Written by – Bill Hynes – Mountain biker/outdoor enthusiast/contractor
The Village of Lake Placid is the center of an ever-expanding mountain bike trail network. The rapid development of quality mountain biking trails has also led to an expansion and acceptance of mountain biking within the culture of sport. Whether exploring the wares behind luxurious storefronts or dining out on the main drag, one is no more than a mile from numerous trailheads. Trails around town vary from beginner to advanced level, consisting of crushed stone paths or narrow technical single tracks that twist their way through surrounding forests. Founded and operated by Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA), the network provides options for all ages and abilities. BETA has created magic in the woodlands that surround Lake Placid, thanks to the efforts of dedicated, passionate volunteers, as well as local riders who have voiced support for crafting more trails and expanding the presence of mountain biking in the area. All told, BETA has designed and mapped over 50 miles of trail throughout the surrounding acreage.
For the ambitious rider, an ideal trek can cover the most notable trails around town in about four hours. A quality, full-suspension mountain bike, basic mountain bike knowledge and skills, plus plenty of drinking water are required. If you are fit and geared for the challenge, there is a particular loop which provides most all that Lake Placid’s most notable trail networks have to offer. Take note that the following ride as a whole is not intended for families with young children who are unable to pedal for long stretches, inexperienced bicyclists, or anybody cruising on a ‘Walmart special.’ However, people who fit into that mold can find plenty of adventure riding from these trailheads individually. The specific trails in this loop include, but are not limited to, Lussi/Loggers, Craig Wood, and Henry’s Woods networks. This particular loop can be easily manipulated as all three trailheads lead to various terrain and riding styles. The trip starts and ends on Main Street in Lake Placid. The loop encompasses 85% trail, 15% road, and covers roughly twelve miles. Whether a rider is seeking varying trail lengths or degrees of technicality, much can be accomplished by utilizing this basic loop as a model. Again, manipulation is at the rider’s discretion. During the brief period in which I worked at High Peaks Cyclery, I had the pleasure of guiding this loop and it quickly became my go-to. When Matt (of Live and Let Wander) came into the cyclery looking to experience mountain biking in Lake Placid, we rode this same loop turn by turn together in approximately 4 hours, including several breaks for water, snacks, and scenic photo ops.
Beginning on Main Street, riders will head out of town going downhill, past the Olympic Oval (officially known as the James B. Sheffield Olympic Skating Rink) on the right and High Peaks Cyclery on the left. Riders will continue straight through the light at the Route 73 intersection and will follow the right-hand shoulder as it curves to the left and continues on towards Whiteface Mountain. Just beyond the curve, the horizon opens up to reveal a spectacular view of the mountains and the Lake Placid Club golf course. At the end of the curve is a parking lot that appears on the right. This is the location of the Lussi/Loggers trailhead where riders will ascend through a playful warm-up style single track with a light downhill grade. The first trail to take is called Cinderella Story, which carries riders through varying cross country style single track. The path is surprisingly littered with man made obstacles for the daring to test their skills. About a mile into the trail, one will encounter an impressively long log ride. Try to send it! Trust me- the reward far outweighs the risk. At this point, one should keep his or her head on a swivel for the next trailhead, christened Flying Wasp. This trailhead will appear on the right after a few short, though noticeable, climbs. From Flying Wasp, the rider will eventually run into the Jackrabbit ski trail sign (red with white letters). Follow this sign to the right, going downhill. The Jackrabbit Trail will ultimately lead the rider over a single-lane bridge and out to River Road. To the right, just over the bridge, is a parking area that offers great scenery for a water break. After rejuvenating with water and that bonus granola bar, proceed by turning right out of the parking area onto River Road. Keeping the mountain vista on the right, continue down the right-hand shoulder to the red barn. At the red barn make a left onto the dirt road where the now-familiar Jackrabbit Trail sign will be waiting. After a short burst up the dirt road, the rider’s eyes will catch a farm gate off the right shoulder of the road, with just enough gap to pass the handlebars through. With one’s handlebars successfully through the gate, or an embarrassing hiccup, Craig Wood is next. This particular section will warm the rider right up, as some say it climbs endlessly. I promise, it is not that long. Just as the trail crests the final hill, a place to rest lies in front of a trailhead breaking off to the right. The sign to this trail reads, ‘The Back 9,’ as an ode to the section of Craig Wood golf course around which it navigates. The Back 9 loop can be followed back to the junction after about a mile of meandering through rolling terrain with a few built-in features along the way. From here, the trail will lead to some of the most fun riding the village has to offer, involving hidden spur trails that the extremely serious athletes ride. Those looking for airtime should try to ‘pop a wheelie’ on the aggressive banked out loop track that contains an intimidating drop right at the start. A rider can couple these trails together over and over, then simply head back down the trail at the main junction to journey back towards River Road.
