By Melissa Luther – Navigation Junkie
Old Forge New York: Americana In The Adirondacks
Old Forge New York is a small hamlet in the Town of Webb. Situated in the Adirondacks, Old Forge is a popular weekend or vacation getaway for New Yorkers and some folks from neighboring states, but it’s definitely off the beaten path for most outside visitors. Regardless, it’s undoubtedly worth exploring.
From outdoor adventures including hiking, camping, and paddling, to Calypso’s Cove’s family fun park, to the fun and refreshing Water Safari to some very unique shopping options along Old Forge’s Main Street, Old Forge New York has something to offer every member of your family! So rent a car in New York and go on an adventure. If you have any questions/comments, leave them below, and we’ll get back to you just as soon as we can.
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Hiking in Old Forge New York
Hiking is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of the Adirondacks in Old Forge New York. There are a few popular trails, but there are also many off-the-beaten-path trails that should be on your bucket list when visiting the area. Below are some great options to start with, but if you’re looking for others after you’ve finished these, be sure to check out this Old Forge hiking map!
The McCauley Mountain hike is one of the most popular and most heavily trafficked trails, but it is worth mentioning because it has stunning views that are easily accessible with the McCauley Mountain Chair Lift. If you are looking for more of an adventure, you can also find many other hiking trails in the area, and in the winter there are 21 skiing trails. If you’re looking for a more mellow option, consider taking the chairlift up and then hiking down the mountain.
Bald Mountain is a very user-friendly hike, perfect for families and beginner-level hikers. If you choose to hike Balk Mountain, keep in mind the terrain can be difficult in some spots. Specifically, in some areas, the trail is quite steep and requires you to scramble up some rocks. However, the short length of the hike makes it doable for even the newest hikers. Round trip, the hike is about two miles with about a 500 ft. elevation gain.
This hike will reward you with countless panoramic views of the Adirondacks. Once you reach the summit, if you have any energy left, climb up to top of the Rondaxe Fire Tower, and from there you’ll be able to gaze out over the Little Moose Mountain Wilderness, the Black River Wild Forest, the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness, and the Independence River Wild Forest – All places you’ll want to consider checking out on your next adventure in this area.
Gull Lake Trail
On the topic of the Black River Wild Forest, The Gull Lake Trail is a mostly flat, one-mile-long trail that doesn’t see many visitors. The trail lacks the elevation gain of the Old Forge mountains and therefore the great 360 views, but the Gull Lake Trail does offer some great, serene lake views and chances are you will have the area to yourself to enjoy.
The TOBIE Trail
The 16-mile-long TOBIE Trail (connecting the communities of Thendara, Old Forge, Big Moose, Inlet and Eagle Bay) is a biking and walking trail. The whole trail is paved, flat, and easily navigated. It is well-marked and will take you through the center of Old Forge. The Old Forge Covered Bridge is one of the most notable stops along the trail. Whether you do the whole thing or a section on foot or on bikes, it’s a lovely and family friendly way to explore this area.
Lock and Dam Trail
The Lock and Dam Trail can be reached through a parking area near Green Bridge. The trail is a two mile round trip trail that is mostly flat and doable for hikers of any ability. This trail is another one of the less frequented trails, making it a great off the beaten path hike! You will be rewarded with views of the old wooden dam along the Middle Branch of the Moose River.
Camping in Old Forge New York
One of the main reasons to visit Old Forge is to get close to nature. And what better way is there to do that than with a good old fashioned camping trip?
Old Forge Camping Resort
There are plenty of camping options throughout the Old Forge area. The Old Forge Camping Resort is an old classic, and it will give you easy access to Water Safari, Main Street, and many of the trail heads located throughout the area.
Nick’s Lake Campground
Nick’s Lake Campground is more on the outskirts of the main hamlet and will give you access to some of the less frequented trails, making it the better option for those looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience.
Water Sports in Old Forge New York
There are countless places around Old Forge where you can access the water. Bring your own kayak or canoe, and explore the area’s lakes and rivers on your own. Old Forge is located in Herkimer County, and there are over a dozen boat launches in Herkimer County alone. If you’re looking to paddle a longer way, this lists all the boat launches in New York state by county.
If you don’t have a kayak or canoe of your own you can find locations throughout Old Forge to rent. Tickner’s Canoes is one great option for kayak and canoe rentals. They also offer stand-up board rentals. Tickner’s offers a complimentary shuttle for both you and your boat rental to the Old Forge Pond or Moose River.
Paddle The Moose River
The Moose River is a great option for some canoeing or kayaking right near Old Forge. The river in this area is not overcrowded and will give you plenty of personal space to enjoy the twists and turns of the stunning landscape!
Paddle The Lakes Around Old Forge New York
The many rivers in and around Old Forge are not your only option for experiencing the beautiful waterscapes on offer. Paddling in one of the tranquil lakes around Old Forge is also a great option. Again, this list of boat launches in Herkimer County can help you find a way to easily access a lake with your boat. But to name a few, consider checking out, Forth Lake, Moshier Reservoir, Nick’s Lake or Weaver Lake.
