Category Archives: Parks

High Falls George and the Adirondacks’ Whiteface Region

2016-02-23 16.27.23Last week, I headed up to Lake Placid, a village in upstate New York. While seeing much of Lake Placid, I also spent some time exploring the Whiteface Region of the New York State’s Adirondack Mountains.

The Whiteface Region is a delight for nature lovers and outdoor sports fans. Whether a summer, winter, or even fall trip is planned , the region has a network of trails that alternate from hiking and mountain biking, to snowshoeing and skiing. Even fishing, particularly for trout, is big here during its season. Yet for those that prefer more of a walking place, consider starting off High Falls Gorge. Located off of NY-86E in Wilmington, about 10 minutes from Lake Placid, High Falls Gorge has self-guided trails at its 22-acre nature park that brings visitors in viewing distance of waterfalls or Adirondack forestry.

Located off of NY-86 E in Wilmington, about 10 minutes from Lake Placid, High Falls Gorge runs along the Ausable River. One of the gorge’s three trails coincides with the direction of the river, where you can walk along maintained routes, bridges, and pathways to view waterfalls (in winter, their frozen look is pretty spectacular). The other two trails involve one that is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs, while the other is steeper and a bit uneven. I walked along the yellow, which leads through various steps for viewing four waterfalls and surrounding trees.

Before and after going on these trails, head inside the Gorge’s Welcome Center for a bite to eat at the River View Café. This American-style restaurant serves lunch and dinner with five styles of wings, a ton of apps, salads, lunchtime sandwiches and dinner entrees and burgers.

Also in the Whiteface Region, serious hikers can make their mark in completing certain ranges hat are like being initiated into special clubs: the 46ers and 6ers. The 46ers refers to the 46 Adirondack High Peaks, which is this amount of mountains that with elevations ranging higher or lower than 4,000 feet. To get a good start, it’s probably best to consider the 6ers. They consist of six Adirondack peaks found at Saranac Lake, which is west of Lake Placid. Plus if you have climbed all six – and provide the dates of each climb and the approximate time of reaching the summit – you’ll get an official member number, patch and sticker.

In my next post, I’ll be listing more about my jaunts around Lake Placid. Stay tuned!


Editor’s note: Lake Placid CVB invited me as a guest to Lake Placid and Adironacks region. However, my posts are entirely based on my personal opinion.

Get Adventurous in Urban NYC with OutdoorFest

If the thought of exploring the great outdoors in New York City involves a lot of head shaking, Sarah Knapp will be quick to change your mind. She’s the organizer of OutdoorFest, a 10-day outdoor/adventure festival (May 30-June 8) happening across all five boroughs.

offmetrobanner4Using local resources to offering everything from hiking excursions and yoga classes, to sailing and surfing lessons, and even community service projects, OutdoorFest’s schedule of curated events cater to different activity levels and personal interests. Knapp recently shared with me what went into putting on this event and what she hopes New Yorkers get out of it.

Juhu and Ruth Surfing LH-4

OutdoorFest Founder Sarah Knapp -Credit: Larson Harley

Tell me how and why OutdoorFest got started.

OutdoorFest began in October 2013 when I left my job at an outdoor guiding company. I knew that the idea of an outdoor festival within a city was something that had enormous potential and was something that not only I needed, but many other New Yorkers I had met along the way as well.

How will this event change perceptions about having to leave NYC to enjoy the great outdoors?

One of our goals at OutdoorFest is to change the way we view our lives as city dwellers. Yes, part of New York’s identity is the “concrete jungle” but that doesn’t mean we can’t find hidden gems, that we can’t continue to pursue our passions in an urban environment, and that we can’t connect with people who do the same.

Yoga Beach by Tys

Where there any places within NYC that you were surprised to learn about? 

I always knew about surfing in the Rockaways but I never knew about the vibrant surf community out there. It’s really an incredible, supportive network for local outdoor athletes.

Are these various activities suitable for different levels?

