Explore Like a Local – Adventure on Land and Lakes in Inlet, New York

his article along with others written by me can be found at EMS.

The Adirondack town of Inlet, New York resides on the east end of Fourth Lake, which is part of the Fulton Chain of Lakes. This ideal location makes Inlet a perfect base for hiking and paddling adventures, and the town itself punches above its weight and is home to some excellent eateries.  Often overshadowed by neighboring Old Forge, this guide to exploring Inlet like a local will help you discover why this small town should be added to your summer travel bucket list.

Hiking

Inlet is a perfect basecamp for day-hiking the peaks and lakes of this corner of the Adirondacks, with several attractive trails within a 10 minute drive from town. Rocky Mountain Summit, rising above the north shore of Fourth Lake, provides a birds-eye view of the lake and the surrounding wilderness. At only 1.0 miles roundtrip and 433 feet of elevation gain, Rocky Mountain is a perfect sunrise or sunset hike.

For a longer hike, check out nearby Black Bear Mountain, which has several trails that can be connected for a hike ranging in distance from 4 to 7 miles in total. While the lakes of the Fulton Chain aren’t quite as prominent from the summit of Black Bear Mountain as compared to Rocky Mountain Summit, Black Bear has the advantage of being less trafficked and provides a better chance of finding some solitude.

For possibly the best views in the region, head to Bald Mountain, which is home to the Rondaxe Fire Tower. This 2-mile round trip trail is easy by Adirondack standards, but, then again, is there actually such a thing as an “easy” trail in these mountains? Special care should be taken if attempting this trail in wet conditions, as several steep sections of rock could prove tricky to navigate when wet and slippery. After a mile of hiking and a little over 400 feet of elevation gain, you’ll arrive at the fire tower. While the view is nice from the base of the fire tower, the best view is obtained from climbing the tower, where Fourth Lake can be seen in the distance and the hikers at the base of the tower are dwarfed by the seemingly endless Adirondack wilderness.

If you climb all three of the aforementioned peaks, you’ll have just completed the Fulton Chain Trifecta hiking challenge.

Mountain peaks aren’t the only hiking options near Inlet, and treks to beautiful ponds and lakes include the Bub and Sis Lake Trail, Moss Lake (which is also a great paddling spot), and Cascade Lake.

Paddling and Camping

The bevy of rivers, lakes and pond that surround Inlet make this an excellent destination for kayaking and canoeing, and these watery havens are often home to beautiful campgrounds. Fourth Lake is an easily accessible paddling destination, especially when staying in one of the many lake-front lodging options. Even though Fourth Lake is developed, loons are still a common sight, and their hauntingly beautiful calls can often be heard echoing across the lake, especially early and late in the day. Alger Island, a roughly 1 or 5 mile paddle from the boat launch on the west or east end of the lake, respectively, is home to a 15 site boat access only campground that is a great paddling destination whether as a daytrip or an overnight.

As previously mentioned, Moss Lake, located in the Fulton Chain Wild Forest, is a great spot for paddling. A short carry from the parking lot leads to a sandy beach perfect for launching a canoe or kayak, and the lack of development on the lake gives it a true wilderness feel. Loons are a common sight and sound here, and you might even get lucky and see a nesting osprey couple on the island in the middle of the lake. Several backcountry campsites are located along the shore of Moss Lake, making this lake a perfect spot for a weekend camping, hiking and paddling trip.

Seventh and Eighth Lakes, at the eastern end of the Fulton Chain, are a pleasure to paddle, especially the quiet inlets between the two lakes around the corner from the boat launch off of Route 28.  Eighth Lake is home to a beautiful waterfront campground.

Two additional paddling and camping destinations are Browns Tract Pond  and Limekiln Lake. Browns Tract is a 20-minute drive from Inlet and is a quiet (no motor boats allowed) and scenic paddling locale. As an added bonus, rocky cliffs on the island in the lake make for a perfect launchpad for jumping into the cool water of the pond on a hot summer day. Limekiln is a larger (over 200 sites) and generally louder (motorboats are allowed) campground that still offers a slice of serenity and an opportunity to camp along an Adirondack lake. Kayak and canoe rentals are available at Limekiln for campers and day users alike.

Camping not your thing? No worries, as Inlet is home to many lodging options that will put a roof over your head and get you off the dirt.

Eating

For a town that’s barely 300 residents in size, Inlet has some outstanding dining options that are perfect for the famished adventurer. For post-hike pizza, wings, and beer (50 on tap!), it’s tough to beat Screamen’ Eagle, especially when dining on the pet-friendly waterfront deck in the rear of the restaurant on a sunny summer day.

To fuel a busy day of adventuring, head to Blue Line Coffee House and try one of their excellent specialty lattes, such as maple cinnamon.

For lunch, check out The Caboose. As the name suggests, it operates out of an old train caboose, and serves up delicious paninis. A bit further afield, Daiker’s has an expansive waterfront deck that looks out over Fourth Lake and is a 10-minute drive from Inlet. You’ll drive right by it on your way to and from the Bald Mountain trailhead from Inlet, and it thus makes a perfect pitstop for a drink and some grub after your hike.

Last but certainly not least, no summer trip is complete without some ice cream! Northern Lights Creamery is as good as it gets and is within walking distance of most of the restaurants in Inlet, making it a tasty and convenient way to cap off a day of summer fun in the Adirondacks. If you visit on a weekend in July or August, considering grabbing some ice cream before heading over to Arrowhead Park to enjoy some lakeside tunes at the Inlet Concert Series.

