The Adirondacks Are A Waterfall-Filled Pocket Of Paradise In Upstate New York

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In 2012, Emily King and Corey Smith started living an itinerant life, full of travel — quickly becoming the poster children for a new generation of young vagabonds. Their goal was to put experiences over things and memories over bank balances. For two young professionals climbing the corporate ladder in New York City, it was a major risk.

Six years later, the duo has more than 175 thousand followers on Instagram and a blog, Where’s My Office Now? — chronicling their journey around the country with their two adorable dogs. Though there have been plenty of breakdowns and near-meltdowns, the couple is forever grateful that they bet big on adventure. Their life is filled with a sense of discovery that few of their peers can rival. It’s also introduced them to pockets of the country that are seldom given media attention.

One of their favorite discoveries? The Adirondack region of upstate New York.

“We had no idea how amazing that area was,” Corey Smith says. “The vibe there is like, it almost feels like a Tahoe or California more than the east coast. We found so many waterfalls. The Adirondacks as a whole is a very unique place — beautiful and really pristine.”

Looking at Emily and Corey’s photos, it’s easy to understand why the couple fell under the Adirondacks’ spell. As a weekend trip, it’s easily doable from NYC, Boston, or Philly. Upon arrival, you have access to endless adventures in the park — which is the largest area of publicly protected land of any kind in the lower 48 states, larger than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Parks combined.

Smith and King had plenty of time to wander the park — hiking, kayaking, biking, and sleeping under the stars. We asked the vagabonding duo to break down their favorite adventures to help part-time adventurers plan a perfect weekend trip.

Adventure: Try a section of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail

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If you look at a map of the Adirondacks, it pretty much looks like there’s as much water as there is land. That includes part of a 740-mile canoe trail that runs through it, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. There are special boats that are made specifically in Adirondacks for this — they’re ultra lightweight pack canoes. You sit like you’re in a Kayak essentially. The trail actually goes from Canada over to Maine, but a big chunk of it is through the Adirondacks of New York. It’s really cool.

What section to pick: The Northern Forest Canoe site has tons of suggested routes and will guide you based on the level of difficulty and length of time you’re looking for.

Rent a canoe: Try St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, they also lead guided tours.

Relax: Spend The Day At Buttermilk Waterfall

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We also found some amazing waterfalls — we didn’t expect that at all. We ended up at this one particular waterfall, it’s a quick hike in from the road, called Buttermilk Waterfall. We were on a really tight schedule, but we spent nearly a day laying around in hammocks, fly fishing and taking hippie showers under the falls. We call it “hippie showers” when you get underneath the waterfall because you get to really scrub the grit out of your hair.

It’s just a really beautiful, little cascading waterfall. And there’s a good amount of aerated water around, which is what trout like, so we were able to fly fish there for a while. You’re not expecting it, but there are these endless creeks full of native trout.

How to get there: Buttermilk Falls State Park is located in Ithaca, NY — 112 E. Buttermilk Falls Rd. (Off Rt. 13 S) Ithaca, NY 14850

Sleep: Camping in John Dillon Park

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The Adirondacks is this really big park, and it’s interesting because it’s all been protected within that park but there are actually communities and private land — the park just has really strict guidelines on what those people can do within the park boundaries. There are tons of options both privately and through the park to stay.

We didn’t stay in any resort, any hotels, or anything. There are campgrounds everywhere — which is perfect for us. You can use a camping app, like Allstays, to find a campground.

Try Out: John Dillon Park in Long Lake, NY — the beautiful (and free!) campsite will help you get your bearings in the region before exploring further.

Thrill: Mountain Biking

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The Adirondacks are an amazingly beautiful area with many awesome nooks and crannies As a mountain biker I was thrilled with the many miles of awesome singletrack routes in Wilmington, New York. The number of trails, lakes, and rivers to explore seemed endless.

Rent a bike: Hit Planet Placid Bicycles in Lake Placid for a rental.

Trail to try: Go to Hardy Road (AKA Beaver Brook), located in the Wilmington Wild Forest to find a series of great trails made specifically for mountain biking, you’ll find trails for all levels.

Eat: Asgaard Farm and Dairy

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We really enjoyed seeing the working goat dairy at Asgaard Farm. It’s a really cool spot. They raise their own grass-fed beef. And they also have eggs from ducks and chickens. We went in there and loaded up on really good grass-fed, pastured meat. It was the home originally of Rockwell Kent, he’s a fairly famous painter, and he built this beautiful farm. The couple who bought it renovated it and turned it into a really beautiful organic goat dairy.

They have a really great little AirBnB on their property too.

Find it: 74 Asgaard Way, Au Sable Forks, NY 12912

Other Eats: The Adirondacks have some amazing eats, but there were a few spots that really stood out. If you want some extremely creative dishes and drinks, we would recommend Liquids and Solids At The Handlebar in Lake Placid, NY. Our favorite and a must stop is the Health Hub in Tupper Lake NY. This is a true ‘farm to table’ buffet-style restaurant. Cherrie and her family grow and source almost 80% of their organic dishes from the immediate area. This is a true down-home eating experience that is light on the wallet and extremely delicious.

Finally, while there are many ice cream stands throughout the park, nothing compares to Donnelly’s Soft Serve Ice Cream. They serve just one flavor a day and it’s the most creamy delicious homemade soft serve ever. We each got two cones.

Hike: White Face Mountains

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No Adirondacks trip is complete without a hike. Whiteface Mountain is by far one of the most famous hikes and for a good reason — it has amazing views and a unique high alpine tundra ecosystem. It’s this very beautiful mountain between Wilmington and Lake Placid. One of the steepest mountains is in the northeast and used mostly for skiing, but if you hike to the top, you can actually check out this really rare ecosystem which is essentially a tundra up on top of this mountain. The very small patches on the top have these really resistant plants that flower for only a few weeks a year. It’s really cool to see.

The trail: Whiteface Mountain Summit Trail is a 9.3 mile roundtrip journey near Lake Placid.

When to see the flowers: The best times to see wildflowers in the region is late spring to early summer.