Keeseville-Saranac Lake Bicycling along the Olympic Byway
The 45 miles of the Keeseville-Saranac Lake segment of the Olympic Byway follows the scenic Ausable River for much of the way. The Ausable reaches the shore of Lake Champlain near Keeseville and between its mouth and Keeseville is the 150-foot Ausable Chasm, easily viewed from the Route 9 bridge over the river. It is well worth a bike tour around picturesque Keeseville to enjoy its historic bridges, buildings and scenery. There are 145 structures in the Keeseville historic district and several interesting bridges that span the Ausable there. In all there are 17 Ausable River bridges on the National Register of Historic Places.
Keeseville to Ausable Forks provides a pastoral setting through farmland and forest as the road hugs the river most of the way. Ausable Forks to Jay continues the Ausable River ride. At Jay the Olympic Byway turns west and starts its climb up to Wilmington and the base of Whiteface Mountain.
The Wilmington-Whiteface-Lake Placid area is a center of bicycling activity, from an annual road bike race up Whiteface Mountain, to local and national bike events at the Whiteface Ski Area, a relaxing family ride on newly developed trails or on quiet country roads, and even a Dirt Jump & Skills Park in Wilmington. Those and other events mean that biking is a popular activity along the Olympic Byway.
The portion of the route from Wilmington to Lake Placid is among the most scenic bike rides in the Adirondack region, but is only for the most experienced riders. The combination of river, gorge and rock in some spots permits only a narrow shoulder, and at times no shoulder at all. At the other end of the gorge is the Olympic Village of Lake Placid and its many Olympic venues that continue to host national and world competitions. Eight miles further is Saranac Lake, an historic village that has been ranked among the “best small towns” in America.
Road Bike Opportunities
There are a number of on-road rides and loops along this segment of the Olympic Byway. Always dress for the weather and carry water, snacks, map, repair kit and cell phone, as well as review your route with someone knowledgeable of the area. This is a predominately rural area, so consider that services may be unavailable along your ride.
Family Ride – The Jay area offers some fairly level, quiet-road rides on the east side of town near the Jay Covered Bridge. A 4-mile loop starts near Douglas Memorial Park at the corner of 9N & Route 86, or near the Jay Covered Bridge. Using North Jay Road, Hazen Road, Haseltine Road and County Route 22, make the loop out and back to the covered bridge. The historic and scenic bridge, recently rebuilt, is near a popular swimming area on the Ausable River.
Moderate Rides – The Essex-Whallonsburg Loop, a 35-mile loop through farmlands and rural hamlets in the Champlain Valley starting just south of Keeseville, one of the many quiet, blacktop loops that can be found throughout the Champlain Valley offering scenic views of lakes, rivers and both the Adirondack and Green mountains.
- Or try the Keeseville-Plattsburgh Loop, a 30-mile loop between Keeseville and Plattsburgh, with almost half the ride near the shore of Lake Champlain. The Plattsburgh segment has a bike path for a portion of the ride.
- Check out the Keeseville-Ausable Forks Loop, a 30-mile loop between Keeseville and Ausable Forks, all along backroads, with almost half the ride along the Ausable River.
Training Rides – The Lake Placid Ironman Ride is a training ride for the Lake Placid Ironman, although the course can change from year to year, so this example is just one configuration. The bike ride leg of the triathalon is 112 miles, so it’s twice around the course.
- The Pat Stratton Memorial Century Ride, a pleasant ride through Adirondack Park forest and farmland north of Saranac Lake that has great mountain views but no heavy climbing. Wide shoulders on the state routes, otherwise quiet backroads, and along the route are Paul Smiths, Mecham Lake, Lake Clear, Gabriels and St. Regis Falls.
For the Lake Champlain area, check out these other road bike guides and resources:
- 25 Bicycle Tours in the Lake Champlain Region
- Road Rides near Lake Champlain
- Lakes to Locks Passage Bike Links
- Lake Champlain Bikeways
- Adirondack Coast Bikeways
- Northern Adirondack Coast Bikeways
Mountain Bike Opportunities
In the Lake Placid-Wilmington area check out:
- Flume and Hardy Road Trail Systems – 15 miles of newly developed mountain biking trails, easily accessed from the Olympic Byway near Wilmington.
- Wilmington Dirt Jump Skill Park – The Dirt Jump/Skills Park is open to the public during daylight hours free of charge (helmets are mandatory). The dirt jumps, pump track and skills park were designed and built by Kyle Ebbett.