Photo of the Week

Maine’s Acadia National Park is stunningly beautiful any time of year, but the first half of June provides some extra flair when the lupines bloom. I used my macro lens to get this intimate shot of a bee visiting one of the flowers, and I was especially intrigued by the ball of pollen that the bee had collected on its leg. Prints Available.

Explore Like a Local – Springtime Adventure in Bar Harbor, Maine

This article along with others written by me can be found at EMS.

The Maine town of Bar Harbor is not only a fabulous coastal town filled with boutique shops, lodging accommodations, and restaurants serving up the freshest and tastiest lobster imaginable, but it also serves as an ideal base from which to explore the magnificent Acadia National Park. For a getaway that blends relaxation and fine dining with a bevy of outdoor adventure options, it’s tough to beat Bar Harbor, and this guide to exploring Bar Harbor like a local will ensure that you get the most out of a spring visit to this captivating seaside haven.

Watch the sun rise over the ocean

There’s no better way to start a day than by watching the sunrise, especially in a place like Bar Harbor when it rises over the ocean and bathes the rugged granite Acadia coast in warm light. A short drive south from Bar Harbor leads to the Ocean Path Trail, which hugs the rocky coast and offers uninterrupted views to the east that facilitate watching the bright orange orb of the sun poke above the distant horizon. Boulder Beach, set at the foot of Otter Cliff, consists of large boulders that have been smoothed and rounded over time by the action of waves, and is a popular area to watch and photograph the sunrise. However, there are endless, unnamed nooks and crannies along the Ocean Path where it’s more likely to find solitude that are a short walk from the various parking lots and pull-offs along the Park Loop Road.

Hiking

After sunrise, consider hiking the length of the Ocean Path before the crowds pick up. From Boulder Beach, it’s a 1.5 mile hike north to Sand Beach which, as the name implies, is a rare stretch of sandy beach that makes this a great place to take a refreshing dip in the chilly Atlantic Ocean before retracing your steps back to your car.

The Ocean Path is just one of many hiking trails in the vicinity of Bar Harbor. Two other coastal trails that are typically less crowded than the Ocean Path are the Compass Harbor Trail (0.8 miles out-and-back) and the Great Head Trail (1.8 mile loop). While these trails provide an intimate view of the Acadia coast, climbing one of the many mountains in Acadia will provide a different, bird-eye perspective of the ocean. The star of the show when it comes to summits in the park is without a doubt Cadillac Mountain. While the easy option is to drive to the summit, it’s also possible to earn your views by hiking the South Ridge Trail to the summit. Once at the summit, a network of trails leads to seemingly endless views of the rolling hills of Mount Desert Island with the ocean far below. Berry bushes and small wildflowers fill the cracks between the granite bedrock of the summit, which glows a beautiful orange-pink at sunrise and sunset, and makes an early or late voyage to the summit oh so worth it. While wandering the summit, be sure to stay on established trails and do the “ rock hop” to avoid trampling the fragile vegetation that’s found at the summit.

Looking for an adrenaline rush? Consider hiking some of Acadia’s ladder trails, which employ metal railings and ladders to allow hikers to clamber to unencumbered views.

Camping

The Bar Harbor area is blessed with a variety of private and public campgrounds that make it easy to turn a visit to Bar Harbor into a camping trip. Blackwoods Campground, located just off the Ocean Path near Otter Cliffs, is the largest campground in Acadia National Park, and has 281campsites. In addition to the Blackwoods Campground, several privately-owned campgrounds and cottages are available in the Bar Harbor vicinity. Camping not your cup of tea? Fret not, as Bar Harbor boasts a bevy of lovely bed and breakfasts and hotels. I’m particularly fond of the Atlantic Eyrie Lodge, with its ocean views, beautiful outdoor pool, complimentary breakfast, and pet-friendly rooms.

Eating

When it comes to dining in Bar Harbor, it’s all about the lobstah. These delicious crustaceans can be found at pretty much any restaurant in town, and it’s honestly hard to go wrong with any of them. For oceanfront dining right in town, head to Stewman’s Lobster Pound, but first stop at Paddy’s across the street for cocktails or a local blueberry beer and the to-die-for St. James crab and lobster dip loaded with fresh-caught crab and lobster. For a bit of a road-trip out of Bar Harbor, drive a half hour to Thurston’s Lobster Pound, where you can pick out your lobster of choice before having a feast with all the fixings while looking out at the boats that brought in your meal from the sea.

Carriage Roads

Acadia National Park is blessed with a vast network of carriage roads that crisscross the park and lead to lakes and trailheads. While these roads were once used extensively by horse carriages (and still can be used by horse riders today), they’re now primarily the domain of hikers, runners, and bikers. Biking in particular is an excellent way to explore the interior of the park on the carriage roads. Don’t have a bike of your own? Book a rental in town and then hit the carriage roads for a day of two-wheeled fun.

Climbing

The pink granite that is prevalent throughout Acadia National Park makes for excellent rock climbing. Popular locations for climbing include South Bubble, Great Head, and Otter Cliffs, which provides an exciting and rare opportunity to rock climb on a wall rising directly from the Atlantic Ocean.

Wildflowers

As if the rocky coast, lush mountains, and placid lakes didn’t bless the Bar Harbor area with enough natural beauty, in the spring numerous varieties of wildflowers add a special touch of color to the already magnificent landscape. Trails stemming from Sieur de Monts, such as the Jessup Path, are excellent places to look for wildflowers on foggy mornings. The showiest flower, the lupine, blooms in the first half of June, and provides gorgeous accents of purple, white and pink to meadowy areas of Mount Desert Island. A particularly dense patch of lupines can be found at Great Meadow. While viewing lupines and other wildflowers, be mindful to stay on established trails so as to not trample the delicate flowers, and never pick any flowers no matter how beautiful they might be.