Most people claim I’m crazy—but in my skewed estimation—the best time of the year to be in Old Forge is in April. Specifically--the three or week season when the ice breaks free on the Moose River and spring rains create favorable flows for whitewater rafting and kayaking.
The Moose was the first New York whitewater river I boated after moving to the state back in 1983 and it remains a sentimental favorite—my home river. Its difficulty varies from an easy class 4 at low water levels up to a solid class 5 at higher flows. It is the most challenging whitewater commercially rafted in the state.
But it isn’t simply the lure of the river that makes April my favorite season to visit Old Forge.
Some people associate the Adirondacks with the verdant green of summer or autumn’s riot of red and gold—but to my taste, the Adirondacks are most stunning in the early spring when the rugged bones of the landscape are revealed. The stark beauty of the mountains is on display.
Sure, the temperatures can be brisk in April. Often you can wake up to an April morning with the sky spitting snow. But just as often you can end the afternoon in brilliant sunshine and you’ve exchanged the sweater and boots for shorts and sandals.
But mainly, I like to hang out in Old Forge on April evenings after a day on the river. Old Forge was built to accommodate the crush of summer tourists but in April, the funky restaurants and bistros scattered throughout the village are populated only with other guides, whitewater enthusiasts and curious locals. It’s a comfortable and convenient time for a night out.
Don’t get me wrong—any place in the Adirondacks is pretty special. And at any time of the year.
Just not quite as good as Old Forge in April.