Leaf Peeping on Two Wheels

The Adirondacks is one of the most spectacular places in the world to see the leaves change. People from all over the world travel to set foot where the mountain peaks touch the sky, to absorb the vibrant splashes of color painted across the vast Adirondack mountainscape.  

It was early October and the leaves were just starting to change; I was heading out the door on a foggy fall morning for a long bike ride. The plan: bike to Westport from Lake Placid. I love the Northeast, especially when the air turns from hot and humid to cool and crisp. It’s an instant splash of rejuvenation, the sensation of change.

On the road

Autumn biking takes a bit more preparation than summer biking, but it is worth it! My recommendation for biking in 40-50 degree weather is warm socks, bike shoe covers, cold weather biking tights with a bib (I personally like the bib because it adds an extra layer of warmth to the core), moisture wicking top, long sleeve bike jacket, a buff for around your neck and one for over the ears under your helmet, and bike gloves. 

The morning I embarked on my journey, the temperature was cold and energizing. I would make my way through the mountains to Lake Champlain, taking in the spectacular scenery of the changing seasons. I have biked thousands of miles in the Adirondacks, but I had yet to bike to Westport. Truth be told, I have never been to Westport at all, and I was excited to experience it by bike.

I left Lake Placid on Route 73, and the views of the Cascade lakes on the way to Keene were a pleasure to behold. This time of year, it is even more difficult to keep your eyes on the road instead of off into the distant, colorful mountains. I arrived in Keene made it to my favorite intersection in the entire Adirondacks, where Route 73 and 9 meet next to a lovely meadow. Standing in this spot during autumn, you may begin to forget you are in real life and feel like you are standing deep amid a plein air painting.

The Adirondacks are infamous for its challenging Ironman bike course. The truth is, that isn’t the only route in the Adirondacks will test your legs, if a cahllenge is what you're looking for. The incline on Route 9 from Keene Valley to Elizabethtown is no joke; the steady climb is worth every peddle to the smooth downhill cruise the rest of the way. 

Fall on the Adirondack Coast

The scenery from Keene to Westport changes, with the road narrowly winding through the mahogany, golden brown, yellow, red, and orange vegetation. As I continued to get closer to Westport I began to feel the presence of the vast lake that awaited ahead. I rounded the top of the last hill and could now see Lake Champlain in the distance. A feeling of gratitude washed over me, the realization that my legs alone got me all the way to Lake Champlain from Lake Placid.

Arriving in the quaint, quiet town of Westport, I stopped for a moment to take it all in. I biked down to the waterfront, where the ducks played in the bay, with the boats put to rest for the season. Fall is the time for everyone and everything to pack up and get ready for winter. It is beautiful this time of year. The calm, the quiet, the colors — it is what fall is, and it isn’t quite comprehendible until you experience it in person. 

Fall will always be my favorite time of year. There is something so unique, so special about autmun in the Adirondacks — to be present while the earth is transforming, turning from one stage of life to the next, reminds me I am alive. It tells me that I am human, that I go through changes, and that I myself bloom, shed, transform, close off, open-up, and grow, just as the cycle of the seasons do. Just as the bears are filling up on apples in preparation to hibernate. The caterpillars creating and settling into their cocoons to be reborn to a whole new world. The sun setting behind the mountains earlier in the day. The leaves turning bright shades of yellow, red, and orange. The once vibrant green of summer now an entirely different backdrop. It allows me to slow down, to be a part of nature; allowing myself to be a part of the changing season as well. It reminds me that when I take away everything in life that keeps me so busy, I too am a part of nature.  

The changes fall brings are refreshing and cleansing. The earth is shedding its layers, and I feel blessed to be able to live in an area where I get to experience seasonal transitions, where I can head out of my front door and end up 35 miles away from home by bike, with my own two legs, to a whole new place.

On the way back to Lake Placid, it was time to grab some lunch  — I was ready to eat! I had always heard about the Baxter Mountain Tavern & Grill, just outside of Keene Valley on Route 9 heading toward Elizabethtown, and I decided that it was time to check it out. The restaurant alone is worth the trip. It is across the road from Baxter Mountain. The views from the dining room engulf you with fall colors. It is your quintessential, old-fashioned, mom-and-pop type of dining that makes you feel right at home after a long workout on the bike. The menu had an array of options, from warm hearty dishes to healthy salads. I went for a hot cup of coffee and the bacon, blue cheese salad with chicken. It hit the spot and was the perfect way to top off the day.

If you are planning to head to the Adirondacks for leaf season, get out on your bike and take a tour of the Lake Champlain region! Be sure to stop in our many small towns and dont forget to eat along the way.


This week in ADK news:

This is how we roll

It's peak time

A spook-tacular town

Get your winter on, soon

Trailing ahead

A welcomed rain check

Ghost towns and other facts

Dinner at the Deer's Head
What Lurks Below