Mountains and lakes are only made prettier by the natural fireworks display that is the Adirondacks in fall. Just imagine a stunningly beautiful natural area, then add reds, yellows, and oranges to the color palette and you’ll start to get the idea. And even though it’s true that you don’t have to go anywhere in particular to see the fall foliage, we do recommend taking a look at our fall bucket list to discover some new ways to connect with autumn!
1. Stargaze from a mountaintop
We’ve all seen the night sky, right? But rest assured, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the night sky from a mountaintop. That’s especially true in Tupper Lake because the town has committed itself to keeping the skies dark by installing street lamps that are specially designed to direct light downward, significantly reducing their glare.
To see the dark skies in action, take the short hike up Coney Mountain, which is about 10 minutes south of downtown. The trail gently spirals up the mountain and never gets difficult. Our advice is to get up there for sunset, then enjoy the fall colors while you wait for the stars to emerge. Oh, and don’t forget to bring some extra layers and a headlamp — by the time you’re done it’ll be chilly and dark. These are dark skies we’re talking about, after all.
2. Climb a High Peak
People flock to the region to climb the 46 High Peaks, a list of mountains once thought to be over 4,000 feet in elevation. As technology improved it was learned that a couple of the mountains on the coveted list are actually under 4,000 feet, and a couple of mountains not on the list are higher than 4,000 feet, but no matter. The challenge persevered with the original peaks, and now well over 11,000 people proudly call themselves 46ers.
Most of the High Peaks are east of Tupper Lake, but there is a group of four just north of downtown collectively called the Western High Peaks, and they’re great climbs. From the end of Coreys Road hikers can access an easy path to the base of the Seward Range, from which Seward, Emmons, and Donaldson can be bagged, or they can continue for another mile and do the standalone Seymour. Just be aware that these are long, difficult hikes that should only be attempted by experienced hikers. And while the trails to the peaks are popular enough to be well-worn, they are unmarked and unmaintained, meaning you will likely encounter obstacles like downed trees, deep mud, and steep, uneven terrain, so leave early and plan for slow going.
3. Paddle a scenic river
Enjoy a glimpse into the past, and plenty of bright colors reflecting off the water, with a flatwater paddle along the Bog River from Lows Lower Dam to Hitchens Pond. This paddle is made better by the two options it offers. You can explore Hitchens Pond and stop by Lows Upper Dam, where you can walk among the ruins of Lows Horseshoe Forestry Company, then take an easy one-mile hike up Lows Ridge to a breathtaking view of mountains and wetlands.
If you prefer to continue paddling, do the short portage around Lows Upper Dam and continue on to Lows Lake, where there is a variety of primitive campsites and one of the largest nesting areas in New York state for the common loon. Depending on when you visit you might miss these iconic birds, though — they migrate to the Atlantic coast sometime in October or November and don’t return until April or May.
4. Eat a Washboard donut
Even if you don’t like donuts, this laundry mat/gift shop/donut shop is worth a stop, if only to see the odd laundry-gifts-donuts combo in action. We can’t speak to the laundry side of things, but we can say these freshly made donuts are exactly as delicious as they sound. They have your staples, like strawberry and cinnamon, but you can also order a bacon donut and, well, just order the bacon donut.
5. Taste fall at Raquette River Brewing
Tupper Lake’s premiere brewery has gone from a modest little tasting room at the end of a side road to a full-blown experience with food trucks, live music, and more great beer. It’s still at the end of a side road, but now there’s a whole new addition that includes a huge bar, a gorgeous stone fireplace, and plenty of seating inside and out. And did we mention how great the beer is? The selection rotates, but some of the staples include the smoked red, mango wheat, and an IPA. Raquette River has more than ten beers on tap, and there’s always a wide range of styles to choose from, meaning picky drinkers and adventurous tasters alike will find something to throw back here. They also have a large selection of hard ciders and wine on tap.