They are definitely for different levels – which is actually one of my favorite parts of the outdoor community. OutdoorFest will be accessible to die hard enthusiasts as well as newbies looking to dip their toes in the water for the first time.

CentralPark by Ben T.
Offhand, I wouldn’t think of NYC having an outdoor community. What is this community like? And, of course, what would they get from participating in OutdoorFest?

New York’s outdoor community is definitely still growing – and I hope that OutdoorFest can provide support as well as inspiration for that year round. The community now is very much centered around niche sports – climbing, caving, running, surfing and on. I think the assumptions are that outdoor enthusiasts don’t live here when in fact they very much do. I think the contrasts that you find in New York’s community are fascinating: doctors, artists, and attorneys who also double as cyclists, paddlers and more.

OutdoorFest provides the structure to connect people to the local resources – that means both organizations and people. For both amateur and more experienced outdoor athletes this means new people to explore with, new places to go, and more organizations that support/share their passions.

Registration for OutdoorFest events is now under way. See a full schedule and sign up at Spaces can fill up quickly.

In Iceland’s Golden Circle, Gullfoss and Geysir

One of the most impressive waterfalls to see in Iceland is Gullfoss, no doubt. Found in Iceland’s southwestern region, and marking the endpoint of an area known as The Golden Circle, Gullfoss is definitely worth making at least an hour or so stop at this cascade.


Fed by the Hivítá river, these waters plunge into a crevice that is more than 100 feet deep. To me, the closest comparison would be Niagara Falls, as this Icelandic wonder also produces a mist and spray. For viewing, you can venture along Gullfoss via a pathway with a guardrail to get different angles. A second area for getting a closer viewpoint is on a rocky platform that you have to step up to get on top.

DSCN1044DSCN1041 DSCN1039What’s also interesting about this place is that it almost didn’t last in its true form. Its present existence is thanks to a woman named Sigríour Tómasdóttir, who fought her father (who owned the area around the falls) and the Icelandic government against building a hydraulic dam from being built in the 1920s. Though permission was given to construct the dam, the plans never went into place because of public outcry and later on Gullfoss became a protected reserve. You can learn more about the story through a plaque as well as see a statue in her memory.


Up the road from Gullfoss, you’ll find the Geysir geothermal area, an arrangement of bubbling hot springs. This area of blowholes gets pretty hot as the underground temperatures can reach up to or even over 100 degrees Celsius and force boiling water to gurgle over.


Being the most memorable to see, Strokkur spouts up like a fountain consistently about every 10 or so minutes. Less active ones here include Blesi, a set of twin bluish pools; Fata, which seems a bit temperamental; and Litli Geyser, a petite slosher.

Thingvellir National Park


While still in the Golden Circle, one important place to visit is Thingvellir National Park, a primary site of Iceland’s geological and historical inheritance. After first being under Norwegian rule and then the Danish crown, the country’s chieftains gathered here in the summertime for two weeks to hold court on making legal decisions for decades until the early 18th century.

DSCN1109 DSCN1105 DSCN1112Yet, the park still remains an important fixture in Iceland’s history. Its people gathered to hear their country’s declaration of independence from Denmark and becoming a republic in late 1944. History aside, definitely explore the park as well.

Seeing a Glacial Lagoon and Hiking through a National Park

On our fifth day along the southeastern part of Iceland, we headed out for a boat ride along Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon. This large, bright blue lagoon is situated between the ocean and an outlet glacier called Breiŏamerkurjökull. Chunks of floating icebergs that have broken off from Breiŏamerkurjökull float along the water and the whole setting is peaceful.

photo-74photo-76DSCN0913Before heading on the boat, climb up the gravel hill that overlooks the lagoon for great views and greater photo opportunities. The boat ride lasts a good enough time for picture taking as well. Our guide offered a good lesson about the lagoon’s formation as well as the weather conditions. You also get to touch a piece of ice, as your guide lifts up a section from the water. And if you can, you can hold a bigger and heavier part.

