Visit the Adirondacks for Outdoor Recreation…and Food!(?)

When thinking of our area, we often recognize first New York State’s only wilderness canoe region, 18,000 acres with four seasons of outdoor fun. This incredible paddling with a unique portage experience, back-country skiing, hiking, snowmobiling, and biking are just a taste of the seasons of fun.

Peaches + Cream Strudel from our Adirondack Alps Restaurant

Editor's note

But, there is another savory experience, and that is our food. Its richness is growing, so much so, our region was designated as a New York State Cuisine Trail.

Adirondack Communities

When I was the founding director of an Adirondack sustainable development organization, one of our themes was to bring businesses and communities together. The Adirondacks, 6 million acres, or larger than Vermont, has a year-round population of less than 200,000. Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake are the largest communities in our region, with a population less than 6,000. Many of the slightly over 100 communities which dot the Park have populations of under a 1,000. In addition, businesses are also located in between villages in rural “hamlet” areas.

It makes for wonderful personal experiences. It can also be challenging to bring people together, not because they don’t want to, but the sheer geographic distances make it interesting to create traditional destinations.

Our Region

The Lodge, being in Lake Clear, is in one of those beautiful hamlet areas and we are a part of the Upper Saranac, St. Regis and Rainbow Lake watersheds that surround the St. Regis Canoe Region. We are fortunate to have a wide variety of tourism businesses from the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center, one of the oldest NYS Fish Hatcheries, a historic golf course, farms and wonderful places to eat. With no traditional “downtown,” we had to think out of the box – and the concept of creating a trail with themed events was born.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, our area is one of the Adirondacks first tourism destinations and our waterways and later the roads and rail pathways that followed them resulted in becoming known as the “Great Connector.”

The “Great Connector”

Our volunteer marketing group believed that was a great place to start. We have 3 goals:

  1. Unify the St. Regis Canoe area.
  2. Connect with the nearby villages of Saranac and Tupper Lake.
  3. Create themed experiences that by all of us working together could be thought of as destination events.

The Adirondack Lakes Cuisine Trail was born out of these efforts.

Lake Clear Lodge booth at the Adirondack Lakes Cuisine Trail Opening Event
Photo by Diane Chase.

The Adirondack Lakes Cuisine Trail

We held our Grand Opening a couple of weeks ago at Moody Tree Farm. The weather was beautiful, it was a great turn-out with a wonderful display of food from members of the Trail.

There are 20 businesses that have joined together and more are interested. They range from restaurants and cafes to farms and breweries.

We are just getting started and our goals this year include establishing a web site with an event calendar, a summer “Long-table Dinner” theme, and an Adirondack Fall Harvest Festival.

In a further to leverage our small resources, I am a founding member of the Adirondack Cuisine Trail Association, which is an effort to combine our Trail with 5 other trails throughout the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain. We were successful in working with NYS to create one application for state designation and one organization to facilitate it.

When our neighbors in Vermont and Canada heard about this extraordinary cooperative effort, the idea sprung forward to combine their cuisine trail efforts with ours with the hope to create the world’s first international trail! Now that is a way to leverage resources!

As a small independent family-owned business, it is a challenge to create marketing pathways. Leveraging our resources with a few others in our area begins the flow, and when we combine these efforts with other communities, it can become a wonderful opportunity.

This is especially true when you are trying to promote something that may not jump out right away. We have a wonderful food story to tell and it will take all of us to tell it. And that’s the real beauty to all of this effort: the diverse, fun and tasty ways to present that story to you.

Keep your palate hungry and stay tuned!

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