Opportunities abound in Central Adirondacks

INDIAN LAKE – This small town in the heart of the Adirondacks is set to be the centerpiece of the Adirondack Challenge Festival this weekend.

The event will feature invitational whitewater races on the Indian River, a flatwater canoe and kayak race on Indian Lake and activities throughout the hamlet. Leading up to this weekend, there have also been activities in the surrounding towns.

The prime reason for having this event is to show off some of the recreational opportunities in the region, hoping that the attention will boost local tourism.

Personally, I’ve had the opportunity to visit some of the lands and waters that are in the spotlight.

Indian and Hudson rivers

Perhaps my personal favorites were the Indian and Hudson rivers.

I visited these waters in June, taking my second rafting trip ever down these rivers. The put-in for this trip is just below Lake Abanakee on the Indian River. From here, you go about three miles to the Hudson River, which you ride for another 14 miles to North River.

I took this most recent trip with guide Nate Pelton, owner of North Creek Rafting Company. On this particular day, the river level was higher than average, adding some excitement to the trip.

The highlights of this trip are numerous. The larger waves get your adrenaline pumping while the slower sections allow you to enjoy the scenery. The trip is especially scenic as the rivers are surrounded by Forest Preserve and undeveloped lands.

In addition, there is currently only one marked trail to the Hudson River, which makes up the majority of the run and gives the area a remote feel. This is the Blue Ledges Trail that starts on the North Woods Club Road and leads to a big pool across from the Blue Ledges, cliffs that rise up from the shoreline.

This area also marks the beginning of the most difficult rapids on the trip. The Narrows rapids start shortly after the Blue Ledges.

If you have a chance, I highly recommend rafting this stretch of the Adirondacks. The best way to do it – unless you are a very experienced paddler – is to hire a guide from one of the area businesses. The summer is actually a good time for your first trip because the water levels are Class III at the highest and family friendly.

OK Slip Falls

In May, members of the media were taken on a tour of the OK Slip Falls tracts, which the state purchased this spring.

For years, this waterfall has been touted as one of the highlights of the Finch, Pruyn & Co. purchase by the state from The Nature Conservancy.

Having not seen the waterfall, I was slightly skeptical that the waterfall would live up to the hype. However, after seeing it in person, I have to say it’s the most impressive falls I’ve seen in the Adirondacks. Of course, that makes sense because at 250 feet in height, it’s the tallest waterfall in the Park.

On this trip led by the state Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy, we visited two established vistas used by prior owners of the land and another that photographer Carl Heilman, who was also on the trip, had found during one of his previous visits there.

The falls were impressive that day, in large part because it had been wet in the days leading up to the trip.

The lands are open now, but hard to get to. You either have to access them from the river, or bushwhack there. The state is in the process of developing a plan for a parking lot and trail to them.

If they do open in the fall, expect them to be a big draw for tourists. They are a rare sight.

Moose River Plains

I haven’t actually visited the Moose River Plains this summer, but it’s another of my favorite spots in the Park. It’s home to the Cedar River Flow, which is a great place to paddle, and countless other trails and ponds.

The Moose River Plains is also home to one of the biggest – if not the biggest – developed dirt road trail system in the Park, offering a unique experience for people who want to drive deep into the woods and roadside camp.

Last year, the Moose River Plains also received a lot of publicity because it was home to numerous moose sightings on Helldiver Pond. I haven’t heard much about moose sightings this summer, but I expect plenty of other people have seen them in the ponds there this year.

If you’re interested in visiting the Moose River Plains, it’s located between Indian Lake and Inlet. There are access points off of state routes 30 and 28.

Each of these areas offers a unique experience. Check them out if you get a chance.