Amid the highest peaks, a glittering prize

From the March 26, 2001 Issue of New York

Even if you have driven up Route 87, one of the most beautiful mountain highways in North America, nothing prepares you for your first view of Elk Lake. The road to the lodge, a five-mile ascent through dense woods, brings you to the main building, just a few feet from the lakeshore. Your eyes go first to the canoes and dock, especially if you've been hankering for a swim after all those hours on the road. But look up: The shimmering lake -- one of the few in the Adirondack preserve created by man, in what was formerly a logging camp -- is ringed by the nine highest of the High Peaks, from Mt. Marcy on the right to Nipple Top straight in front of you. These are not the gently rolling hills of Vermont; jutting skyward, they're jagged and ancient. The lodge comprises six rooms in the main house and eight secluded, rustic cottages with lake views. There are 40 miles of trails on 12,000 private acres. Rates include all meals in a communal dining room. The food is generic; the setting is anything but.

Elk Lake Lodge, 518-532-7616 or 518-942-0028 (open from early May to late October; cottages are $144 per person).