses its original 1875 Fresnel lens. Guides here tell tales of the many shipwrecks off the coast and take visitors up the Lighthouse’s spiral stairs to the upper observation level, the restored 1800 lighthouse keeper’s home and a museum with nautical displays and military memorabilia; new this year are ghost tours.

You can also enjoy the Salamanca Rail Museum in the town of Salamanca, where a restored 1912 passenger depot uses artifacts, photos and video to paint a picture of the days when rail was the main way to travel from city to city. The station’s rich red oak wainscoting and two-story skylit ceiling have been restored based on the original architectural plans and include authentic nostalgic touches such as the “Ladies Retiring Room” sign and the telegraph machine in the ticket office. For more about the Chautauqua-Allegheny region, visit www.visitwesternny.com.

New York City:
New York City can proudly claim the Brooklyn Bridge, the first steel-wire suspension bridge in the world and the longest of its day, and the landmark Beaux-Art Grand Central Terminal, celebrating its centennial this year with exhibits, events and an audio tour among its transportation icons. Not surprisingly, the city is also home to one of the world’s premier museums devoted to urban public transportation history. The New York Transit Museum, housed in a former 1936 subway station in Brooklyn Heights with an annex at Grand Central Terminal, explores the development and importance of public transportation. And for one of the best values in the city, residents and visitors can enjoy the views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Manhattan skyline on a free Staten Island Ferry ride between the tip of Manhattan and Staten Island. For more about New York City, visit www.nycgo.com

Long Island:
Authorized by Congress in 1792, the Montauk Point Lighthouse has been part of Long Island’s land and seascape for over 200 years and its 100-foot tall tower still serves as an active aid to navigation. Tours of this National Historic Landmark include a visit to the former keepers’ dwelling, containing the apartments of the head keeper and his two assistant keepers; the Fire Control Station, a tower built during World War II which served as part of the extensive East Coast Defense Shield and the lighthouse tower itself, completed in 1796. Long Island’s seafaring past is also vividly portrayed at two wonderful museums: the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum, set an 1845 Greek Revival whale ship owner’s mansion, and the Long Island Maritime Museum in West Sayville, where maritime history comes to life on a sail aboard a landmark historic vessel (reserve in advance) and visits to landmark homes.

Transportation also looms large at the Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages in Stony Brook, which has over 200 horse-drawn carriages and other rare artifacts from the era. Admired for their beauty and craftsmanship, the carriages reflect an important part of America’s industrial and transportation history. Long Island also played key roles in aviation history, as visitors learn at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City. Here visitors learn how Long Island’s flat terrain at the edge of the nation made it a natural launch point for aviation pioneers including Charles Lindbergh, as well as a center for large commercial and World War II plane producers such as Grumman. For more about the area, visit www.discoverlongisland.com

The Thousand Islands-Seaway:
Boldt Castle, Singer Island and many of the region’s most famous sites date back to the late 19th and early 20th century when the area became popular with America’s wealthy industrialists. Then as now, many popular tourist destinations, including some eye-popping mansions-turned-museums, were accessible only by boat, conveying a sense of the importance of water travel to the region. More than 300 finely-crafted boats and thousands of boating artifacts can be seen at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton. And the Tibbet’s Point Lighthouse in nearby Cape Vincent features its original working Fresnel lens along with a telescope for surveying. The lighthouse also offers hostel lodgings for those who want to overnight. In Oswego, the H. Lee White Marine Museum displays Native American dugout canoes and other boats. For more about the area, visit www.visit1000islands.com

About Path Through History
Path Through History highlights historically and culturally significant sites and events throughout New York State. The program, introduced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, builds on New York’s already robust heritage tourism attractions. The initiative is currently focused on 13 themes including: Arts & Culture, Natural History, U.S. Presidents, Women’s Rights, Canals & Transportation, Civil Rights, Colonial History, Immigration, Innovation & Commerce, The Revolutionary War, Native American Heritage, Sports History and the War of 1812. Important heritage sites and events across the state were selected with input from leading historians. For more information, visit http://paththroughhistory.ny.gov/.

Each week, I LOVE NEW YORK social media channels will highlight one theme from Path Through History, featuring photos, videos, event itineraries and more to showcase the rich history of New York State. Follow I LOVE NEW YORK on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or use #LoveNYHistory to join us on the journey down New York’s Path Through History.

Follow I LOVE NEW YORK on social media:
Facebook: Facebook.com/ILOVENY
Twitter: @I_LOVE_NY
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For more information, visit http://www.iloveny.com.

See also:

A gal getaway hiking New York’s Hudson River School Art Trail and slideshow

Getaway on the Hudson River School Art Trail: Thomas Cole National Historic Site and slideshow

Getaway on The Hudson River School Art Trail: Frederick Edwin Church’s Olana and slideshow

Journey by boat and bike along the Erie Canal: Macedon-Fairport-Pittsford and slideshow

Erie Canal journey by boat, bike: Exploring canaltowns from Pittsford to Albion and slideshow

Erie Canal journey: Albion-Medina bikeride is most scenic, illuminating and slideshow

For more travel features, visit:

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Twitter: @TravelFeatures

From Saranac Lake 6 to CATS Trails on Lake Champlain, Adirondacks of Northern NYS Offer Unparalleled Hiking

The Adirondack Region of New York, which boasts the largest trail system in the state, winding more than 2,000 miles through mountains, rivers and lakes, offers unparalleled hiking experiences for all abilities. From the newly crowned “Saranac Six,” to the Champlain Area Trails system (CATS), now is the time to get outside and explore in the Adirondack Mountains

The CATS trails, located along the coast of Lake Champlain, offer some new hiking experiences up Boquet Mountain, around Beaver Flow and through the Splitrock Wild Forest. Find easy-to-moderate hiking trails perfect for families with children. The Saranac Lake Six, a new hiking challenge for visitors to the Adirondacks, kicked off the summer hiking season in May, challenging hikers to conquer six of the highest peaks in the Adirondack Lakes Region. Complete all six and become an official “6er.” Climb all six and one day and earn one of the first spots on the “Ultra 6er” list.

