Forging ahead with a winter adventure

Forging ahead with a winter adventure

Less than 2 hours from Syracuse, Old Forge and the western Adirondacks makes for a lively day trip even in the dead of winter.
Published: January 21, 2021
Old Forge postcard style collage

On short winter days when the snow is already piled high in Syracuse, heading north may not seem like a natural choice. But a less-than-two-hour trek to Old Forge may convince you otherwise.

Already known as a popular summer destination for tourists, Old Forge and its surroundings in the western Adirondack Mountains has attractions, restaurants, scenic views and offers a change of scenery for those looking to have fun indoors or out.

Each year thousands of tourists come to the “Snowmobile Capital of the East” to experience the hundreds of miles of groomed snowmobile trails throughout the region. People also come to ski or snowboard at McCauley Mountain and to hike to the top of Bald Mountain. Hikers can take the easy loop trail to the 2,350-foot summit where they can climb the Rondaxe Fire Tower for an astonishing view of the Fulton Chain Lakes to the south.

Explore Old Forge

Scan the QR code or click the photo below for an interactive tour of Old Forge and the surrounding Adirondacks.

QR Code for Old Forge virtual tour

In downtown Old Forge, the Strand Theatre is both a working movie theater and a living museum with a collection of original movie cameras from decades ago and class posters lining the hallways to the theaters where first-run movies show on a daily basis.

Old Forge Hardware across the street carries more than just tools and paint. Billed as “The Adirondacks Most General Store,” The multi-story building has everything from cookware to camping supplies. A block west on Main Street, visitors with a sweet tooth can make their way to The Candy Cottage for Tiger Butter fudge, nostalgic candies, and old school popcorn.

Delicious local restaurants line the streets of Old Forge, including Slickers (they have awesome sweet potato fries) to Keyes Pancake House to Daikers where the parking lot is lined with snowmobiles all winter long.

The Fulton Chain Craft Brewery, right around the corner from the seldom-used-in-the-winter water park, Water Safari, the brewery serves up original craft beers including the Go Fluff Yourself (peanut butter and marshmallow fluff) and a blueberry coffee stout.

A 10-minute drive to the eastern edge of Fourth Lake is the quiet hamlet of Eagle Bay where the Donut Shop serves up old-school fry cake donuts, coffee, and recently added subs.

View of Fulton Chain Lakes from atop Bald Mountain near Old Forge in the Adirondacks.
View of Fulton Chain Lakes from atop Bald Mountain near Old Forge.

After the snow melts

While exploring the Adirondacks this winter will surely be a memorable experiences, Old Forge is also a popular summer destination for tourists. The town of about 500 residents swells by tens of thousands as visitors rent cabins and lodges along the surrounding lakes.

Among the draws is the 65-year-old Enchanted Forest Water Safari, which is billed as the state’s largest water theme park with more than 50 rides and attractions. Old Forge Lake Cruises ferries thousands of sightseers every summer 15 miles roundtrip on a two-hour tour of the Fulton Chain Lakes from First to Fourth lakes sharing the water with kayaks, canoes and party barges.

Once the leaves change

In the fall, the trip to Old Forge is worth it simply to see the colors of the leaves. Whether you’re driving, riding, or hiking, the Adirondacks treat visitors to some of the most vivid scenery in the Northeast. Taking a chairlift to the top of McCauley Mountain provides a canvas-like landscape of red, orange, yellow, and purple leaves.

Skiers take the chairlift up McCauley Mountain.
Skiers take the chairlift up McCauley Mountain.