In the Saranac Lake-Lake Placid area check out these mountain bike resources:
- Adirondack Park Mountain Initiative
- Franklin County – Northern
- Franklin County – Southern
- Mountain Bike Trails in the Adirondack Lakes Region
- Osgood – Jack Rabbit Ride
Family Fun Mountain Bike Rides – The Bloomingdale Bog Trail follows a former railroad bed, a route that provides a flat ride of up to 10 miles along bogs and wetlands. Great opportunity to see birds or other wildlife, or even a former President – President Bush was spotted biking the Bog trail in 2010. see also BikeKinetix and Placid Planet for more information on this ride
- The Brewster Peninsula Trails are located behind Howard Johnson’s right on the Olympic Byway in Lake Placid. There is a total of about 4 miles of trails with little elevation change and spectacular views. The Ridge Trail is beginner-intermediate and a ton of fun, while the Lake Shore Trail is more challenging but well worthwhile for the stunning mountain and lake views.
Not to Miss
- Ausable Chasm – Exposed Potsdam sandstone dating back 500 million years, views of the chasm available from the Rt 9 bridge near Keeseville.
- Jay Covered Bridge –The original bridge was built in 1851 and in 1997 it was moved a short distance from the main road and refurbished. Now a popular historic site offering scenic views of the Ausable River.
- Whiteface Memorial Highway –An eight-mile climb from the crossroads in Wilmington, the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway ascends to the summit of the fifth highest mountain in the Adirondacks.
- The Flume Waterfall – Waterfalls at The Flume, near the Route 86 bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable River, 2 miles west of Wilmington.
- Whiteface Mountain Gondola Ride – Ride the Cloudsplitter Gondola to the summit of Little Whiteface and soak in the panaroma of the Olympic Region.
- John Brown Farm –John Brown’s rustic farm is located just east of the village of Lake Placid, offering guided tours, memorial events, and picnic areas and hikes with scenic views.
- Winter Olympic Museum –The 1932 & 1980 Winter Olympic Museum tells the story of how this little mountain village twice became the center of the winter sports world.
- Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage –One of the finest Stevenson collections in the world, housed in the Baker Cottage in Saranac Lake where Stevenson spent the winter of 1887-88, just before he sailed to the south seas.
- Trudeau Saranac Laboratory – Dr. Trudeau came to the Adirondacks in 1873 seriously ill with tuberculosis and here his health improved in the mountain climate. Historic Saranac Lake has restored his laboratory to document Saranac Lake’s unique role in the research and treatment of tuberculosis.
also see Adirondack Scenic Byways.org for many more points of interest along this route
Bike Events in the Area
- Whiteface Mountain Uphill Bike Race, Wilmington,June-3rd Saturday
- Wilmington/Whiteface Bike Fest, Wilmington, June-3rd weekend
- Wilmington/Whiteface 100k, Wilmington, June-3rd weekend
- Saranac Lake Tandem Rally, Saranac Lake, June-3rd weekend
- Tupper Lake Tinman Triathlon, Tupper Lake, June-4th Saturday
- Ford Ironman Lake Placid,Lake Placid, July-4th Sunday
- Pat Stratton Memorial Bicycle Ride, Saranac Lake, August-last Saturday
also see the complete list of bike events for the region
Bike Shops Nearby
- High Peaks Cyclery, Lake Placid
- Maui North, Lake Placid
- Placid Planet Bicycles, Lake Placid
- Gear-To-Go Tandems, Saranac Lake
- Maui North, Plattsburgh
- The Wooden Ski & Wheel, Plattsburgh
- Viking Ski Shop, Plattsburgh
also see the complete list of bike shops for the region
- Adirondack Regional Tourism Council
- Clinton County
- Essex County-Lake Placid
- Franklin County
- Saranac Lake
also see the complete list of visitor information resources for the region
Check in with Chamber offices, bike shops and other sports shops in the area to get the latest information and review your route with someone knowledgeable of the area. When biking, dress for the weather and carry water, snacks, map, repair kit and cell phone. When biking in rural areas, services could be few and far between, and cell phone service may not always be available. See the Before You Ride notices in the bottom section of this website, as well as the Disclaimer notice.
Below are some of the sights along the way – scroll over an image to see its title, or click an image to enlarge it and then move through the entire gallery (click on one of the large images to return here).