Use your odometer for this tour from Lake Placid
Tupper Lake is a 40 minute drive from Lake Placid that takes you through some beautiful scenery. There are plenty of places to see and explore along the way. Follow these directions and explore your way to Tupper Lake.
Set your odometer to 0.0 at the stop light on Rt. 86 at Cold Brook Plaza. Just ahead is the outlet stream of Lake Placid, the large unseen lake that is shaped like a “figure 8" just to the north of the village of Lake Placid. The lake’s outlet flows into the Chubb River and then into the Ausable River, heading for Lake Champlain, about forty miles away.
At the top of the hill, development abruptly stops and deep forest begins. This is the beginning of a piece of land owned by the people of New York State and is part of the 2.6 million acres of “forever wild” land of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. For the next few miles you’ll see hundreds of thousands of pine trees planted in the 1930's by Civilian Conservation Corps workers to reforest the fire-ravaged hillsides in the area.
On the left, the Saranac Lake Golf Course is built on a rolling glacial sand deposit. In the distance is Seymore Mt. and Scarface Mt. Scarface has large open rock faces that give it the name. The large sand deposits extend all the way to Saranac Lake, about three miles ahead.
On the right are the offices of the two state agencies that manage the lands of the Adirondack Park - the Department of Environmental Conservation manages the public lands, like trails and campsites and the wildlife. The Adirondack Park Agency controls land use on both public and private land here, protecting the wild heritage of this six-million acre park.
On the left side of the road, notice the large number of dead trees. The forest here was flooded and killed by shallow beaver dams beginning in the early 1990's. If the beavers leave, the land will again become a forest. If flooding continues, the site will become a meadow of sedges and shrubs, adapted to a watery environment.
Cross the Adirondack Railroad Tracks. Now a scenic tourist train ride, but once a life-line of transportation into the heart of the Adirondacks. A few hundred yards ahead, on the left, is Turtle Pond, a small glacial kettle pond. (Formed when a giant piece of ice was left by the last ice age and partly buried).
At the bottom of the hill, notice on your right Lonesome Bay of Lower Saranac Lake, a four-mile long body of water nearly completely surrounded by state land and one of the most beautiful lakes in the Adirondacks.
At the new bridge, catch the beautiful view on the left of the Saranac River and the mountains beyond. The boat launch here is the main public access point to Lower Saranac Lake and the island campsites found there and on Middle Saranac Lake.
At the bottom of the long hill just past the parking area, you’ll cross a small stream called Halfway Brook. The name comes from its entry into the upper Saranac River, halfway between Lower and Middle Saranac Lake. It is considered a good brook trout stream, but hard to fish because of the alder shrubs lining the banks.
For the next three miles, Route 3 passes through land that was never logged because it was in state ownership since the 1870's. Notice the large size of the oldest trees—this is true old growth forest with the trees attaining an age of more than 350 years. Hemlock trees can live to be 650 years in the Adirondacks.
Ampersand Mt. Parking Lot is on the right. This lot offers trail access to Ampersand Mountain (3352 feet) which begins on the left side of the road. Hidden behind the lot is a half mile trail that leads to Middle Saranac Beach, a beautiful wild stretch of beach on the south shore of Middle Saranac Lake. The name Ampersand is believed to be derived from the color of the beach sand, a dark amber color.
Just past the parking lot, notice the rock cuts on the right side of the road. Anorthosite is the rock type here. It is a rare rock on earth, but forms much of the surface of our moon. Anorthosite can be light gray to almost black in color. It is a tough rock to erode and the highest mountains to the south, in the High Peaks Wilderness Area, are made of it.
South Creek is the main canoe access to Middle Saranac Lake, about one half mile to your right. The campsites on Middle Saranac Lake have a wild character because almost all of the shoreline is state land.
The parking lot and road on the right is known as Indian Carry. It was known since aboriginal times as the carry or “portage” for canoes from the Raquette River to Upper Saranac Lake - all the waterways to the north and east of this area. It is now part of the famous 100 mile canoe route from Old Forge to Saranac Lake through the heart of the Adirondacks.
At the bottom of the hill, notice the two main features in view to the right. Panther Mt. dominates the scene and a half mile trail leads to the top a short distance ahead. To the right is a beaver meadow that has been occupied by beavers for many decades as revealed by the bleached skeletons of dead trees that were killed by flooding a long time ago.
Wawbeek Corners is the junction of Route 30 and Route 3, so bear left here. Ahead and on the right, is a forest planted about a hundred years ago by Bernard Fernow, the president of the first forestry school founded at Cornell University. He tried to institute European forestry practices here, by using clear-cutting and burning to establish a new forest. His tactics so enraged wealthy landowners on nearby Upper Saranac Lake that they petitioned the governor who then withdrew funding for the whole forestry school.
On your left, notice the Raquette River meandering through a forest of silver maples and balsam fir trees. The Raquette River here is a still-water because of a large dam on the outlet of Tupper Lake that backs up the water for more than twenty miles upstream. You’ll be able to take a trail to the river from The Wild Center in Tupper Lake.
Entering the village of Tupper Lake at the top of the hill. To the right is a large state hospital for the developmentally disabled. The hospital was originally established as a major veteran’s hospital. Tupper Lake was once the lumbering capital of New York,with huge mills.
Turn left at Community Bank on your left to reach The Wild Center.
Turn left onto Museum Drive to enter the Museum grounds. Have a pleasant visit and learn about the fascinating natural history of the Adirondacks.