Who doesn't look up at the stars to escape from the everyday to an unknown world? I know I do, and I would bet many of you do too. (It's OK -- I won't tell your boss you're thinking of relocating.)
When it comes to looking at the night sky, it turns out that the Adirondacks are as scenic after dark as they are during daylight hours. Just take a look at a satellite photo of the United States taken at night: That pitch-black, Adirondack-shaped hole in New York state means this area is nearly devoid of the light pollution that blots out the heavens in many towns and cities. Combine that with cool, dry night air, and easy access to high vantage points to get great views, and you're likely to see things you've only heard about. (80% of Americans live in places where it's impossible to see the Milky Way. On a clear night, that cloudy strip is hanging right above you here.)
That clarity is one reason the Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory has set up shop in Tupper Lake. And, while it's great to attend a Friday night viewing party to see the heavens through one of the powerful telescopes on hand there, you can see amazing vistas all around Tupper using just your eyes. You don't need to be an astronomer to appreciate the cosmos. The stars are just as beautiful and thought-provoking even if you can't pick out much more than the Big Dipper and the North Star. All you have to do is head outside, look up, and let your imagination do the rest.
Wondering where to start? I've offered a few suggestions below. If you start your trip in daylight, these locations offer great places to catch a rosy red sunset, too. As a good housekeeping note -- and I'm not talking about the kind you use to cook a turducken -- I've offered a few gear notes with each trip, in order to optimize your time out and have a safe trip.
By boot: Coney Mountain
This 1.1-mile hike (one way) to a bald summit takes you to one of the best daylight views in Tupper Lake; at night, you'll have the sweep of the night sky above you as well. If you're interested in capturing the memories for posterity, bring a tripod and camera capable of taking long exposures to capture the stars above and the waters of Tupper Lake itself below. Be sure all the members in your party bring a headlamp and extra batteries -- it's not fun trying to navigate a dark trail, and surely not safe.
The trail is a bit rocky as it circumnavigates the steep, cliff-lined slopes of the small peak, so when you are hiking it in the dark, be sure to watch your step and take your time, especially when coming downhill. The final stretch before the summit is my favorite, where it climbs the open rock slab to the stunning views that await you. I highly recommend getting up their early with a brown bag supper or snack, watching the sunset, and relaxing on a cozy blanket while you await the starry show.
To find this popular trailhead: From the intersection of Route 3 and Route 30 in Tupper Lake, head along Route 30 toward Long Lake. Continue for 10.5 miles to the trailhead on the left.
By boat: Moody Marsh on Tupper Lake
If you are going out on this little boat trip be sure that you are wearing a life vest (PFD) and that your boat has some sort of light on the hull, whether you're in a motorboat, canoe, kayak, or other craft. Motorboats are common and you want to be sure that you can be seen.
Moody Marsh is a massive wetland area with tall grasses, countless birds, and one stellar sunset. Be sure to paddle out a ways to the west to get away from the streetlights and hum of the cars passing by. Chances are you'll encounter the most motorboat traffic in the channel between Tupper Lake and Raquette Pond, so be careful.
To get to Moody from the intersection of Route 3 and Route 30 in Tupper Lake, head along Route 30 toward Long Lake. Continue for 1.3 miles to where water is on both sides of you. There are several places to pull off and launch your canoe or kayak. If you have a motorboat, you could also continue a bit farther and use the state boat launch, also located on Route 30, and paddle back into the Moody Marsh area.
By car: Bog River Falls
Don't have a boat, or aren't up for a nighttime trek? This roadside attraction takes you someplace where the only special gear you'll need is a flashlight.
Bog River Falls, the southern inlet of Tupper Lake, is the perfect destination for those of you who got a late start or don't have the ability to wander too far from the roadside. It's also a great destination in its own right: As you listen to the sounds of the falls crashing down all around while laying under the stars, all other sounds disappear -- and so will your cares.
There are plenty of vantage spots along the river to choose from. You'll find slab rocks at the top of the Lower Falls and to the right of the Right Falls. Back up the road a few hundred feet is a path to the left side, or base, of the Left Falls. Be careful along the base of these falls, as there are areas of poison ivy which could ruin a good night. Across the road on either side of the bridge, you'll find paths to the base of the Lower Falls. All of these spots have open rock that can be used as your viewing platform out over Tupper Lake and high into the sky. There are no pesky street lights around here to take away from the clear view to above.
To get here from the intersection of Route 3 and Route 30 in Tupper Lake, head along Route 30 toward Long Lake. Continue for 8 miles to where Route 421 comes in on the right. Follow Route 421 for a couple miles to the crossing of the stone bridge and the parking is just past on the left.
Ready for that nighttime bliss? Find the perfect lodging to rest easy after taking in the stellar views.
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