Andrew, Maelle and I just took our first ‘official’ family vacation, and we had a great time. We spent a long weekend up in the Adirondacks, where we enjoyed hiking and exploring Lake Placid.
While we do a lot of traveling as a family, most of it is to visit family or tagging along with Andrew on a business trip. I felt like we needed to start our own little family vacation, just the three of us.
I’d been wanting to go to the Adirondacks since we moved here, and it seems like everyone goes there all the time. We have lots of friends who go regularly to hike, so I knew I’d have someone to reach out to for advice when planning our trip. In fact, two of our good friends are 46-R’s (meaning they have climbed the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks) and I immediately asked her if I was crazy to think we could carry Maelle up one of the smaller ones. She definitely said we were crazy…but that she thought we could do it.
That was all I needed to hear! I booked our lodging and started reading about various hikes in the area. I scored a used child-carrier on Facebook Marketplace and we even took a few practice hikes locally with friends before the big trip.
Lake Placid is an easy six-hour drive from our house, and we left mid-morning on a Thursday. We’ve started stopping at playgrounds for lunch along the way, after we had such a good experience doing that on this trip. Sometimes I pack us a lunch, and sometimes we find somewhere to purchase food. It’s a great chance for Maelle to run around and often ensures a better car nap than if we hadn’t stopped.
We arrived in Lake Placid in time to check-in and unpack at Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn, which might just be my new favorite place to stay, ANYWHERE. We had a ‘Gold’ room, which means it was a bit larger (key with a travel crib), had a view of the mountains, and came equipped with a mini-fridge and microwave. We even had a small balcony with chairs and a little table. The place was highly recommended by our friends and it did not disappoint!
The following morning, we awoke bright and early and arrived at the Cascade Mountain trailhead at 7:15. Cascade and Porter are widely known to be the ‘easiest’ of the high peaks, not because they are ‘easy,’ per se, but because they are relatively short. But, that means they are steep! We did about 6.5 miles roundtrip with about 4,000 feet of elevation.
It was so much work carrying her up the steep trail. Andrew and I took turns, and it took about 3 hours to reach the top. Here we are, about to summit Cascade Mountain, our first high peak!
Our friends even let us borrow this cute ‘Future 46-R’ t-shirt for our photos!
It may take us a decade (or more!) to climb them all as a family, but I think it’s a worthy endeavor to have more family time in the outdoors. Cascade is co-located with another high peak, Porter Mountain, so we were able to summit that one as well!
We ate our lunch on top of Porter and enjoyed the sunshine and rest. All in all, it took more than 7 hours to climb up and down both peaks! It was incredibly difficult, and looking back, I wonder how we did it. Many people carry their kids hiking; not many people carry them up high peaks! (And for good reason! She was so heavy!) But, it was an amazing way to start our trip.
The following day, we did a short, family-friendly hike along Cobble Lookout and were greeted with this INCREDIBLE view upon exiting the trail:
The fall is such a wonderful time to visit the Adirondacks. I’m so glad we chose early October for our trip. While I heard some people commenting that the leaves weren’t yet at ‘peak,’ I thought they were just incredible. The vibrant oranges and reds made both the drive and our hikes even more enjoyable.
We spent the rest of Saturday exploring ‘downtown’ Lake Placid, first visiting Lake Placid Brewery, where I enjoyed a bourbon-barrel pumpkin ale that was delicious. The only downside of visiting on a beautiful, Columbus Day weekend was that EVERY place was packed. The atmosphere and energy were fun, but the wait times were not conducive to feeding a toddler. So, we ended up trying some Peruvian food at what looked like a nondescript sports bar and loved it!
I had another easy hike planned for Sunday, Three Ponds, which was recommended by our friends. The trail takes you along–you guessed it–three ponds in just a few miles of walking. Other than one short, steep section, it’s full of gentle undulation and relatively easy hiking. Maelle was even able to walk some of it herself.
While summiting a high peak was pretty epic, it was this hike that gave me that ‘a-ha’ moment in which I knew I wanted to do this again, and soon. It was something about the still, peaceful atmosphere and being together as a little family in nature, without being on a strict schedule. We paused here, at Copperas Pond, twice and enjoyed this view. As I sat admiring the mountains and enjoying the sounds of Andrew and Maelle playing near me, I felt SO HAPPY.
While we could have shortened our hike by exiting the northern trailhead and walking along the road to our car, we were having such a great time that we chose to turn around and retrace our steps to the southern trailhead, where we started. Along the way, Maelle fell asleep and stayed that way for at least 30 minutes! Andrew remarked multiple times that weekend about the big smile on my face. I was having a blast.
As we ate bagels on our room’s little balcony on our final morning, I think we were all a little sad to say goodbye to the Adirondacks. I left wondering how soon we could come back. I suppose that’s the sign of a great family trip.