Morgan Ryan
Whiteface Mountain from the high point of the Mount Pisgah loop
Morgan Ryan
St. Regis Mountain from Bloomingdale
Morgan Ryan
Ampersand Mountain from Route 30
Morgan Ryan
Foot bridge over Fish Creek Pond
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Had enough of hiking on muddy, icy trails? Water still a little cold and choppy for your tastes? Tired of swatting flies in the woods? Well, the solution is simple: Get on your bike.

The following are five road rides that can be done in a relatively short amount of time (less than three hours at a moderate pace). Or, better yet, give yourself the better part of the day and take time to enjoy the sights.

All five rides leave from the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake and they all offer nice views of the many mountains and lakes in the area. The longest ride is 36 miles and shortest is a mere 7.4 miles.

The routes try to stick to secondary roads as much as possible, but of course there are long stretches on busy state routes like Route 3 and Route 86. It’s unavoidable really.

Just take your time, be safe and enjoy.

Split Rock Loop

DISTANCE: 17.4 miles

ROUTE: Follow Route 3 East to Bloomingdale. Go straight through the stop sign in Bloomingdale (Route 3 goes right) and bear left onto the Bloomingdale-Gabriels Road. Take that to Split Rock Road in Gabriels and go left. The Split Rock itself is on the left and soon you’re on Route 86 heading back to Saranac Lake.

HIGH POINT: About 1,860 feet, a mile after turning on 86

HILL FACTOR: Relatively flat until just before Gabriels. From there it’s a steady uphill until reaching the high point. That’s when it’s time to tighten your helmet for a rollercoaster ride back into Saranac Lake.

VIEWS: Loop follows the winding Saranac River along Route 3. Nice view of the backside of Baker Mountain and McKenzie Mountain. St. Regis Mountain can be seen briefly in the distance from Bloomingdale. After cresting the high point, the mountain views are endless — Whiteface and McKenzie across a wide valley and many of the high peaks to the south and southeast.

ROAD CONDITION: State routes 3 and 86 are busy, with fast-moving cars, but the shoulders are wide and smooth.

PERKS: Probably the flattest of the five and there are mountain views aplenty.

OBSTACLES: Not much shade along the way, which could make things uncomfortable on real hot days. Wind could be a factor also.

COMMENTS: The road from Bloomingdale to Gabriels is very flat and relaxing. I saw a turkey vulture feasting on road kill there, disturbed only by the occasional car traveling through. He escorted me out of there once I passed by. Made me think of the many benefits of wearing a bike helmet.

Lake Clear Loop

DISTANCE: 20.8 miles

ROUTE: Take Route 3 West, turn right on Edgewood Road (just after high school). Edgewood turns into Ampersand, then take a left on Forest Home Road. Ride up Forest Home for about 8.5 miles to Route 30 and turn right. Bear right onto Route 186 and after four miles, you’ll be on 86 heading back to Saranac Lake.

HIGH POINT: About 1,840 feet on Forest Home Road

HILL FACTOR: Hilly would be an understatement. The climb between miles 4 and 5 is challenging. Pretty steep coming back down 86 too.

VIEWS: Little Colby Pond is visible early in the ride on Forest Home Road, and at the top of the hill you get a good look at Mill Pond. Nice view of St. Regis Mountain hovering over Lake Clear out on Route 30. And, to top it all off, you’re treated to the spectacular sweeping views of the High Peaks after turning onto Route 86.

ROAD CONDITION: Very low traffic on Forest Home Road and Route 30. Route 86 is busy but the shoulder is fine.

PERKS: If you don’t mind pedaling up long hills, this is the ride for you. If you do mind, you might want to look elsewhere.

OBSTACLES: See above.

COMMENTS: This is probably my favorite of the group. Oddly enough I seem to enjoy going uphill. Forest Home Road is very quiet and peaceful, so there’s very little outside interference as you climb and climb and climb. It’s just you and your bike out there, chugging up the tree-lined road. Once you reach the top, it’s not far to Lake Clear and the picturesque view of St. Regis Mountain. The downhill on the homestretch of the loop is pretty fun too.

