Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Vanderbilt Mansion NHS || Hyde Park, NY

The Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site is located in a small town outside of NYC called Hyde Park. It was about a twenty minute detour on our way home from the Adirondaks this summer so we decided to check it out! My husband & I enjoy visiting NPS sites as we can while traveling because we always find we learn something new at these places. Admission to the grounds is free and there are guided tours of the mansion for $10/person, but they were actually free with our annual parks pass! 

The tour took about an hour and explored three different floors of the home. The mansion is one of the oldest estates on the Hudson River and was completed after in 1899. It was owned originally by Frederick William Vanderbilt, son to the famous businessman, William Vanderbilt. The property includes many buildings and a formal garden as well.

We loved the formal gardens and fountains - they were a beautiful site and all but empty!

All together we spent about two and a half hours at the mansion, which was a perfect amount of time to take a tour, see the grounds, and browse the museum. If you're looking for a nice getaway outside of New York, be sure to add the Vanderbilt Mansion as a stop!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Hurricane Mountain Hike || Adirondacks, NY

Hike: Hurricane Mountain Northern Approach Trail near Keene, NY
Distance: 6.6 miles round trip, out-and-back trail, 1,600ft of elevation gain
While vacationing in the Adirondacks with my family, my husband and I decided to do a longer day hike in the high peaks region. Hurricane Mountain came as a suggestion from a good friend, so we decided to try this shorter peak out and we loved it!
We chose the northern trail, which starts at a parking lot off of Otoole Road. We followed well-marked blue blazes for the first three miles of the trail. The first mile of the trail was very easy, had a creek crossing and was mostly flat. The second and third miles had a steady climb, but neither of us felt it was too bad. The trail wove through groves of aspen trees and was really beautiful.

Every intersection was well-marked and we had no trouble finding our way up the mountain. 

At the top of a large hill, we reached the three-mile mark. There is a red path (the southern approach) that intersects and took us the rest of the way to the summit. At this point in the trail we came up over the treeline and had incredible views of the high peaks. I should note that we hardly saw any other hikers up until this point - I'm fairly certain more people opt for the red trail/southern approach.

One of the main reasons we chose this hike is because of the open fire tower at the top! We climbed up the five flights of stairs and were greeted with incredible views. 

It was a good spot for a lunch break too!

After enjoying the views we went back down the mountain on the same trail. 
Many of the trails in the Adirondacks have registers at the trail heads. In the morning, we signed our names, contact information, our destination, and how many days we would be out (as backpacking is allowed in the area), and when we returned we "checked out" by putting a check-mark near our name. The obvious reason for this is safety - if we didn't return in a few hours someone would hopefully begin to look for us. But in addition, this helps rangers know how many people are using the trails and the effect it has on them.
Mike & I both agreed that we loved this hike and would list it among our favorite Adirondack hikes. It is enough of a workout to make you feel like you earned the views, and the fire tower at the top is super neat! For more information on getting there, parking and other reviews, check out Alltrails.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Camping in the Adirondacks

In June, Mike took off for a three-day weekend and we had planned to head to the beach. Unfortunately, the weather on the coast predicted rain, so we decided to head north instead! Neither of us had been to the Adirondacks, so we had no idea where to stay or what to do. We ended up picking a campground near Schroon Lake called Eagle Point Campground. It was quiet, right along the lake, and practically empty - perfect! Our first night it stormed all night, but we woke up to clouds in the morning and decided to go on a hike. 
We decided to tackle a fairly popular hike that hits two of the high peaks, Cascade and Porter Mountain. It is 5.6 miles round trip with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. We made breakfast at the campsite and had about an hour drive to the trail head, so we got started around 11am. The trail has a register (which was a new idea to us) at the start that we signed with our names, phone number, and expected days of the trail. At the end of our hike, we signed that we had made it back safely to the start of the trail. 

 We decided to hit the summit of Cascade first. Most of the trail is in the woods, but in the last half mile you come out on to the bald top. Unfortunately, we got to the top and were completely socked in with clouds! I was so disappointed. We hung around for a while, ate our lunch and hoped it would clear. It did partially, but we couldn't wait forever, so we went down the trail back towards Porter. 

 This was taken close to the summit of Porter - the views were amazing as the clouds cleared! The trail down from Cascade to Porter was very interesting. At one point we thought we had accidentally left the trail and stumbled on a creek. There was so much spring run-off from the winter's snow on the mountain that it turned the trail into stream!

 I was so bummed that we didn't get to see the views from Cascade because of the clouds.. so I convinced Mike to go back the half mile to go to the top again. He loves me so much haha.
 Top of Cascade again - without clouds!

 After a few summit photos, we went back down the trail. My knees were achy by the end, but we enjoyed it! We enjoyed a yummy dinner in Lake Placid before heading back to our campground for a very good night of sleep. 

 The next morning, Mike made pancakes from breakfast as I plotted what trail we could tackle. I just want to take a second to say how much we loved our campsite! We could see the lake and mountains peaking through the trees behind our tent. The campsite itself was nice and large, with plenty of room for another tent even. Our site (number 22) was close to the bathroom but away from other people (we couldn't see another tent from our site) which was perfect. The campground has a small beach, showers, and very inexpensive boat rentals ($20 for a kayak for the day - awesome!) which we didn't have time to take advantage of.
The town of Schroon Lake is just ten minutes down the road. It's a cute, small town that has a grocery store, a few restaurants, a gas station, and a few shops. We got milkshakes at Stewart's - which we learned is best described as a hybrid gas station ice cream shop. They were only $2/each and they were delicious! But I digress. We loved this little campground and will likely be back again!

 We couldn't see another camper from our site! I'm not sure if it was just a slow weekend because it was early in the season, but we were glad for the peace and quiet. 
  My favorite camping buddy. 
 The views from our tent were hard to beat.  

 We took it slow on Sunday morning, as we were a little sore from our hike the previous day. 
 Eventually we packed up camp and went out for another adventure. We chose to hike Severance Mountain, which is located just a few minutes north of Schroon Lake. The trail starts out by going through a tunnel under the highway (super cool - I can't believe I didn't take a photo) and then winds up the hill to an overlook. It's a little under 3 miles round trip and we would have stayed longer if it weren't for the mosquitoes! They were downright awful! Mike had eleven bites on just one of his arms by the time we got back to the car. Next time, we'll be sure to pack the bug spray. 
  Considering our lack of proper planning, we thought it was a great trip. We loved the Adirondack region and can't wait to plan more trips there in the future. We also stopped at two National Park Sites on our way up and back, the Saratoga Historical Park and the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site. Our one regret was not bringing the kayaks, if we were for more than two nights we would definitely bring them. The entire trip was fairly inexpensive as well. Because I'm always being asked how we travel so much, I broke down the cost for our entire trip.

Camp site fee - $52
Dinner out on Saturday - $35
Ice Cream (twice haha) - $10
Souvenirs - $12
Gas - $48
Hiking, National Park Sites- Free

We brought most of our food with us, ate pancakes for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. Our first night I brought some leftover rice and chicken that we heated up on the stove. Not very glamorous, but our whole weekend trip was $157. For everything. That's less than the price of a hotel room for the night at the beach! So that's how we do it, we sleep on the ground and eat tuna sandwiches for lunch. But we get to see really cool places together, so we're okay with it. 
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