Thursday, June 28, 2018

Black Bear Mountain
View from Black Bear Mountain. Some of the High Peaks are in this view.

I remember my first time hiking up Black Bear Mountain. I did not have much experience hiking mountains, which made the climb a little intimidating.   Like many hikes, people gave me their opinions of this mountain trail and some descriptions made it sound extremely hard, like they were lucky they survived the day. Others claimed it was easy. But everyone agreed that it was a nice day trip. I figured I’d just have to do it and see for myself.  

After signing in at the trail register, my dog and I started a lovely walk up through the woods.  It was fall and the trail was vibrant with oranges, browns, reds, and warm golden tones.

The beginning of this trail is an easy gradual incline that is hardly even noticed.  Some spots were muddy, but the trail is well marked and easy to follow. The joke among my hiking friends and me is, “You haven’t really been on a true Adirondack hike unless you come back with muddy boots.”  

 The trail came to a “Y” and I decided to take the right turn and follow the yellow trail discs.  This way is the harder of the two ways up, but shorter (3.8 miles round trip).  If you decide to go straight and follow the blue disc markers, you will find it an easier climb, but muddier and longer (4.4 miles round trip). Or you may decide to do the two trails as a loop making it a 6.3 mile trip.

 I continued to enjoy the delightful woods and flat wide trail with some muddy spots. Eventually, the trail began a rockier, but not difficult, gradual incline. When I looked up at the rock boulders closer to the top, I thought they looked huge, but I managed to scramble and pull myself up. It was well worth the climb as I admired the beautiful view.




The trail actually goes to the right of this, so you can avoid this scary looking boulder.
Since that first time, I have been up Black Bear many times.  I have since had the experience of harder mountains; I am surprised at how much easier it now seems.  But the view from the summit still amazes me. On clear days you can see some of the high peaks off in the distance.
 Lately, I had the chance to take a friend up Black Bear Mountain for her first time hiking to the top. It was marvelous all over again as I saw her astonishment and appreciation of the scenic view.

Black Bear Mountain’s parking area is located on Route 28, between Inlet and Eagle Bay. The parking area is part of an old road paralleling the highway and it is a shared parking area for Rocky Mountain.

The sign for Black Bear Mt. on the side of Route 28.



Friday, May 11, 2018


Why wait? Spring is here! Six Must-Dos in Old Forge

Like the rest of the North Country, Old Forge has wrestled itself free of winter’s snow and ice. We had a great season of skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling, and it seems winter itself had so much fun that it did not want to let go. Old Forge is now brimming with rushing water, popping buds and springtime events and activities. The 20th annual Adirondack Paddlefest is first on the calendar, May 18,19, and  20, presented by Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company. Mountainman owner John Nemjo created Paddlefest as the kick-off event of paddling season, and it now has bragging rights as “the largest on-water canoe, kayak and SUP sale in the country.” Spring weather can be iffy, but Paddlefest has hosted thousands of paddlers in sunshine, showers, heat and even snow. There are free demonstrations and excursions, as well as free parking and shuttles.  But the star feature of Paddlefest is the “Try before you buy” paddling. One ticket gets you on or in new gear all weekend. For more information, visit the Mountainman website at
Photo of Paddlefest taken by Michael Farmer

Old Forge, the Paddling Capital of the Adirondacks, has plenty more inviting us to celebrate springtime.  The knowledgeable and capable guides at local outfitter ARO Adventures are happy to provide exciting whitewater rafting action.  ARO, New York’s largest rafting company, has been treating paddlers to whitewater fun for 34 years on the Moose, the Hudson, and the Black rivers. Spring is big water adventure-class action on the Moose River in Old Forge and the world renowned Hudson River Gorge. In late spring the Black River opens and continues throughout the summer with family friendly tours. To view all ARO trip options, visit the ARO website at
photo credit: Kurt Gardner
The Town of Webb mountain bike trails are now unfrozen, and ready for some great pedaling! And some areas have just the right amount of mud from spring runoff. The bike loops designated throughout the Webb Trail System provide double-track backcountry riding between Old Forge, Eagle Bay and Big Moose. Looking for single-track? The Maple Ridge trails lead from the TOBIE Trail in Old Forge (pictured below, left) and connect to the McCauley Mountain trail system, with a flow trail and beginner single track riding. Get a free map at the Visitor Information Center in Old Forge, or download a map from our website at
photo taken by Michael Farmer
photo credit: Kurt Gardner

 Weather doesn’t always do what we want it to do, but don’t let inclement weather keep you from having fun. Old Forge has many shops and restaurants gearing up and ready for visitors. Visit our website to see upcoming local events and get a list of great restaurants, unique Adirondack shops, accommodations, and more!
photo taken by Michael Farmer

  The Strand Theatre is way more than just a movie theater. With its unique vintage building and displays of film making equipment and memorabilia, it’s a film history museum.  Come in and enjoy a variety of movie choices on one of the four screens, often opening at the same time as premiers in NYC.  For a list of what’s showing, visit   


photo credit: Kurt Gardner

 These are just six of the many possibilities for spring time fun! Every week of the new season there are new opportunities popping up!




Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Making Memories While Cross-Country Skiing

~Article written and pictures taken by 
Linda Grace 
Publicity Clerk, Old Forge Visitor Information Center

I have had the feeling of gliding inside a snow globe, when cross-country skiing at the Thendara Golf Course on a clear blue day.  The open sky allows the sun to glitter through the tree-lined course and reflects off the white, untouched snow.  But the day that my friends and I head out, it is not a picture-perfect day.  It wasn’t too cold, but the skies were grey and less than ideal, but you don’t need a perfect day to have a great adventure.  Fun and friendship were calling and the display of the sky and landscape gave us a magical feeling.