Enjoy the long downhill cruise, and prepare for a cooldown while riding Henry’s Woods. Exiting onto River Road, riders will now turn left and head back towards Route 73. Once at 73, riders will go right towards the Village and bear left at the fork onto Old Military Road. Over the first rise on Old Military Road, riders will approach Bear Cub Lane, on the left, opposite the blue hospital sign. Two hundred feet onto Bear Cub Lane there is a sign for Henry’s Woods on the right. Henry’s Woods is owned and maintained by the Uihlein foundation. The trails are mostly double wide crushed stone paths frequented by dog walkers and hikers, some daring single track can be found up high (red trail). All trails here are well marked with colors and distances, with the kiosk at the trailhead providing a map. This network is a great way to end the ride as it is less technical and demanding compared to the first two networks. The green connector trail (Plateau) is a two-mile loop back to the parking lot with rewarding lookout points. From here, riders will catch a breathtaking view of the Village of Lake Placid with Whiteface Mountain towering in the distance. Spin a few more leisurely loops around the park before heading back down to the trailhead parking area. The village can be found by crossing Old Military Road, skirting the neighborhood back towards 73, which will lead right back to Main Street, wherever the rider’s terminus may be.
At this point, having circled the belly of Lake Placid sampling the best trail networks in town, riders will experience two states: exhaustion and deep satisfaction. In a mere four hours, riders will have covered a minimum of fifteen miles of terrain ranging from manicured crushed gravel paths to technical pinner single track and countless man-made berms, roll overs, and drops. Lake Placid is truly unique in that riders can experience diverse terrain on carefully maintained trails without ever leaving the Village or driving to one specific trailhead. Readers and riders, please use this article as a source of reference in your research while planning your own Lake Placid mountain bike adventure.
As mentioned earlier, while most of these routes are customizable for riders of all abilities and ambitions, thorough planning and research is strongly advised. Trail maps and further information can be accessed on the BETA Trails webpage (www.betatrails.org). Be safe, ride happy, and I hope to see you out on the trail!
Traveling to new locations is a pretty regular occurrence in our family. We are always planning, scheming, adventuring to a new location, and if we are idle for too long, we get antsy.
So, I understand the wanderlust. I embrace it and encourage it to everyone I know. But still, something happens to me when my husband goes off on an adventure without us. The days before he leaves for a trip, I get nervous, anxious, and even a bit weepy because I know that the adventures that he embarks on alone are a bit more risky than our family jaunts. Although he always errs on the side of caution and is a real pro at risk assesment, I know that the danger of the elements and the outdoors can be a match for the most seasoned outdoorsman. And, I know that shit happens to the safest people. People get hurt out there. And, when the person about to head out into the wilderness is the person that means the most to you in this world…well, it can make your stomach a bit queasy.
I get the question pretty often from my friends and family…why do you LET him go so often? Why do you let him go on these trips, when they are dangerous/you have to stay home with the kids/they cost money etc. etc. etc….
The answer to every single one of those questions is; because I know that this is what fulfills him. Sure, he is the most incredible husband, father, friend (Jack Pearson ain’t got nothin’ on my Matthew) and all of these things are what are the most important to him. But, when he summits that new mountain, when he pushes himself to train for a more difficult expedition, when he rides that fresh powder, it adds a light to his eyes that only those that are adventure chasers might understand. He speaks of the mountains with reverence, and I know that experiencing new ones makes him truly happy. And, his happiness is one of my own priorities (as I know that mine is one of his).
So, I let him go.