With a total ascent of more than 18,000’, the Saranac Lake Six present a challenging hiking experience for a weekend or summer spent in the Adirondacks. They are:

  • McKenzie Mountain – the tallest 6er and the longest trail at 10.6 miles round-trip, begin at the trailhead located on NYS Route 86 between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.
  • Ampersand Mountain – its bald summit offers panoramic views. Begin the 5.4 miles round-trip hike at the trailhead located on Route 3 between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake.
  • Scarface Mountain – a moderate 6.8 mile round-trip hike, with great views of the lakes, the trailhead is located on Old Ray Brook Road, just 0.1 miles from Route 86 in Ray Brook.
  • St. Regis Mountain – offers a steep climb to the summit crowned by an old fire tower. Begin the 6.6 mile round-trip hike at the trailhead located on Keese Miles Road.
  • Haystack Mountain – located about half-way along the McKenzie Mountain trail, Haystack offers 180-degree views and is 6.6 miles round-trip.
  • Mount Baker – one of the quickest yet steepest trails at 1.8 miles round-trip. The trailhead is located on Moody Pond Road in Saranac Lake.

Experience the thrill of discovery on an Adirondack hiking trail and find unique attractions and family-friendly outdoor recreation. In each Adirondack Region, adventure can be found at trailheads, summits and on winding paths that lead into the unknown.

Some of this summer’s top hiking adventures in the Adirondacks include:

Canoe and Climb at Valcour Island on the Adirondack Coast of Lake Champlain. From the town of Peru’s boat launch on Lake Champlain, sea kayak for one mile across Lake Champlain to Valcour Island. Distinguished by the historic lighthouse that rises from its shores, the island was the site of the first naval battle during the Revolutionary War. More than 7 miles of hiking trails circle the island, winding along cliffs, around a heron rookery, stopping at sand beaches and sheltered bays. Crossing conditions can be dangerous for amateur paddlers, so consider joining a guided paddling trip to the island with the staff from The Kayak Shack in Plattsburgh.

Furry Fun for Families at Up Yonda Farm in the Lake George Region offers a different kind of hiking excursion, one that includes wildlife exhibits, nature programs, bee-keeping and more. Up Yonda is a 72-acre facility in Bolton Landing offering lessons on honey-bees, trees, butterflies, planets and constellations, as well as wild things like turtles and newts. Enjoy wildlife viewing and bird watching, and hike trails that wind through fields, meadows, old forests and even a cemetery. There is a small fee, around $4 per person, to join in any one of the public programs. Up Yonda offers visitors the chance to connect with the living animals and plants of the Adirondacks while enjoying the great outdoors.

The Waterfall Challenge in the Adirondack Wild Region takes visitors to the heart of the Adirondack Park and explores the cascading waterfalls of Hamilton County. Home to the greatest number of waterfalls in the region, the Adirondack Wild offers pristine hiking to some of the most breathtaking waterfalls on the east coast. To begin, download the waterfall hike guide for detailed trail instructions. Complete the waterfall challenge brochure and submit the information to Hamilton County Tourism to receive a waterfall challenge patch.

Horseback Riding and Hiking in the Adirondacks Tug Hill Region’s Otter Creek Trail System. One of the only recreational areas of its kind in the Adirondacks, Otter Creek is a series of interlocking horse and hiking trails that wind for nearly 65 miles through woodlands, around backcountry ponds and rambling rivers. Primitive camping is available at a designated assembly area located in the Independence River State Forest area. Accommodations for those traveling with horses include 100 roofed stalls, two stud stalls as well as a potable water system for everyone.

Bushwhacking the Backcountry in the Lake Placid Region takes skill and a fair bit of planning – though the rewards are expansive views and a notch in your belt for tackling some of the most remote peaks in the Adirondack Mountains. Bag a couple peaks in Wilmington – also home of Whiteface Mountain Downhill Bike Center – such as Morgan Mountain and Wilmington Peak. Both trails are less than 5 miles round-trip, yet challenge hikers to use orienteering skills, hack through underbrush and scramble across difficult and often steep terrain.

In the Adirondack Seaway Region, Stone Valley Recreation Area in Colton offers a moderate hiking trek across 7.5 miles of trails. Follow the historic Raquette River and glimpse whitewater rapids, waterfall gorges and rock ledges. Watch for adventurous kayakers shooting the rapids during the spring and summer months.

The Adirondack Region is a six-million-acre park offering limitless recreation amid 2,000 miles of hiking trails and 3,000 lakes and ponds. Part of the largest temperate forest in the world, the Adirondacks are also home to 103 towns and villages. Connect with the Adirondacks on Facebook.com/visitadirondacks or Twitter.com/visitadks. Search Adirondack events, attractions and Adirondack vacation packages at VisitAdirondacks.com.

For more travel features, visit:

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Twitter: @TravelFeatures