Adirondack Park, New York

Encompassing a huge 6 million acres, this park offers natural wonders just hours from America's largest city.

In 1894, the New York State Legislature designated the Adirondack Park a “Forever Wild” forest preserve. Encompassing more than 85 percent of all wilderness in the Eastern United States and occupying an area the size of Vermont, the 6 million-acre patchwork of public and private land is larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Parks combined, and provides an ideal wilderness escape within a day’s drive of most Northeast and Mid-Atlantic cities. (It’s a two-hour drive from Montreal, six hours from Boston, and a little over four hours from New York City.)

The park’s 46 High Peaks (over 4,000 feet) are the tallest mountains in New York State. Hikers can sojourn more than 2,000 miles of trails (the largest trail system in the country.) Large populations of whitetail deer and black bear, and increasing numbers of moose inhabit the park, along with common loons, mergansers, bald eagles, beaver, coyote, fishers, bobcats, and trout.

Eat Smart: Chef/owner Kevin Gregg at Caffé Rustica in Lake Placid buys from local farms like Rivermede in Keene Valley and scours the town’s farmers’ market every Wednesday. Look for his Scottish ale-braised buffalo short ribs, not on the regular menu but available as a special.

Be Fit: Five miles south of Lake Placid off of Route 73, you’ll find Adirondack Loj, a lodging facility run by the Adirondack Mountain Club. From the loj, follow the trail to Marcy Dam and then up Mount Phelps, approximately eight miles roundtrip.

Live Well: The Adirondack Museum, located in Blue Mountain Lake, houses collections dedicated to the history of the lives of the people who have lived in and around Adirondack Park. Visit the Common Threads: 150 years of Adirondack Quilts and Comforters exhibit through October 18, 2009.

Where to Stay: Ringed by Dix, Macomb, Nippletop, and Covin mountains in the High Peaks region of the park, Elk Lake Lodge sits amidst a 12,000 acre private forest reserve. The main lodge, constructed in rustic Adirondack style in 1904, welcomes guests with a roaring fire on cool evenings.

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