Top 5 Scenic Drives in the Adirondacks
Updated: Feb 2, 2022
Grab your keys and switch your smartphone to portrait mode! Here is a list of some of the most gorgeous drives you can take through the greater Glens Falls - Lake George, New York area any time of year.
We all know that the scenery in the Adirondack State Park in upstate New York is definitely worth writing home about. The picturesque mountains, the rivers and streams that flow down from their peaks and into some of the cleanest fresh water lakes in the country.
But how do you get to see and experience it all if you're not in the mood for a hike or to go rafting?
How about hopping in the car, turning on some music and going for a drive!? As someone who grew up in the area, this has always been one of my favorite ways to relax.
For a list of my Top 5 (favorite) Scenic Drives to take in the area any time of year, keep reading. All of the routes shown are one way and start in downtown Glens Falls, NY.
Glens Falls to Paradox Brewery
Take a drive a little further north on this route that is a fave of motorcyclists in the warmer seasons. This can be a drive you take on the highway, as shown here, or you can travel Route 9 for a slower-paced view of the mountain landscape. Whichever you choose, there's a cold craft beer at the end of the trek with your name on it. It's an Adirondack adventure win win.
Glens Falls to the Top Of The World
As you can see by the squiggly blue line that it highlighted on the map above, this drive takes you around the east side of Lake George on a path that hugs the mountain side as you get a view of the lake from higher up. It leads you to a right turn up Lockhart Mountain Road. During your ascent, you will have this image coming into view in your rearview.
The best view happens from the top as well as on your way back down the mountain. That's when you're facing the lake head on. You can take a right at the end of Lockhart Mountain Road to continue to explore the windy road around the lake and into the marshes.
Glens Falls to Bolton Landing
Start this one with either taking Route 9 or I-87 from Glens Falls the Lake George Village. The main intent of this drive will also be from Lake George to Bolton Landing.
"The Village", as it's known by the locals, is always a beautiful spot to enjoy the south end of the Queen of American Lakes. There are park benches, coffee shops, restaurants with decks that overlook the water. Also, just driving through will give you a really nice view of the lake.
If you drive north on Route 9 through the village of Lake George, the road splits just after the high school and veering right will lead you onto Lake Shore Drive. Arguably one of the most epically beautiful roads to drive on the entire lake, in my opinion.
Just a narrow two-lane street with a speed limit of 30 mph gives you the opportunity to take your time. Once past the castle (on the right) the road winds toward and away from the water giving you perfect views of the different bays and waterfront businesses that line the shore.
This slow-paced drive will lead you through Diamond Point and right onto Main Street in Bolton Landing. There's a park where you can... park (haha) and walk down to the water. There are little shops and restaurants, antique stores and gift shops. If you're in the mood for a hot beverage, or a killer breakfast, don't miss the Bolton Beans. Down a little ways on the left, this historic rail car was converted into a local favorite spot for breakfast and brunch. This throwback diner has become a landmark in the downtown Bolton landscape that you won't want to miss.
Spier Falls Road Dam
Next, let's drive south and change it up a bit.
Built in the very early 1900's, the Spier Falls Dam was the first dam constructed by the formed Hudson River Electric Company, for the sake of utilizing the waterways to generate power within various regions of upstate NY. This project ended up becoming the 4th largest damn in the country.
Overall, said Encyclopedia Americana, the wall was 1,800 feet long and 100 feet high. According to Engineering Record (June 1903), the wall’s highest section, measured from the river bed, was 154 feet. The 10 penstocks (water-carrying pipes) were 12 feet in diameter. The company purchased 1.5 million bricks from the Glens Falls Brick Company for building the powerhouse, which featured a wheel pit measuring 21.5 by 297 feet.
Today, you can still drive Spier Falls Road, located off of exit 17 of the Northway (I-87), and find the scenic overlook that gives you a rare bird's-eye view of this mammoth project and the beautiful Hudson River that it holds back.
Glen Lake Road
Having grown up riding my bike around this lake and spending evenings at the Docksider Restaurant enjoying dinner on the water with family, I'm a little partial to this next scenic drive.
Glen Lake Road run from the Great Wolf Lodge entrance on Route 9 all the way, well... to the end of the lake. The beginning of the road winds through the woods. As you approach the lake, the road sits up high above the lake and you start to get glimpses of this placid storybook scene through the trees.
At the bottom of a large hill with a steep right curve, you'll find the Docksider Restaurant, a favorite local watering hole and the best seat in the house year round to grab a drink and sit out on the water. The bays on the lake are home to osprey nests and it's not out of the question to watch a bald eagle swoop down and skim the surface of the water right in front of the restaurant. In the winter, local families usually clear off part of the ice on the lake right there at the boat launch to play hockey and go ice skating.
Don't bother having a list of local scenic drives if this magical little spot isn't on it.
Thanks for exploring our beautiful area! We appreciate you visiting!
If you decide to take any of these routes, definitely leave a comment, and share your experience and your photos! I'd love to know what you thought. Which scenic drive was your favorite?