I kiss him deeply before he leaves and wish him love, safety and fun. The entire time he’s gone, I wait for the occasional “it’s all good” call or a message from his In Reach Satellite to put my heart at ease. I throw some good vibes up to the universe and hope that the mountain is kind to him until he returns to us. And, shortly after he unpacks his bags and give the kids their souvenirs, the maps come back out, more plane tickets are booked and a new adventure will soon begin…
xo Elisa Rispoli
Written by: Jolena Hove
I’m 30 and went on my first hike 3 years ago. A friend invited me to hike Allstones Creek in Nordegg, Alberta. Not knowing what to expect; I packed a lunch and some Nikes, picked up my friend from Edmonton and we drove for three hours listening to every genre of 90’s music on the way.
About 5 minutes into the hike our group was going down a steep embankment covered in loose rock. The kind of steep that you should descend one of two ways: slide on your butt and grab every piece of anchored foliage on the way down, or if you’re over 6’2 and very athletic- just run down it. I chose option two like the person before me, but unfortunately I’m not really either of those things and ended up tumbling head over feet most of the way down.
I was surprisingly unscathed, despite a few gashes and scrapes. After crisscrossing and rock hopping through a creek for another kilometer or so, we shortly found ourselves at a little waterfall. I was airing out my scrapes and enjoying a handful of trail mix when when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to find a lady with a concerned look on her face and a finger full of Polysporin.
“I’m sorry… but I’m a mom and can’t help myself- can you please put some of this on?”
Welcome to the Canadian Rockies.
Intrigued by the brilliant turquoise water of Abraham Lake, my teacher-friend and I strapped our paddle boards to the top of my Volvo station wagon and set off for Nordegg the next summer. I was secretly anticipating the initial view of the lake as we drove the David Thompson, glad I could witness the awe of an Abraham Lake virgin. Our excitement was soon diminished when we couldn’t seem to find a way onto the lake. Sure there were some accesses to the shore, but the wind was so strong on the lake, after a quick and scary paddle out, we decided we didn’t want to die that day.
We were eating lunch at the David Thompson Resort when a man pulled into the parking lot, paddle board on his roof racks. We ran out and asked him where we could get onto the lake safely. He looked at us hesitantly, then explained:
“No. You don’t paddle this lake. I work with search and rescue and people die here all the time.”
But we had come all this way and damned if we weren’t leaving with some pictures of us on the lake.
Somebody did die that that day. A wind gust took Krista’s paddle board off the roof of the Volvo. It was never to be paddled again.
Two years later I returned to Nordegg with another group of friends to do the same trek. I had discovered a love for hiking and the outdoors, had more than a few decent hikes and much more experience now. Or so I thought. Turns out a creek in the Rockies is much different in May than late summer. There was still a bed of snow and ice at the fall and the water was fast, high and freezing cold. It was difficult to maneuver across the rocky bed with numb feet and a strong current, but the towering rock faces and blazing spring sunshine suppressed any complaints our group might have considered.
If you ever find yourself in the Canadian Rockies and want a more primitive hiking experience, follow the David Thompson to Nordegg. Don’t worry about reservations, but remember your head lamp. Maybe a map too. And your dog.
Jolena lives in Rich Valley, Alberta- an extra small place you’ve never heard of. She is a teacher who loves to spend weekends and summers outdoors in places without cell service. She loves backpacking with her husband, friends, beef jerky and St.Bernard, Norma. Follow Jolena’s adventure’s on Instagram!
Halfway across the country and back in 35 days- Part 1
By: Michael Grice
First three things you think of when you hear the words road and trip? Freedom, best friends, or maybe a mini vacation? Well you’re wrong! I’m not talking about a long holiday weekend or a weekend warrior trip; I’m talking about a month long, breathtaking, home is where you park it kind of road trip. First three things that personally come to mind are two songs and a book. The greatest book about freedom, “On the road” by Jack Kerouac, “Running on empty” by Jackson Browne and “Take it easy” by The Eagles.
June 2017, I quit my full-time job/career of thirteen years to go back to school and begin a new career path. Venturing on my new path in life, I decided to buy a cap for my truck and built it out for sleeping. I started researching places to visit with my portable home, which lead to a short conversation with a friend about the adventure that could await us. A couple weeks of last minute planning took the idea of a road trip to a fully loaded truck, two stand up paddleboard, a cooler full of beer, snacks and grilled cheese necessities.
