Adirondack businesses to leaf-peepers: Come on up

Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day are the biggest weekends of the year for Adirondack t

Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day are the biggest weekends of the year for Adirondack tourism — but Columbus Day weekend has a similar economic impact.

Businesses across the Adirondacks that rely on tourism will be open and ready this weekend, despite the damage done to some main roads in the northern Adirondacks a little over a month ago by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.

“For the most part, all the main thoroughfares are open,” said Kim Rielly, communications director for the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is using social media such as Facebook to help get word out that things are getting back to normal.

People heading toward the High Peaks from the Northway may notice some new patches of pavement along Route 73 where state crews repaired washouts from the storm. They’ll see some signs of continuing construction activity, too, but shouldn’t expect any delays.

Route 73 — the main link between the Northway and the High Peaks — was closed because of damage in the immediate aftermath of the storm, but emergency repairs reopened it within a couple of weeks, re-establishing an economic lifeline for communities like Keene and Keene Valley.

“There’s still some shoulder work and that kind of thing going on, but all the roads are open,” said Carol Breen, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

The remaining construction projects will all be shut down for the weekend, Breen said, so they won’t delay motorists.

In Keene, flood damage included loss of part of the community’s firehouse, flooded residences and damage to some low-lying businesses, but the restaurants and shops on Route 73 there are generally open.

“We’re back to normal,” said Keene Town Supervisor William B. Ferebee.

Hiking trails are expected to be busy, and trail-side parking lots will no doubt be crowded.

“Traditionally and historically it’s been a big weekend for us,” Rielly said.

The High Peaks trails sustained significant storm damage and were closed, but almost all of them have now reopened, though the Department of Environmental Conservation warns people to be ready for debris, high water and other difficult conditions.

On the bright side, it looks like the weather will be ideal for Columbus Day weekend, and the coloration in the turning leaves will be nearing its peak in many Adirondack locations.

“The color will be there. Whether it will be peak, I’m not quite sure,” said Joanne Conley, Warren County’s assistant tourism director.

Warren County — well south of the area hardest hit by Irene — will be hosting dozens of community events designed to appeal to visitors.

In North Creek, an annual harvest fest, helicopter and gondola rides up the mountain will be offered at the Gore Mountain ski center. There will also be a street fair in the downtown, and brewfest nearby.

“We’re getting really excited about it. Over the last couple of years the community is becoming much more involved,” said Emily Stanton, a spokeswoman for Gore Mountain.

The Saratoga and North Creek Railway is adding an extra car to meet demand for its scenic ride between Saratoga and North Creek.

The Columbus Day weekend in the U.S. — a three-day weekend for many people — coincides with the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday, and many Canadians are also expected to be visiting the Adirondacks.

“That’s become a very important market for us,” Rielly said.

The bronze, burgundy, and amber colors of autumn will be there.

Rielly said the Champlain Valley has some beautiful colors, though the Lake Placid area may be slightly past peak. “We still have a lot of color for people who want to tour around,” she said.

Conley said the color change in North Creek — about a 90-minute drive north of Schenectady — is nearly full, though Lake George is still a few days away from peak color.

According to The “I Love New York” program’s foliage report, there will also be peak color this weekend around Indian Lake in Hamilton County, making a drive up Route 30 from Amsterdam or Gloversville appealing.

In the western Adirondacks, Old Forge in Herkimer County projects just past peak foliage, according to the state’s foliage observers.

In the Capital Region, only about 50 percent color change is predicted for this weekend.

Categories: Schenectady County

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