Travel and Adventure

Lake Placid and the Adirondack Mountains

Lake Placid is home to the Adirondack mountains and happened to be a major reason I took a few days off work for a boys only (Matthew and I) trip to check it out. It didn’t hurt that I would be scouting ahead for the Survivor Adventure Fitness program running at the end of September (if you’re interested in the Survivor Adventure program check out

I decided not to do all the touristy stuff because Matthew is six years old and it would be expensive to bring him to places that he would honestly be quite bored seeing. There will come a time when he’s old enough to appreciate Olympic history but that time isn’t right now.

Instead we went to check out the Adirondack mountains. These mountains are breathtaking and while I’ve included photos in this post, it doesn’t do the view justice. We didn’t scale any major mountains (good luck convincing a 6-year-old to walk for 7 hours) but I did talk him into climbing to the summit of Mt. Jo, which is a highly recommended climb for people that are looking for a short hike or haven’t done a lot of hiking and aren’t in great physical shape. The mountain trail is very steep (the summit is 2876 feet high) so you get a great workout if you walk / climb fast enough and it’s short enough to keep a child’s interest. There is also an incredible view of all the other mountains from the summit.

Along the trail to Mt. Jo you pass a great little museum filled with books and skeletons of various animals in the area (snake skins, deer skulls, etc.). There is a staff member stationed at the museum to answer questions and be a great source of information. The small bucket of animal skins and hides kept Matthew entertained for a few minutes prior to making the hike. I think at about this time Matthew started feeling motivated to make the climb, rather than me forcing him and listening to him ask me if we’re almost there yet every hundred feet (note: don’t watch the weather network’s episodes of nature accidents the night before). It turned out he was working on his Canadian Ninja Warrior skills on the way up and loved the rocky ascent.

If you head out to the Adirondack Loj, they have awesome, friendly and helpful staff. There are maps on tables that they will show you and they’ll explain where you are and the advantages / disadvantages to the mountains you want to climb. The staff opened my eyes to some of the challenges I will face when planning the Survivor program.

Another place of interest is the High Falls Gorge. This waterfall view came highly recommended to check out and spend a few hours looking around. The High Falls Gorge is a set of ladder systems that hang beside a rock cliff, allowing you to get fairly close to the waterfall.  The view of the waterfall was great but it’s not something I would do again because the price outweighs what you get. That’s not to say you don’t get anything at all, but if you live near Ottawa and take a shorter drive to Mont. Tremblant National Park, they have a waterfall that is free to get very close to and just as exciting to check out. While I liked it, again I weighed cost vs. gain and it didn’t quite measure up (but I also live in a beautiful area in the country so if you live on the plains and don’t see things like that, it might be worth the adventure).

A few perks to the High Falls Gorge is a couple of “games” for the kids. The first was a card they give you to answer a few questions (linked to the signs and information postings along your walk). They called this the Junior explorer card and if you answer all the questions correctly you receive a toy (yoyo, pencil, spy glass, etc.). Matthew had a great time searching the area for the information and trying to answer the questions so in that it was quite successful. The Gorge also has a mile nature trail that they rate as an intermediate climb, but after Mt. Jo it seemed quite easy. The second cool game for kids is the mining at the main office. You can purchase a bag of sand that you dump into a sluice box and search for crystals hidden inside. For $9 Matthew went home with what he thought were very cool diamonds and crystals (I explained to him that he should still stay in school).

Outside those two main adventures we did what kids love to do. We swam -a lot- at the Quality Inn indoor pool in the morning and evening, and we went canoeing and peddle boating. The trip lasted two days so we weren’t there overly long.

The least interesting but noteworthy fact for families is the hotel. We staid at the Quality Inn and for the price I paid ($89 US a night), wasn’t at all disappointed (despite the reviews online – maybe I’m just not that picky since I spent enough time in the army sleeping in the forest). Our room had a pool side patio so we could step out of our room and straight into the pool (Matthew’s favorite part). The pool was heated and had a hot tub connected to it. There were no lifeguards or staff monitoring so Matthew got to swim to his hearts content despite his age (he’s a very good swimmer and if we go to a local pool in Ottawa the lifeguards won’t let kids get more than a meter or two away from you before they’re yelling at you). The hotel included a breakfast of typical hotel food and we opted for the waffles since they tasted the best (note: never eat the eggs from a free continental breakfast buffet).  The building was clearly under some renovation but it didn’t take away from our enjoyment of the hotel (online the hotel claims there is a kids play area but it’s mostly shut down or not operating). The hotel also included complimentary hour use of their canoes, peddle boats and rowing boats – a nice perk we took advantage of.

Overall a successful trip and one Matthew will remember for a long time. With young kids I think it’s more important to build memories of adventure rather than heading to indoor historic monuments. Sure they can learn a lot from history but there’s plenty of time for that when they’re older. Exploring and developing a curiosity about the world and nature is more important at this stage in their lives.

Here is a list of activities you can also plan for your trip. I took this photo out of the hotel room binder.

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