DSCN0928DSCN0942Many buses head out here for a look at Jökulsárlón but double check to make sure there you have time for the boat ride and for getting back. Another neat thing about stopping here is that the eatery/gift shop sells a beer called “Vatnajökull Frozen in Time.” Made by the Icelandic brewery, Ölvisholt Brugghús, this amber beer is brewed with glacial water. A bottle costs about $10 USD, but it is worth buying. Its taste is nice and clean.

And when you head past the bridge near Jökulsárlón, you will come across a black sand beach that has blocks of ice as well.


Next up, Skaftafell National Park, Iceland’s second largest national park, has quite a network of trails leading across this rugged landscape with valleys, mountain peaks and glaciers. There are large camping grounds here and the facilities are pretty equipped with a restaurant, small shop, bathrooms and washing machines.

photo-85We took a short but steep hike up toward the peaks and this path was quite a climb. Yet the view is worth the work as the views are almost like being in the Alps. Just watch yourself too, as the trails can be rocky and slippery.


Seeing Familiar Places and New Ones on Connecticut Open House Day

Indoors or outside, the weather was great this past Saturday, June 8 for Connecticut residents to check out our state’s annual Open House Day. With more than 100 attractions statewide participating, I decided to stick around Fairfield County to get reacquainted with two museums that I last saw as a child. Plus, one has a new neighbor that is worth climbing around.

Fphoto-24irst, I headed out to The Discovery Museum and Planetarium on Bridgeport’s Park Avenue, near the city’s border with Fairfield. A mainstay since I can remember, the three-level museum pays tribute to milestones in science, innovation, and exploration. On the main level, the museum’s “Adventure Science” section starts with a jungle gym set up that provides a miniature version of the Adventure Park located next door. Younger visitors didn’t hesitant to try it out, climbing, jumping and running around the structure.

Moving on across the wing, the next space shows how Bridgeport and other places in Connecticut made major strides in engineering such as Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, whose founder Igor Sikorsky is credited with launching the U.S. With space exploration, Hamilton Sunstrand Space Systems in Windsor Locks (now known as UTC Aerospace Systems) developed a portable life support system for NASA space suits worn by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong for the 1969 moonwalk.

Speaking of outer space, the lower level holds the museum’s Planetarium and a Challenger Learning Center, along with AV displays about the planets and enlarged photos of the  cosmos. Here youngsters can also go exploring with MoonBase Discovery, a section with shuttles for climbing inside and getting behind the wheel. Don’t forget to head up to the third floor for more hands-on activity with a mixture of exhibits highlighting energy in all its various forms.

photo-33Going back outside, my next stop was at The Adventure Park at The Discovery Museum, which is behind the museum’s property. Opened two years ago, the aerial attraction sits on five acres of woods in Veterans Memorial Park, with 11 different course levels that encourage you to climb, crawl, pull through and step across one platform to the next and reach the end point by zip lining.

Choose to stick in your comfort zone, starting with a new purple line, or perhaps challenge yourself to reach a level like the double black diamond (60 feet up). Go at your own place. Other things help put fears aside. The park’s crew members suit you up in a fitted harness and gloves and give clear instructions about the magnetic clips you’re given to get to each point.

And you’re not left hanging mid-course. Call for help by saying “staff,” which I did, and they will come. I finished with a needed upper body workout and a confidence boost.

Finishing out the day, I drove up to Stamford for a quick jaunt around the Stamford Museum & Nature Center, which is close to the Merrittphoto-43 Parkway. The 118-acre property has a nice mix of family activities: hiking trails, a working farm, a children’s playground, nature center, a nature preserve, and an observatory. Heckscher Farm is home to goats, sheep, pigs and chickens, with an organic vegetable garden and an animal embassy. Step inside Bendel Mansion and Museum Galleries to see the former summer home of New York designer and department store owner Henri Willis Bendel.

Even if Connecticut Open House Day is now closed, get out and see these places!