Historically, the hamlet of North Creek has struggled in the shadow of northwestern Warren County’s biggest attraction, the Gore Mountain ski area.
Which is too bad. The little community hugging a scenic stretch of the Hudson River has plenty to offer, from outdoor activities to places to take a browse or buy a cookie.
“There’s hiking, there’s Revolution Rail, there’s rafting, there’s tubing, there’s kayaking,” enthused Kathy Waite, the owner of Izzy’s Market & Deli, one of a half-dozen places to eat that are mainstays on Main Street.
North Creek is on the north side of state Route 28, the opposite side from Gore, the giant Olympic Regional Development Authority ski area. Local ski history goes back to the 1930s, and the community is dotted with historic ski gondolas as public identity art, the way other tourist-friendly towns use painted fiberglass race horses, mountain lions or moose to evoke local character.
The community was dealt a blow this spring, when the seven-year run of the Saratoga & North Creek Railway ended, amid acrimony between Warren County and Iowa Pacific Holdings, parent company of the tourist train, which said it was losing too much money to survive.
Town officials nevertheless say North Creek has lots to offer visitors.
“We do miss the train, but the train is only part of who we are,” said Andrea Hogan, supervisor of the town of Johnsburg, which includes North Creek. “We are really just very confident that our little town recommends itself even without the train.”
Regardless of the departure of the tourism train after seven years of operation, the railroad tracks are central to North Creek’s identity, both in the past and today. It’s where eccentric financier and railroad promoter Thomas C. Durant ran out of money in the 1880s, as he sought to build the Adirondack Railroad, which would have stretched across the Adirondacks from Saratoga Springs to Malone.
Famously, in 1901 the hamlet’s rail station is where Vice President Theodore Roosevelt learned that President William McKinley had died from an assassin’s bullet. He had been brought to the North Creek station, after an all-night wagon trip from where he was hunting and camping near Mt. Marcy.
“It’s a beautiful part of history, about Teddy Roosevelt,” said Pat Filkins, a volunteer at the North Creek Railroad Depot Museum, which occupies the former rail station, located just off Main Street.
The museum is open Fridays through Tuesdays during the summer months, and school and camp groups are welcome. It is free.
Inside the museum are rooms devoted to the skiing history of the North Creek area, the Roosevelt story, a room-filling diorama showing what North Creek looked like in the late 1800s building-by-building, and the original 1880s stationmaster’s desk.
“It’s not just Teddy Roosevelt, it tells you a lot of history of the railroad, and a lot about local families,” Filkins said.
There’s a lot of excitement, too, about a new use of the railroad tracks, one that isn’t found anywhere else in the Adirondacks.
Revolution Rail Co. offers two-hour excursions on rail-riding carts that are peddle-powered — sort of like a recumbent bicycle, with outsize yellow wheels that hug the rails. It operates from the old rail station, from which customers are bused about five miles west to North River. There, they get on the two- or four-person peddle carts, and make a roughly seven-mile round trip that includes crossing a 200-feet railroad trestle over the Hudson River as it emerges from the Hudson Gorge.
“It’s not particularly strenuous, and it’s a very cool ride,” Hogan said.
The attraction has run on weekends this spring. It will go to seven-day operation for the season on June 20. Most weekends are already booked; ticket information is available online at www.revrail.com.
“Everybody’s been really gracious with us,” said Mike Dupee, one of two University of Vermont academics who started Revolution Rail in 2017. “The town has been great to deal with. People stay for lunch or dinner.”
There’s hiking, of course, but in climbing Gore and easier trips. “We have every level of hiking here, beautiful trails that run right along by the river…You can head out on the Schaefer trail and get into some of the most remote wilderness around,” Hogan said.
The North Creek Ski Bowl is just a short distance from downtown, and offers mountain-bike trails and hiking. It’s managed by state-owned Gore Mountain, which expects to be adding a zip line within the next year.
At Gore, there’s plenty of summertime activity for day visitors. (Photo provided by Wilderness Property Management Inc.: In the summertime, North Creek Ski Bowl is home to cross-country mountain bike trails.)
The mountain will open for the summer on July 7, operating 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, said spokeswoman Emily Stanton. “New attractions this year include a climbing challenge attraction, UTV Alpine Expeditions, and expanded hiking opportunities,” she said. “We will continue our scenic gondola rides, downhill mountain biking, disc and mini-golf, climbing wall, inflatables, and bungee trampoline.”
Before, after or instead of outdoor exercise, the Main Street in lined with small shops. A few miles up the road in the Barton Mines Tours, on Barton Mines Road in North River. And Barkeater Chocolates offers a gourmet experience on Route 28 just south of the hamlet. The chocolate is made on-premises at the store, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, and the public is welcome.
“We’ve had everything from tour buses to private tours where people can get their hands dirty and make chocolate and then take it home,” said Barkeaters’ co-owner Deb Morris.
(Photo: A child takes a class at Barkeater Chocolates.)
But one cannot live on garnets and chocolate alone.
There are several places for breakfast and lunch in North Creek, including Cafe Sarah, Izzy’s and Marsha’s Restaurant. At dinnertime, Basil & Wicks on Route 28, BarVino on Main Street, Beck’s on the way to Gore Mountain and the Inn on Gore are among the additional options.
For those looking for gasoline and a familiar line of foods and ice cream, a new and larger Stewart’s Shop that opened over the winter on Route 28 just west of the previous location.
North Creek is found off state Route 28, about 20 miles northwest of Warrensburg, less than 90 minutes from Schenectady.
The hamlet will have an Independence Day celebration with fireworks on Saturday, July 7.