I left New Jersey on Sunday July 23rd, picked up Natalie at her family’s house in New Hampshire and set out route for Niagara Falls. After a quick picture of the falls we drove for what felt like hours to Michigan for night number one of camping in the truck. Michigan was okay; it did include a few hours on the paddleboard. Our time in Michigan was short, to skip through the BS we drove from NH through VT, NY, Canada, MI, WI, MN, to SD. The true adventure began in South Dakota with a Couple of hours in the Badlands National Park with some breathtaking views and incredible photo opportunities. This was followed by a quick stop at Mount Rushmore for yet some more amazing photo ops before hunting down a place to park and set up camp in the Thunder Basin National Grasslands for night number two. We parked, set up camp and made a fire just in time for an incredible sunset that included an even better sunrise the following day.
We packed up the next morning and drove through some of the most incredible National Forests Wyoming has to offer! Bighorn, Ten Sleep, and Shoshone National Forests had some of the most picturesque views I had ever seen. The next three days expressed everything this road trip was about and why it was worth every minute on the road. Yellowstone, one of the most over-rated and overly crowded National Park I had ever been to. The springs were gorgeous on the other hand and made the crowds well worth it. We ended our day outside the National Park in Shoshone National Forest for camp. This location was surreal with no cell service for three days making it one of the best parts of the trip. Completely free of distractions and zero reasons to worry about anything, except if a grizzly was nearby.
Yellowstone was an amazing experience but came nowhere close to the views, camping and the overall experience of Grand Teton National Park! The jagged outline of the Tetons across the horizon was and is probably the greatest single view I have ever witnessed in person. We spent day one paddle boarding Jackson Lake with the Tetons looming high above us reflecting off the early morning glassy water. We finished up our day wandering around the town of Jackson for dinner and driving up to the summit to catch a glimpse of the sunset before trekking back into the unknown in search of a campsite. We came across an area by map in Bridger-Teton National Forest and set up camp for both nights in an area off a winding dirt road along a semi dried up riverbed, nowhere near civilization with nothing but endless stars, great company and a campfire that would make any weekend camper envious.
Day two in Grand Teton National Park and the final day of this road trip resulted in wandering around Teton Village and Jackson Hole. This was followed by a long drive to Boulder Colorado to part ways as I continued my road trip adventure and my friend went back to reality. This unforgettable trip of seven days may have been coming to an end, but the journey and the drive to travel had only just begun for me. Stay tuned for part two to find out where the next twenty-eight days takes me on the best road trip of my life!
“All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road.”
‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac
You can follow Mike’s adventures on Instagram
You can also follow Mike’s friend Natalie on Instagram too!
Written by: Josh Ryan
I have always been into the great outdoors, I grew up in a small town in Vermont and try to do things outside as much as I can. A couple of years ago I decided to get into hiking in the Adirondacks and ultimately, hike the Long Trail in Vermont. I knew I was going to have to find and buy gear that will last and perform the way I hoped it would. If you haven’t found the site yet, you should check it out, OutdoorGearLab.com, they review a lot of gear and its a good place to start. I started with OGL (Outdoor Gear Lab) for most of my gear except a handful of items.
I also don’t like to pay retail for gear. When I first started hiking, I bought used gear from replay sports and Craigslist. I had a pair of Keen boots I used for work and an old Kelty bag I had from high school. I like to think that you get what you pay for, and most of the time I feel like it’s true, but not always. I am by no means telling anyone to go out and spend tons of money on brand name gear, I just want people to enjoy the outdoors and find stuff they’ll like. I am slowly upgrading gear and finding what works and doesn’t work for me. I have found some great gear and some that just wasn’t worth the time of day. My big thing is, I read a lot…gear reviews, gear tests, gear this and gear that, I just like to know what works for others that used it in the same way I intend on using it. When I was planning my Long Trail hike, I started following AT hikers on Instagram and talking to them to see what worked for them on their 2000+ mile adventure. Everyone I talked to seemed to be happy to help and I learned some good things. All of that is easy, when you talk about it, but when it comes down to using everything, that’s when you see what actually works. Please do not go buy gear and never use it before you go into the wilderness. I can’t say it enough, use your gear before going out, just do it. Go to the park, go to your best friends, go anywhere you can and try it out and get to know it and how it works before you go out and actually need to use it. I bought a WBBB (warbonnet black bird xlc hammock and mamajamba tarp) for hiking the Long Trail and overnights in the ADK. I only used it a couple of times outside of hiking in the park but I am glad I used it beforehand. I had to set it up a few times in the dark, thank god for headlamps and patience.
