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THE LOJ IN THE WOODS: The ADK’s center at Heart Lake; the ‘finest square mile’

January 15, 2009
HEATHER SACKETT, News Staff Writer
HEART LAKE — The busiest trailhead in New York state, as well as the closest access point to the tallest mountains in the state, is in Lake Placid’s back yard — at the Adirondack Loj.

The 640-acre Heart Lake property, which includes nearby Mt. Jo, has been called the “finest square mile” by writers and others. The property, including the Loj itself, the information center, as well as several smaller cabins and campsites, are owned and managed by the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK).



Some history and info

In 1890, Henry Van Hoevenberg opened the first Adirondack Lodge. After a few decades and a fire that burned the lodge to the ground, the Lake Placid Club bought the property. The club built the new Loj (it seems Melvil Dewey’s use of “simpler speling” stuck in this case) in 1928 and the ADK took it over in 1957.

“The Loj is a rustic bed and breakfast,” said Deputy Executive Director John Million. “But it’s more than a bed and breakfast, it’s a total wilderness experience.”

The Loj can accommodate 38 guests in a combination of private rooms and bunk rooms. Breakfast and dinner are served family-style. There are also two other cabins and 51 campsites — 16 lean-tos and 35 tent sites — on the property. A cozy great room furnished with Adirondack symbols and wall decorations, like a moose head, canoe paddles and brown and yellow trail signs, welcomes guests.

According to Million, 50,000 to 75,000 people per year pass through the Loj, either as guests or on their way into the High Peaks Wilderness. And the area is popular even in winter. Last Sunday, with about six inches of new snow, the trail from the Loj into Marcy Dam was finally skiable and locals took full advantage. With winter’s return, the area saw plenty of skiers and snowshoers, and the Loj was filled to capacity last weekend.

Don’t be fooled just because the Loj is not far from town and is constantly bustling with activity. An electric fence that surrounds the dumpsters, keeping out bears and other critters, is a reminder that the Adirondack Loj, is indeed, in the middle of the wilderness.



Events at the Loj

The Adirondack Mountain Club also presents many educational clinics, talks and guided interpretive hikes at the Loj throughout the year. A tradition from the days of Henry Van Hoevenberg still continues today with weekly stories around the campfire. Naturalists teach map and compass skills, snowshoes clinics, animal tracking lessons and other outdoor skills workshops, many geared toward children.

Many of the educational events are free and open to the public — and usually can be found listed in the daily calendar of the Lake Placid News.

“We want people to connect to the environment right in their own back yards,” Million said. “We are trying to meld that educational message into every visitor’s experience here. The greatest classroom we have is the Heart Lake property.”

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The mission of the Adirondack Mountain Club is to promote protection of natural resources as well as encourage responsible outdoor recreation in the Adirondack wilderness. The Adirondack Loj and surrounding property do that in a variety of ways. From the most hard-core peak bagger to someone simply looking for a relaxing summer afternoon on the shores of Heart Lake, Million says the Loj is the starting point for people’s first Adirondack experience. For many visitors to the area, Mt. Jo is their first hike. A walk around Heart Lake listening to the songbirds might be the first time they connect with wildlife.

“For more and more of American society, that wilderness experience is further and further away for them,” Million said. “We find entry points where people can connect with the environment. As long as we can make that connection, we are fulfilling the mission.”

So with all the lodging options in and around Lake Placid, why would someone choose to stay at the rustic and comparatively remote Loj?

“I always say the thickness of our mattresses might not be the same as a luxury hotel in town, but we have fox tracks right outside our door and someone to tell you they are fox tracks,” Million said. “The close interaction we have with the natural environment is what makes our experience different. To connect the outdoors, all you have to do is walk right outside your front door.”

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For more information on ADK programs or becoming a member, call (518) 523-3441

or to check on

upcoming events,

visit www.adk.org.

Article Photos

A visitor near the welcome sign for the Adirondack Loj.
Photo/Heather Sackett

Fact Box

Some upcoming
free lectures
at the Loj

¯Jan. 17: At 8 p.m., Edward Hixson will give a presentation, “Three Expeditions to Everest.”
¯Jan. 24: At 8 p.m., Mike Brennan, Adirondack Park Agency naturalist and director of the Paul Smith’s VIC, Mike Brennan, will present “The Great Conservation Experiment,” a historical look at settlement, development and environmental protection in the Adirondack Park.
¯Jan. 31: At 8 p.m., Frank Lescinsky will share his experiences from a trip to Belize and Guatemala in the spring of 2007. There he visited forests, waterfalls, caves, and rivers and met local people.

 
 

 

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