Adirondack Scenic Railroad or Railbiking
Hop aboard the Adirondack Scenic Railroad at the Thendara Station just outside of Old Forge New York for a scenic train ride to another Adirondack village, such as Otter Lake and Big Moose. You can also choose to add in a stop for lunch or enjoy a box lunch on the train.
The Adirondack Scenic Railroad company also offers tours using special railbikes along unused railroad tracks. The trail is 6 miles long and you are free to explore at your own pace. The railbikes hold up to four people and are family-friendly, so even the youngest member in your family can join in the fun.
Visit Enchanted Forest Water Safari in Old Forge
Enchanted Forest Water Safari, also commonly called “Enchanted Forest,” is New York’s biggest water park. Despite this, it is amazing how few people actually know about the park. The park has over 50 rides with 32 of them being heated water rides. The park has many water slides, two lazy rivers, big tube slides the whole family can enjoy together, multiple kid-friendly areas, and a wave pool.
The park also has a small storybook village area that brings your child’s (or your own!) favorite characters to life. A family circus show is also offered twice throughout the day and tends to change yearly. Throughout the park, you will find many fast food options, and the candy shop is not to be missed!
Swim at the Old Forge Public Beach
The Old Forge Beach is located across the street from Water Safari, and it’s a great (and free) alternative for cooling off. There is plenty of sand for castle building, and there is also a ship themed play area.
Family Fun Activities in Old Forge New York
Mini-Golfing at Nutty Putty
Nutty Putty is a mini-golf course located along Route 28 in Old Forge New York. It is a small course, but each hole offers fun decor that will keep the kids having a blast! It is a great way to end a long day after hiking or exploring Water Safari.
Calypso’s Cove Family Fun Park – An Old Forge Classic
Calypso’s Cove is the perfect destination for family fun. It’s fitting for both thrill seekers and those seeking some more laid-back fun. Calypso’s Cove offers an arcade, go-karts, and a mini-golf course. For thrill-seekers, check out the zip line and rock climbing course. Combine your visit with some pizza and wings to complete your night!
Films at The Strand Theater
The historic Strand Theater has maintained its 1920’s-era theme, giving visitors a unique viewing experience. The theater originally opened in 1923 under the name of “Thomson Theatre.” Inside you’ll find decor from the theater’s past. Today they show current releases at bargain prices. At the time of writing, tickets for adults are $7 and $6 for kids. Interesting fact: Locals believe the theatre is haunted by the original owner, and many claim they have seen him in the form of a puff of smoke.
Where to Eat in Old Forge New York
The Pied Piper
The Pied Piper is an icon of Old Forge. Located directly across the street from Water Safari, locals have enjoyed The Pied Piper for years. It is a basic quick food and ice cream shop, but its location is what makes it stand out. Being located so close to the water park, it is often an end of the day stop before heading home. It is also located next to the Old Forge lake with a small dock and benches for enjoying lunch with a view.
Walt’s Diner is an Adirondack tradition! This classic American diner offers traditional breakfast options, sandwiches, deep-fried mushrooms, deep-fried cauliflower, chilis, a taco bowl salad, and more! Walt’s Diner is a great way to get a local dining experience.
Ozzie’s Coffee Bar
If you’re looking for that small-town feel that Old Forge is great for, head over to Ozzie’s Coffee Bar. It’s a cute, locally owned coffee shop that offers not only a variety of coffee options with many different flavors and a great selection of frozen drinks, but they also offer an extensive selection of sandwiches, soups, salads, and paninis.
Shopping in Old Forge New York
Main Street Old Forge
If you take a stroll down Main Street in Old Forge, you’ll find a number of quaint shops selling unique and local handicrafts. Lining the streets are hand-carved bear statues, Adirondack chairs (of course!), and small shops with unique outdoor yard decorations.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, make sure to stop by The Candy Cottage. Whether it be chocolate, freshly popped popcorn, or old-fashioned candies such as candy buttons and candy cigarettes, they have just about every sweet thing you could want.
The Dragonfly Cottage is a great source of antiques. They are set up in a home with each room featuring a different theme, such as an outdoor fairy theme and a local Adirondack theme.
If you are looking for some Adirondack-themed souvenirs be sure to check out Souvenir Village. Here you will find locally made jams and sauces, Adirondack-themed signs and decor, and a selection of cups/coffee mugs.
Old Forge And Beyond
A trip to Old Forge New York will surely not disappoint! From hiking to biking to water parks and more, there is something for everyone in this classic bit of Americana. If you’re looking for another American classic, consider heading out west to do some backpacking in Yellowstone. No matter what you do, if you have any questions/comments feel free to leave them below. And until then, happy travels!
Melissa is a family travel blogger who shares experiences, tips, and tricks to make planning and traveling less stressful, more fun, and more memorable for families on her site Navigation Junkie! Together with her five-year-old daughter, she is working on visiting as many continents and countries around the globe and sharing those experiences with anyone who wants to listen!