Elizabeth Lee

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I work at home when I’m not in the field, and a day at my desk in a drafty corner can make me hunch and shiver and cramp. I need a break and even the shortest of ski outings can increase productivity and improve my frame of mind. The lack of snow this week was a challenge, but I was successful in finding two great snowy destinations that fit my schedule and my level of inspiration.

Hidden Quarry Trail

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Coot Hill and Big Hollow

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Some time ago Chris Maron, CATS' Executive Director, told me that this spot has a great view--one that's different from the vantage points I'm used to. He was absolutely right. Located in Crown Point, Coot Hill is a new trail on the Champlain Area Trails map. With a name like Coot Hill I had to check out this destination.

Getting to Coot Hill

From Port Henry I...

Looking for a great hike to fit into a busy vacation?  Last weekend I hiked one of the nicest peaks in the area. Joined by Sophie Gagnon and her companion from Dunham, Quebec I set out to show my visitors as much as I could of the Ticonderoga area. The easiest way to do that is to get up high and see the lay of the land from above.

B & B Breakfast 

I started the morning by picking Sophie and Denis up at...

Favorite hike on a favorite day - National Trails Day

Each year the first Saturday in June is designated as National Trails Day. There were lots of local celebrations underway last weekend but I decided to do a quick hike on my own to a favorite destination I have frequently done with children--Mount Gilligan. The name itself sounds fun.

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Spring Brings Wildflowers on The Grand Hike

Yesterday I hiked fourteen miles, beginning just up the hill from home. Thanks to the Champlain Area Trails I was able to hike from the Westport Hotel and Tavern to the...

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Lake Champlain is a big attraction in the Adirondacks through every season. The lake dictates weather, moods, activities and gear. This winter has been a wild one. Each week Lake Champlain has had a completely different character. I walk my dog to the boat...

[img:crystal-forest.jpg]Family Fun along the Adirondack Coast

Here's a little chronicle of my family's recent picks of outdoor fun.  When you have ice you have to go with it.

Most of what we love is free and local, making for easy, family vacation time. Despite cold temperatures we needed to get outside and exercise to justify our caloric intake (!).  You all...

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Snowshoeing the Black Kettle Trail

Last week before the ice came I had a great hike with my daughters who are both home for a few weeks.  They love to get outside after months in urban places so we take every chance we can to check out the woods. The snow last week was fluffy and light and every little crystal was twinkling because the temperature was so low (16 degrees when we left the car) and the sun...

[img:wildwayoverlookglade.jpg]This morning the wind was blowing like fury and the temperature was 16 degrees but I needed to go outside.  After spending a day at my desk yesterday I was ready for some fresh air. I'm spoiled and have my pick of the entire Champlain Valley and Eastern Adirondacks right out the door but today I headed for a favorite overlook with an easy retreat if the wind proved too hostile.

I bundled up and donned my...

[img:trailhead.jpg]The fall colors keep tempting me to fit little hikes in between appointments and events.  I love going back to see what's new on a trail I haven't seen for a few months. This week I hiked the Homestead Trail.  It's a CATS trail in Whallonsburgh that starts .75 mile from the Leaning Road, just west of Black Kettle Farm.

The trailhead begins heading south from...

[img:grey-dogwood.jpg] This week I hiked the Rocky Ledges Trail of the CATS system. It starts at an inconspicous trailhead on the Leaning Road in Essex, just south of the Jersey Street bridge over the Boquet River.  The trail begins in what was once a meadow and I quickly came to an apple tree that had probably belonged to a former farm.  You don't usually see apples under pine trees but there were pretty yellow apples all over the ground...

The trail up to the top of Treadway Mountain passes through several habitats but my favorite sections are the sloping, rocky, ledges with shallow pockets of soil that have a beautiful array of mosses.  Around the edges there are flowering shrubs and pine trees that give the scenery the feeling of Japanese rock gardens. [img:open-ledges.jpg]

The quickest way to...

No, bastard toadflax isn't profanity from a peak bagger with road-rage. It's a wildflower. Comandra umbellata to be exact. Actually the USDA plant data base calls it a "subshrub."  It's starting to bloom right now on many of the Champlain Hills.  Catchy name if you ask me.

[img:boquet-trail.jpg]Yesterday I got out of a meeting in Essex early so on the way home I decided to check out the Wildway...

[img:ground-cedar.jpg]This week when thunderstorms were threatening just about every hour I cancelled two trips and it never stormed. By Thursday I decided to brave the forecast.  I had planned to bike or paddle but in light of the thunder that was predicted I opted for low elevation and good canopy at the Blueberry Trails in Elizabethtown.  I've been working with two young hikers on completing the entire...

This is it--the big week of the year for ephemeral wildflowers.  The show has been building and it's full-on flowers right now. Every color and every size and shape. [img:goldthread.jpg]

These flowers show themselves for such a short time you have to take advantage of every chance you get to see them. The forest seems like a deliberately designed garden in places.  I guess that shouldn't seem surprising...

Who would think a former landfill site could be a hiking destination? Last Saturday I hiked Cheney Mountain from the lower parking area on the Pelfershire Road, about 1mile from NYS Rte 9N between Westport and Moriah. The leaves still hadn't opened so it was a bumper day for views.[img:cheney-view-north.jpg]

Cheney has been described as being the shape of a bread loaf. You climb up one end and hike around on the top. On the way up you...

In the days after the bombings at the Boston Marathon I needed the woods. Walking in the forest relaxes and quiets me. The spring is starting late this year but the hope of finding wildflowers made me lace my boots faster than usual. On Sunday I walked the Woods and Swale Trail, one of the CATS trails that will eventually link Westport to...

What a day and what a destination! Yesterday I took a group to the Crown Point State Historic Site for an adventure that definitely made history for us. I selected the spot because the snow conditions had the potential to be sticky but we wanted a crack at some skiing if...

A lucky late winter stash of snow.

As the weather gets warmer the search for snow gets more creative. Last week I hit it perfectly at the Penfield Homestead Museum trail, a nice trip of about 2 miles each way that starts in Crown Point and ends in Ticonderoga.

Coming from Crown Point the Penfield Homestead Museum is at the top of Creek Road in the hamlet of Ironville. Just before the white buildings there is a quick left...

This winter keeps coming and going. This morning there was sunshine all over wet, spring snow but a week ago it was still blustery, dry and truly winter. I spent the duration of the last storm at my desk and finally came up for fresh air and exercise. Having an errand at Full and By Farm, the CSA where I have a share, I decided to try the trail nearest the farm. The trail...

Last Monday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. I saw a break in my desk work and knew I needed some outdoor time. My daughter and I headed for the Bobcat Trail in Wadhams knowing we only had about 90 minutes of daylight. The Bobcat Trail is one of the early ones cut by Champlain Area Trails and it's really satisfying to hike or ski. There is easy parking at the bend on Ferris Road. The trail begins up...

On Christmas Day I had a spectacular hike up Coon Mountain in Westport. This is one of the destinations closest to my home and to my heart. I was joined by one brother, one sister, one daughter, one niece and two dogs. The day was as perfect as you could ask for—frosty, sunny and clear. The half hour immediately prior to the hike was a blur of transition from flannel...

In under ten minutes from every guest lodging you can be on trails that have all the features of much more remote places.

The Blueberry Hill Trails are a network of fun, short sections, most of which have a gentle grade. The few steep sections raise your heart rate as every community recreation and fitness trail system should but they are short enough not to discourage anyone. There's a...