(Lake George) In mid-December, the village of Lake George seems dormant. On Rue du Canada, its main artery, several businesses appear closed. The portrait contrasts with the frenzy found there in summer, when the village is teeming with tourists. On the other hand, we will have the impression of having it for ourselves and of entering into its intimacy.
The context is cozy to contemplate the mountainous landscapes of the Adirondack massif, in northeastern New York State. Nestled in the hollow of the mountains, on the banks of the immense body of water of Lake George, the village and the region of the same name do not lack charm under a white veil. Located a three-hour drive from Montreal, this land of conifers, blessed with postcard-perfect photogenic views, is also home to charming villages that can be discovered during a short weekend getaway with family or lovers.
The municipality had its lesson last year: after experiencing failures with its ice castles due to a particularly mild winter, it changed its mind and contacted the Montreal studio Moment Factory to create Winter’s Dream, an immersive experience installed in Fort William Henry which will not be subject to the vagaries of the weather.
This new feature is in addition to that of Winter Realms where there is an ice rink in a fanciful setting intended for children. This winter kingdom will soon be home to ice sculptures… if winter stays below freezing!
The region is a playground for winter sports enthusiasts. Its hundreds of kilometers of forest trails make it a favorite place for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. As soon as the cold season sets in, its lakes are transformed into ice rinks and are open to ice fishing.
The area also has no shortage of attractions for skiers, snowboarders and climbers. Gore, with its peak at 3,518 feet, is the second peak in the Adirondack Park after Whiteface Mountain. Its ski resort, located 35 minutes north of the village of Lake George, has 107 trails and 15 lifts.
Small (1,010 feet above sea level) but family-friendly, Mount West, located in Glens Falls, is more accessible to beginners and open in the evening. We go there for skiing, boarding or tubing. Cross-country skiers will instead head for the Nordic complex, located in the same area, and will find several other circuits in the region.
With over 400 years of tumultuous history, the Lake George area is rich in historic sites and museums. In the 17th century, the bloody war between the French and English, and their native allies, was fought in part on the shores of Lake George. It was upon returning from a stay in the Adirondacks that James Fenimore Cooper wrote The Last of the Mohicans, the story of which takes place during the War of the Conquest (1754-1760) and describes, among other things, the battle of Fort William Henry. The main characters find refuge in one of the caves in the region. The one that inspired the author, Cooper’s Cave, is located in Glens Falls, but is closed until spring. However, you can take a guided tour of the Pottersville Caverns all year round.
At the dawn of the industrial era, the river became a transport location for millions of logs. The wood and paper industry contributed to the economic growth of the region. Millionaires Row, which runs 10 miles along the lakeshore between Bolton Landing and the village of Lake George, is a testament to its golden age. At the turn of the 20th century, well-heeled vacationers built sumptuous summer homes there.
Today, opulent residences sit alongside a string of motels. The Erlowest, built in 1898 by a wealthy Brooklyn lawyer and politician, is one of the few homes that has retained its former opulence. Now converted into an inn, it displays its period moldings and stained glass windows, its parlor and its fashionable dining room. Erlowest is open all year round. Its idyllic setting makes it a popular venue for winter weddings or couples getaways.
Further on, on the same road, we reach Sagamore Villa, in Bolton Landing. The hotel, built in 1883 on a private island – one of 170 on the lake – has become an elegant resort complex accessed by a small bridge. Among the amenities: two swimming pools, one of which is heated outdoors, a leisure area, a restaurant and a spa to which a salt chamber was added this year. The place, open on weekends in winter, is one of those where you enter and no longer need (or want) to leave. Every evening, s’mores are offered by the campfire.
If Lake George bundles up in winter, the same is not true for Glens Falls, which is active all year round. Located 15 minutes south, the city has three museums. The Hyde houses an astonishing collection of European and American art. Until December 31, it also hosts two temporary exhibitions which give the opportunity to discover several sketches by Edgar Degas as well as abstract landscapes by photographer Ron Jude.
In old Glens Falls, we will take a look at the Queensbury Hotel, built in 1926, which is one of the architectural beauties of the city. You can stop there longer to have a bite to eat in one of its heated domes. Leave some time to stroll between Glen and Maple streets, in the historic quadrangle which is home to nice boutiques, cafés and distilleries.