I find myself rambling on about things but I do hope someone can take something away from this blog. I will be writing more and the more I write the better my info will be, and I will try to touch on a bunch of different subjects. Feel free to hit me up on my IG as well and maybe I can answer some direct questions on there.
Josh is 35, resides in Vermont, The Green Mountain State, and home of The Long Trail. He likes to spend as much time outdoors as he can, be it snowmobiling, working on becoming an Adirondack 46er(12 of 46) or just walking a back road. He has a Redbone Coonhound, named Cooper and is a Visual Merchandising Specialist at Hubbardton Forge, in Castleton, VT. Follow Josh’s adventures on Instagram.
Mountains inspire opposing feelings. Feelings of being tall and small simultaneously. Ego can reveal itself while mountaineering and in my experience, any extreme sport for that matter. In contrast, there are also opportunities to become vulnerable, trekking on the outside of our comfort zone. How do you find balance when there is so much going on externally and internally when attempting an unknown summit (Direction, safety, maslow’s hierarchy of needs, beauty and nature, photos, meeting like-minded folks,etc)?
In the last 10 years, I’ve finally started to realize while summiting and not summiting, I’ve become a risk manager. Although my parents describe my brother (we go on a lot of hikes together) and I as risk takers. We are aware of the risks, but we push ourselves anyway. The stories about having to bail out on a hike, I believe are my favorite stories. The last time this happened that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face because it was blizzarding so hard.(Last year, December 22nd on Pikes peak). My brother is born on the winter solstice and he always plans a “death march” as he calls it. This year we just went camping and stayed up to watch the meteor shower! Everyone thought we were nuts when packing up the car and it being snowing and freezing outside. We got to Penitente Canyon, presently a beautiful popular climbing spot with American Indian petroglyphs and Virgin of Guadalupe painted high on a canyon wall left there by Los Hermanos Penitentes, a Spanish religious sect that favored Penitente Canyon for its solace in the 1880s. This is how the canyon got its name. Anyway, it was like the heavens opened up, the sky was clear, and it really wasn’t that cold (-4 degrees).
The last major trekking trip I went on was to hike two 14ers in the same weekend… Wetterhorn (class 3) and Handies (class 1) with my best friend Nikki. Needless to say we rocked it on Wetterhorn, on the top it got sketchy. In fact a gentlemen, thank goodness for him, caught us going up the class 4 route. He said “where are you guys going.” And I was like” uh, to the top!” On the right trail we approached the top by climbing up a steep wall, definitely stepping/crawling outside our comfort zone. At the top we took real selfies of our bare butts.
The next day we had planned to do our first sunrise summit on Handies peak, a considerably shorter hike than Wetterhorn. We got lost in the dark, took a wrong turn and felt pretty dumb. We couldn’t bag an easy class one … whoops! The sunrise was gorgeous, we were safe and we were still very high up. You never know exactly what will happen in life as mountaineers and risk managers but we are aware of the outcomes. Keep pushing your comfort zone but know when to bail. Also, learn how to read a map, bring one, know where you’re going! Understanding your ability and what your level of acceptable risk is, is an important first step before heading out on your next adventure.
Follow MK’s adventures on Instagram!
Bidding 2017 adieu wasn’t a difficult task for the general population, and we are stoked about the possibilities of awesomeness that 2018 will hopefully bring. Our family has some amazing (A.Maz.Ing.) adventures already planned this year that we are excited to share with you and we have some fun stuff coming to Live and Let Wander as well!
We’ve enlisted the help of some fellow wanderers, adventurers, photographers, travelers, and all around cool folks from all around North America to contribute to the blog and share their general badassery with us all. We’ve either enjoyed following their stories via the interwebs, adventured with them IRL, or admired them from afar, so we are thrilled and appreciative that they are going to be sharing their outdoor love with Live and Let Wander.
Here’s to many new adventures, good memories, and a lot of love in 2018!
Elisa & Matt (& the crew…)