Mud season. In Adirondack State Park in upstate New York, mud season comprises much of April and May, as the snow atop the mountains melts and cascades downward, saturating the ground with water, turning anything not paved into a swampy, muddy mess. Hiking trails turn into mud bogs. More critically, the vegetation atop the mountains is incredibly vulnerable to damage, especially from hikers trampling through the woods and trails. Meanwhile, many lakes remain at least partially covered in snow and ice, despite warming temperatures (via
Adirondack.net). The ADK is a place of outdoor attractions – hiking through forests, boating on lakes and rivers, climbing mountains, and much of that is inaccessible (or difficult) during mud season. Many business owners take mud season as a time to close down, make renovations, update their inventory, or even take vacations of their own. For two intrepid explorers, however, mud season is yet another great time to visit the Adirondacks!
On a beautiful, if chilly, Easter weekend, my wife and I headed to upstate New York to spend a few days with a dear relative. I have ventured into the Adirondacks during mud season before – eagle-eyed readers might remember
the time I climbed Eagle Cliff in early May a few years ago. However, I had never been in the park during the heart of mud season in April. Still, neither rain, nor snow, nor the depths of mud season stop my wife and I from making our appointed rounds!
So come along, then, on another journey to northern New York. Along the way we’ll eat great food, get some cool drone photos, and spend time with family.
A Mud Season Adventure
The round-trip route: our weekend adventures would involve nearly 700 miles of driving over a three day weekend.
We left early on Friday morning, and slightly over an hour later, were crossing into New York. One benefit of traveling early on a holiday weekend? Zero traffic the entire way. The cars in this photo were the most “traffic” we’d encounter on the entire drive.
After several hours of driving, we stopped in the town of Whitesboro, NY (outside of Utica) to meet up with my wife’s aunt for lunch at City Cafe, a restaurant and bakery that is 100% gluten-free and dairy-free. I had the fried chicken sandwich (topped with barbecue sauce), my wife had the fried fish sandwich, and my wife’s aunt had the Cali Chicken sandwich (grilled chicken breast with lettuce, tomato, avocado, onion, and chipotle mayo). Our sandwiches were amazing – and none of us could tell that the brioche bun was gluten-free. The fries were fantastic, and instead of ketchup, were served with a special “fry sauce.” If you go to City Cafe, pass on the ketchup and try the fry sauce – it’s out of this world!
If you have food allergies and want to enjoy a sandwich or a cake, without worrying about gluten or dairy products, then City Cafe is the place for you! Before leaving, we loaded up on cupcakes… money well spent!
We arrived at our relative’s house mid-afternoon. While spring is underway for much of the nation, winter continues its hold onto the Adirondacks. Fourth Lake was still mostly covered by ice and snow.
I drove to Old Forge to pick up dinner at a local diner. On the way down, I had NY 28 all to myself. This is one of my favorite roads to drive – s-curves, elevation changes, off-camber bends, and long straightaways, all with a 55-mph speed limit. With no cars ahead of me or in my rearview mirror, I grinned for the entire ten-mile drive. Mud season isn’t so bad!
In less than two months, the downtown section of Old Forge will be jam-packed with people. On this Friday afternoon, I found parking with ease, and scarcely saw another soul.
While open restaurants are few and far between during mud season, Walt’s Diner remains in operation year round. You can’t ever go wrong with dinner from a diner!
Walt’s has a Friday Fish Fry special, so my wife and I both had the broiled haddock, while our relative had the fried haddock. The coleslaw was very good, but the star of my meal was the macaroni salad – A+!
While there was no mountain climbing in the plans, I did put my drone aloft for some sunset photography after dinner… this view never gets old!
The next morning, my wife and I spent some time exploring Old Forge, NY. I grabbed a glamour shot in front of Old Forge Pond.
Even in the quiet of mud season, there is still plenty to do in the Adirondacks! We stopped by the View Center for Culture & Arts in Old Forge. View was founded in 1951 and moved into its current space in 2011. It offers art galleries featuring local artists, a performance space, art classes for youth and adults, and other forms of social and cultural engagement.
From April 8 until June 4, 2023, the museum is hosting the 72nd Annual Central Adirondack Art Show.
