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Best Nature Spots to Visit in Lake George This Fall
By Brandon Laxton
As much as we love warm summer weather, autumn is the perfect time to visit Lake George, the “Queen of American Lakes.” The weather is beautiful, the colors are vibrant, and there are plenty of places to explore with friends, family, and children.
Where is Lake George?
Lake George is a small town in upstate New York, tucked in at the southern end of the Adirondack Mountains. It’s just over an hour’s drive north of Albany, and if you don’t live close by, you can fly into Albany International Airport. Coming from New York City is about a 3.5 to 4-hour drive, depending on the route you choose. It’s the perfect weekend getaway for nature enthusiasts.
Lake George (The Actual Lake)
Lake George is surrounded by a rich environment. If you visit in the fall, you can’t skip the historic steamboat tour rides of the lake (also called Lake George). The boats are wheelchair/handicap accessible (up to a certain deck), so there are no limitations on who can board and enjoy the view of the crystal-clear water.
The most popular option is the 1-hour cruise aboard the Minne Ha Ha. There are three decks with indoor and outdoor viewing areas, meaning that you can enjoy the trip no matter the weather. The first floor also has windows to the engine room, which is a fun way to see how the boat operates.
Alternatively, you can hop aboard the Lac du Saint Sacrement for an exquisite dining trip across the lake. They mainly offer brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises that take about two hours to complete. Each trip provides special narration by the captain, which explains the deep history of the region, points of interest, the geology of the lake, and what you see from the boat.
If you want to get away from the water, you can take the three-mile round-trip hiking trail up Prospect Mountain on the west side near the town of Lake George. The 3-mile trail is steep , so be mindful of wearing the proper shoes. Sunset is the ideal time of day to experience the scenery fully. As the weather cools down and trees begin their transition from green to yellow and red, you will find yourself with a breathtaking view of warm colors reflecting off the water.
Alternatively, you can drive up to the summit on Prospect Mountain Highway (also known as the Veterans Memorial Highway). You can stop at three points of interest: The Narrows, Lake George Panorama, and The Eagle’s Eye, for different views along the way.
Another route to consider is Buck Mountain, which is located on the east side of the lake. It’s a much longer route, lasting approximately 7-miles up and down the trail. There are entry points from either the north (Shelving Rock Road) or the south (Pilot Knob Road). If hiking on this path, you will need to come prepared as it can take about 5 hours to complete. There are some rocky sections as well, so this trail isn’t ideal for beginners. However, if you do take the challenge, the reward is a stunning birds-eye view of Lake George and the surrounding mountains.
If you don’t know what railbikes are, they are special vehicles that can seat either two or four people. This fun activity allows passengers to ride along railroad tracks and explore a section of the Adirondack railroad that never saw passenger traffic. You can go at your own pace, so it’s a perfect activity for people of all ages.
Revolution Rail Co. has many locations to choose from. A fan favorite is North Bridge Run, which is 30 minutes away from Lake George. The trip is 7 miles long, starting at North Creek Station. You will travel along the banks of the Hudson River, through the beautiful Adirondack Forest, and then over the Hudson on a spectacular trestle bridge before turning for the return ride back to the launch point.
One of the newest additions is the Stony Creek/Warrensburg Run – which is only 10 minutes from Lake George. This 8-mile railbiking route runs between Thurman Depot and the gorgeous 1000 Acres Ranch grounds. You’ll get to take in views of the Hudson River and the Adirondack Mountains along the way.
Both rides take 2 hours minimum to complete. It is highly recommended to book tickets in advance because they can sell out quickly. The best way to do this is online via the Revolution Rail Co. website. Also, be mindful that the railbikes shut down at the end of October!
Peak tourist season in Lake George is always during the summer when temperatures are warmer. As cooler weather settles in, the area becomes a perfect place for a fall weekend getaway. Not only will you avoid the large summer crowds, but you’ll also experience amazing outdoor activities!