Keene Valley and Plattsburgh to Cranberry Lake

The High Peaks, New York's mightiest mountain range, lord over the northern part of the park, which seems to operate at full speed 365 days a year. Summer brings hikers, bikers, and paddlers, while winter beckons skiers and snowboarders to the state's best mountains. The village of Lake Placid, home to two winter Olympics and the birthplace of winter sports in America, is ground zero for all the action. (Call it one of the ironies of geography that this town sits on Mirror Lake -- the actual Lake Placid is a few miles outside of town.) Here you'll find lots of year-round recreation, along with myriad options for lodging and dining, and a hopping nightlife. West of Lake Placid, Route 73 becomes Route 86, which will take you right into the idyllic village of Saranac Lake. Even though the town may not have the quality of restaurants that Placid does, you'll see why Saranac Lake is considered the no. 1 small town in New York State by many experts. It has a beautiful setting, and not nearly as many tourists as its larger neighbor to the east. Cut north up Route 30 and you'll be in one of the most remote and prettiest canoeing areas in America: the St. Regis Canoe Wilderness Area. Back on 86, the road takes you past two more huge lakes with countless opportunities for fishing, hiking, camping, and canoeing. Head east from Lake Placid and you'll run right into Lake Champlain; though not heavily developed for recreation or tourism, it's a gorgeous sight.