Pat Travers

Editor’s Note: Shevonne and Pat Travers, Waitsfield, are avid bike-travelers who frequently share their adventures with The Valley Reporter. Here is a report from their most recent adventure on the Adirondack Rail Trail.




Once we heard the Adirondack Rail Trail was partially open, Pat and I were determined to give it a go. Dare I say it took longer to drive to Lake Placid from The Valley than it did to cycle the trail in both directions? It did, but the trail was well worth it.

For now, the trail is open from Lake Placid through the village of Saranac Lake (close to10 miles) but when fully complete in 2025, it will go from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake (a total of 34 miles) and promises to be a spectacular ride.

Shevonne Travers

We parked at the former Lake Placid train station, now home to the North Elba Historical Society, and unloaded our bicycles. During opening hours, there’s plenty of history to uncover inside, but we were anxious to hustle down the road. The trail is 10 feet wide, with a surface of fine gravel and plenty of signage identifying upcoming road crossings, culverts, and bridges.

Along the trail’s edge we spotted Indian paintbrush and tiny buttercups and then Pat braked hard for a large turtle crossing the path. We cycled past wetlands, through pine forests, a golf course, a hydro-electric plant and the boundary of a federal prison. Lots of folks were enjoying the trail whether on foot or on bicycle.

After crossing Route 86, the trail became paved (the town of Saranac Lake advocated for making it accessible for people of all abilities). It was smooth sailing for the last few miles and before we knew it, we had arrived at the end of the completed section of trail.




Our curiosity bested us, and because our gravel bikes could handle it, we cycled further along part of the trail still under construction, and across the Colby Lake causeway before turning back. In the village once more, I spied what I thought was a structure holding an indoor carousel and right I was. The carousel features 24 animals indigenous to the Adirondack Park and it was open.  

Causeway Rail Trail

The cheerful volunteer took our cash, handed us small wooden tokens and invited us to board. We had a choice of either riding on any native animal, bird or reptile or in the wooden boat. Pat chose the deer and I climbed up next to him onto the otter. The merry-go-round bell rang once, and we began to circle round while the carousel music played.

From there, we continued cycling back to Lake Placid with a short detour to the writer Robert Louis Stevenson’s former home on a side road. Before long we were cycling up the final 3-mile climb to the Lake Placid train station. After stashing our bicycles, we walked one block to Lisa G’s restaurant, and sat outside while dining on scrumptious sandwiches while listening to the babbling Chubb River next to us.  

It was our kind of perfect day, punctuated finally by a quick visit to the site of John Brown’s remains in North Elba. We had no idea his remains were in the Adirondacks; on the property of a former colony for freed slaves from the North, where he and his family resided for 10 years.

Three summers ago, when we cycled across the country, we spent an afternoon standing on the grounds of the former arsenal in Harpers Ferry that John Brown and his companions attempted to raid in an effort to gain weapons to free slaves. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful and paid for it with his life.

There’s plenty of summer left for a journey to the Adirondacks and a ride on the new rail trail. We encourage you to check it out.