The exhibition includes any type of media, aside from film and sound, and every work was created within the last two years.
First place for 3D sculpture went to Anastasia Osolin for her work, The Big Questions.
While Adirondack Drama (lower left) won First Place for Painting, one of my favorite works was Harassed!, a photograph of a rather startled heron (top left).
Faux Hawk by Edwin Falk was another of my personal favorites. Many of the works are available for purchase – this sculpture can be yours for $2,750. After enjoying our walk through the galleries, we departed View for our next destination.
After spending some time running errands and shopping, our next stop was a fuel-up at Blue Line Coffee House (of course!). That’ll be a Birch iced latte for me (left) and an almond milk cappuccino (right) for my wife.
I also snagged a photo of one of my favorite photographic subjects in Old Forge.
After lunch, we drove over to another preferred photography spot, Quiver Pond, which remains mostly covered in ice. Putting the drone aloft made for some cool photographic opportunities.
As I slowly turned the drone around in the sky, I realized that on the other side of the tree line was a familiar body of water – Fourth Lake! It was a completely different view of the lake than what I am accustomed to seeing.
The ice along the eastern edges of Quiver Pond is slowly starting to melt. The drone also gave an interesting view of South Shore Road (left side of image).
Given that we would be driving home during Easter Sunday, we had our holiday dinner on Saturday night – ham, green beans, and sweet potatoes made for a fantastic, home-cooked meal!
Before diving into dessert (cupcakes from City Cafe), I put the drone into the sky one last time and took my favorite shot from the entire trip – a sunset over the mountains.
Waking up before dawn, my wife and I said goodbye to our relative and began the long drive home. At least NY 28 was quiet as we headed south – hardly any traffic was on the road. We saw more deer than we did other cars.
A couple hours from home, we stopped in the town of Beacon, NY for lunch at Kitchen & Coffee, a restaurant that specializes in vegan and gluten-free food and bakery items.
As adventurous of an eater as I can be, sometimes I just want a basic, tasty meal… in this case, one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve ever had! My wife had a sweet potato burger (a burger made of sweet potato, black bean, and quinoa), and we split a vegan and gluten-free chocolate chip cookie, enjoying it all at one of the cafe’s outdoor tables. Fueled up, we were ready for our final push home.
After a couple more hours, we were home! The Accord crossed another milestone, this time putting 215,000 miles in the rearview mirror. It remains a trusty road trip companion, ready to gobble up miles (and twisty mountain roads) with ease. Onward! Updates
Just a few updates from the garage. First, Grace, our 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, recently passed the 96,000 mile mark. Grace is currently in the shop, however, to have a persistent rattling noise addressed (along with some other routine maintenance). More on that in the next post!
Meanwhile, my Accord also had a repair of a different sort. I began to have a leak from one of my front tires, and the tire shop found a nail in the sidewall. As the nail was in a location where the tire couldn’t be fixed, I had to buy two new tires for the front of the car. I had planned to get new tires this summer, so this isn’t the end of the world, but talk about an unexpected expense!
Finally, a quick update from my friend Justin, who recently rolled a million miles in his 2003 Honda Accord. His car is now at 1,07,815 miles, and next weekend he’ll be racking up even more distance, as he is a VIP guest at HDay, the yearly gathering of Honda enthusiasts in the United States. This year’s event will be in Mechanicsville, Maryland, and Justin will be driving there from Texas. If you go, look for his car on display in the VIP section, and say hello! Wrapping Up
No matter the time of year, Adirondack State Park in New York is a wonderful spot to enjoy nature at its finest. Even mud season has its benefits – the park is quiet, with tourists few and far between, and you can still appreciate the natural wonder all around you. If you have not ever visited the Adirondacks, pack a bag, gas up the car, and go!
Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read of another journey down the open road ahead.
‘Til next time.
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2 thoughts on “Mud Season.”
Looks like it was a great trip! The drone shots were beautiful but the picture of the yellow boathouse and dock is such a great picture! That is definitely one to consider entering into a contest for sure!
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It was a really fun, if short, trip up north. Glad you liked the boathouse photos – it’s one of my favorite subjects to photograph around Old Forge!