Mount Pisgah Loop

DISTANCE: 7.4 miles

ROUTE: Route 3 West to Edgewood Road (just after the high school). Right on Ampersand Ave. Left on Broadway (Route 86), then bear right on Old Lake Colby Road (Upper Broadway) to the T with Trudeau Road. Once you reach the top, Mount Pisgah Road to the ski center is on the right. Continue on Trudeau down to Route 3 and turn right to get back into town.

HIGH POINT: About 1,700 feet at the intersection with Mount Pisgah Road

HILL FACTOR: One big hill — you go up, then down.

VIEWS: You get a real good look at Whiteface and McKenzie from the top, just when you reach Mount Pisgah Road. More High Peaks are visible to the south. Wide-open view.

ROAD CONDITION: Not much for shoulders, but it doesn’t matter much since there’s very low traffic on most of these roads.

PERKS: Quick, easy and scenic.

OBSTACLES: Steep downhill just before reaching busy Route 3.

COMMENTS: This is the shortest of the five, which has its merits in itself. It’s the Baker Mountain of bike rides. You can easily do this one on a long lunch break. Offers a quick refresher on just how many mountains surround the area. Seems to be a popular route for bikers.

Fish Creek Ponds Loop

DISTANCE: 36 miles

ROUTE: Take Route 3 west for about 15 miles then turn right on Route 30. Stay on 30 for about 11 miles and turn right onto Forest Home Road which will take you right back into Saranac Lake.

HIGH POINT: About 1,840 feet on Forest Home Road

HILL FACTOR: Very hilly on Route 3, generally gaining elevation until you reach Route 30.

VIEWS: Lake after lake and pond after pond. Some mountain views thrown in for good measure. Very scenic.

ROAD CONDITION: Smooth, wide shoulder on Route 3 and low traffic the rest of the way.

PERKS: Gentle, scenic ride for the 11 or so miles on Route 30.

OBSTACLES: Cars whizzing by at a million miles per hour on Route 3, combined with some monster hills, not always ideal.

COMMENTS: The long slog on Route 3 is worth it once you get up to 30. From there it’s all lakes, ponds, camps and campgrounds. Even Route 3 isn’t all that bad — definitely better on a bike than in the car. There’s a general store just before you cross the bridge at the Fish Creek campground if you need to resupply on anything. The ride finishes with a fun and curvy downhill on Forest Home Road that brings you right back to Saranac Lake.

Mirror Lake Loop

DISTANCE: 20.5 miles

ROUTE: Head west on Route 86 (River St.) and go straight through the triangle until you reach Pine Street. Turn right on Pine, which becomes McKenzie Pond Road. Turn left on Route 86 after about three miles and you’re on your way to Lake Placid. Stay on this road for about 5.5 miles until you get to the intersection with Mirror Lake Drive where you want to go left. This will take you around the lake and back out on the other end of town in front of the Olympic oval. Go left and then right onto Route 73, then take another right on Averyville Road which leads you to Old Military Road. Go right on Old Military Road and back to Route 86.

HIGH POINT: About 1,950 feet after the junction with Old Military Road just before the village of Lake Placid.


VIEWS: Great view of Whiteface heading into the village of Lake Placid.

ROAD CONDITION: Broken up on much of 86. High traffic.

PERKS: All the amenities of Lake Placid in the middle of the ride. What better place to take a nice long lunch break.

OBSTACLES: Route 86 is a busy road with an at-times rough shoulder.

COMMENTS: Lots of uphill between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. You’ll climb about 300 feet between miles 4 and 7, which may not sound like a lot, but you’ll definitely start to feel it on that last climb before reaching the outskirts of the village of Lake Placid. Once you’re in town though, it’s pretty smooth sailing. There are a ton of places in Lake Placid to take a break and you have that big downhill to look forward to heading back into Saranac Lake. It’s a bumpy ride, but a fast ride.