We decided to be ambitious and cover both loops which add up to about three miles of fairly easy to moderate skiing.  We started out on the left trail heading to the upper nine. This is the easier loop of the two and it is a perfect run for beginners and families. It winds along the outer perimeter of the golf course with a few small hills. This is all open and on windy days, there is virtually nothing to block the wind. But on calm or mild days, like the one my friend and I were enjoying, the open landscape can give you a freeing sensation.

One time, I did this loop with a beginner skier.  She said that this loop was good place to start since it was groomed real well and fairly flat. She said, "The beauty and tranquil quiet...(the fact that) there is no worry an embarrassing fall or another skier running you over.  This is a perfect place for a first attempt..."

My favorite loop is on the lower nine. It is the trail that heads right (east), from the parking area. This trail is longer at about 1.75 miles with a few easy ups and downs, which provides thrills on the downhill launches. My friends and I laughed as we whooshed down the first of these hills and my dog chased playfully alongside me.  We become quiet and spell-bound while skiing among the wonderful snow covered spruce trees and then back out in the open where we could see the expansive sky and landscape. It is truly a trail that gives you the best of both worlds. 

We breathed in the fresh crisp air as we followed the trail as it overlooks the nearby Moose River and its snow-covered bridge.  We talked about summer when we paddled down the Moose River and used the bridge for a canoe/kayak carry around the rapids.  Such conversations of summer reminiscing mingle in with the many winter adventures which have been made while skiing on the golf course.  

We glided around a bend, flew down another small slope and then raced up the next hill. Sometimes, when we are in the present, we do not realize that we are making a memory that will be cherished again and again. But, somehow, I became aware that this IS one of those moments that I will hold dear.  
The Moose River Bridge

To get to the Thendara Golf course from Old Forge, drive south on Route 28 and turn right on Fifth Street. Although it is free to ski here, these ski loops are groomed by a local volunteer, and donations are welcome and appreciated. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

~Written by Linda Grace~
{formally Linda M. Heistman}
Publicity Clerk, Old Forge
Visitor Information Center

Picture by Kurt Gardner

On Monday, we received our first significant snowfall (up to six inches in some areas). This snow was soft and not quite right for cross-country skiing yet, but Monday night’s cold temperatures created a thin layer of ice on Old Forge Pond. The frigid air is also starting to drive the frost into the ground. It got me thinking of how, very soon, we will see conditions for early season winter recreation including snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. 

The crisp, cool air brought me to life as I shoveled the snow off my front steps. I thought of how wonderful it feels to glide along on skis, breathing in clean, fresh air and taking in the snow-covered beauty of the landscape. I am longing for the side to side skating motion and the through the woods and up a hill workout. I am also looking forward to the fun of snowshoeing -- a great way to take a hike in the winter.

Picture by Michael Farmer

I pictured the well-groomed trails where many happy memories of skiing or snowshoeing have been created and will provide many more fun times ahead. I dreamed of the beautiful Thendara Golf Course with its snow globe-like, wide-open views of the sky and trees. It offers fairly easy to moderate skiing and beside-the-trail snowshoeing. It is a great spot for family recreation. 

Picture by Kurt Gardner

Maple Ridge offers the skier or snowshoer groomed trails that lead through the wonderland of snow-covered woods. The sparkling sun shining through snowy pines makes it seem like you are moving through a magical fairyland.  These trails also offer some historical interest and the terrain is up and down making this adventure a little more challenging. 

Picture by Michael Farmer

The approaching winter will soon be a reality and I have my skis and snowshoes all ready to go! How about you?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Stillwater Fire Tower

 ~Article written and pictures taken by Linda Grace,
Publicity Clerk, Old Forge Visitor Information Center.
I find it quite fascinating that Verplanck Colvin was out surveying all over the Adirondacks, even before there were any decent roads. He was the one who oversaw the building of the first wooden Stillwater Fire Tower in 1882. Colvin was a pioneer in both exploration and in conservation. While tree cutting and the lumber industry were still destroying our woods and clogging up the waterways, Colvin was one of the leaders trying to protect, restore, and preserve our wilderness areas.

Colvin’s original wooden fire tower on Stillwater Mountain was replaced by another wooden fire tower in 1912. Then in 1919 the steel fire tower was built, and this is the one that still stands on Stillwater Mountain today. But in 1988, the tower was closed because it was in need of repairs.

In 2009, the restoration process of the historic fire tower began. It was reopened in 2016, with amazing results. The tower offers views that boast sights of some of the high peaks to the east, and the wind towers of Tug Hill to the west.  It is educational as well. In the cab at the top of the tower is a very helpful map, with a pointer that helps sightseers know what they are looking at. The corners of the inside of the cab are marked with each direction - east, west, south, and north.  
Many hard-working volunteers, The Friends of Stillwater Mountain, and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have truly made this a great monument.

The best part about this tower is that it’s a very easy 2-mile round-trip hike, making it an adventure that the whole family can enjoy.

You can find this fire tower trail by turning off of Route 28 onto Big Moose Road  in Eagle Bay, NY. Drive all the way to Big Moose, to where the pavement ends and a backcountry dirt road begins. This dirt road has a sign that reads “Stillwater 10 mi”. 
Where the pavement ends and the dirt road begins
Follow this road about 7.5 miles to the trailhead parking on the left. This trip will be a good memory, but it does take some planning to do it, as it is about a half hour to 45 minute drive from the beginning of the Big Moose Road to the trailhead.
Trailhead for Stillwater tower