There are plenty of outdoor escapes for a day trip or an easy overnight within striking distance of New York City— the Catskills, the Poconos, and the Delaware Water Gap leap to mind — and that somehow always makes the Adirondacks feel really far away. As one of the largest nature preserves in the country, it can also seem impenetrable. We’re here to tell you it’s worth the trip, especially if the family could use time away from all things electric.

photo via: VisitAdirondacks.com

A Family-Focused Escape
The first surprise about the Adirondacks is that it’s not so far away after all. In fact, you can reach one of 12 regions that make up Adirondack Park known as “Adirondacks, Experience It!,” in about four hours.

That’s where we headed, and we stayed the heart of the region at the “rustic but not rough” family resort Timberlock on Indian Lake. Founded in 1899, it is one of the oldest cabin resorts in the Adirondacks and it takes its modern-day email address — unplug@timberlock.com — very seriously. Leave your sleeping bags, coolers, cooking gear, tents, and adult and child water toys at home. About two dozen single-room or one- to three-bedroom cabins have comfy mattresses and plenty of thick blankets for the cooler mountain nights.

timberlock-lodge

photo: via Timberlock Facebook page

Getting Off the Grid
Feeling like everybody could use a few days away from their devices, handheld and beyond? This could be your spot! You won’t find any electricity or Wi-Fi in the cabins or guest areas. At night, propane lamps give cabins a warm, relaxing glow to read by. But better yet, sit outside at your own campfire, or at the big outdoor fireplace on the patio of the main lodge and listen to the sound of the loons on the lake. Once a week, Timberlock’s hosts, Holly and Bruce Caitlin, hold singalongs guided by Bruce’s guitar, whatever instruments the college-age crew can play, and their self-published Timber Tunes book. (The evening is a huge hit with kids and adults.)

timberlock-patio

photo: via Timberlock Facebook page

Hey, Good Cookin’
You’re in the woods at Timberlock, but that doesn’t mean you won’t eat well. Chef Mary outdoes herself day after day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Grilled salmon, barbecued chicken, homemade lasagna and fresh sides and salads are served up on Timberlock’s large, covered porch that overlooks the lake. Meals are the only scheduled activity at Timberlock and a big bell is rung to signal dining times at 8:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m and 6 p.m. (If you want to take a picnic lunch on the go, that’s an option, too.)

timberlock-water-trampoline

photo: via Timberlock Facebook page

So Much Time, So Much to Do
Timberlock offers up full fleet of water vehicles for the taking: canoes, kayaks, sailboats, rowboats, stand-up paddleboards, and for an additional fee, small motorboats. The sandy beach is flanked by a dock that features a rope swing that guests of all ages enjoy, a big floating trampoline that is a favorite with the gymnastics set, and a diving dock further afield. A slip-and-slide raft anchored in the shallow area is popular with the little ones. Buckets, shovels, sifters, and other sand toys complete the beach scene.

2016 June - Timberlock from the water

photo: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

At various times, we set off in two-person kayaks (note: the child should sit in front, with the stronger parent paddler in back) in search of distant beaches, islets and landmark trees that are outlined in Timberlock’s 147-page, home-grown hiking guidebook. Indian Lake is the quintessence of quiet waters and on a windless day, an easy place to maneuver even for beginning paddlers.

2016 June - riding Remmy

photo: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

Sports, Woodworking — and Ponies Too!
Novice whittlers and woodworkers can also experiment with the craft at the wood shop where educators are on hand to help you make bird houses, holiday ornaments, doll furniture and other memorabilia. Archery, volleyball, tennis, a rope swing, and an indoor playroom complete the range of activities at your family’s disposal.

And for beginning horseback riders, Remmy, the resident pony, is the ideal equine for an inaugural spin around the pen or the nearby bridle paths with a guide. Indeed, our kids’ appointments to ride Remmy (for $26 per ride) were the only times we looked at our watches! You can also book more adventurous rides on bigger horses but Remmy was the size and speed for us.

2016 June - Timberlock first day 026

photo: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

Take a Hike!
But you can’t say you’ve visited the Adirondacks without some deep-woods adventures. There are a couple of miles of flat, easy hikes and bridle paths around Timberlock, and a few bigger hikes in walking distance of the camp’s entrance. Still others are a reasonable drive away.

We chose the Pinnacle Mountain hike, a 1.6-mile trek up the Watch Hill Trail. The trailhead is one mile north (heading right out of Timberlock’s entrance) along Route 30. (You can drive but we walked. Route 30 has a substantial shoulder and little traffic, and you can hear cars coming from a good distance away.)

From the trailhead, follow the red trail markers over a dried up riverbed and then left onto the old Route 30. Walking on this wide, gravel path is very easy, if slightly uphill. After about 15 minutes, you head right at an obvious fork and the ascent becomes greater but the trail is easy to follow—shady, and stunningly verdant. Another 45 minutes later, you are at the top of a spectacular cliffside view of Indian Lake and the surrounding peaks. (As a testament to the ease of this trail, we passed a three-generation family on our way up,  which included an infant in a front carrier.)

timberlock note

photo: via Timberlock Facebook page

Family Tradition in the Making
Chatting with other families at meals, on the beach, or at the stables, it’s easy to see why so many have been coming back for years — if not generations. Indeed, one of us first visited Timberlock as a child several decades ago and can attest that little has changed — and that’s a wonderful (and rare!) — thing.
Rates vary between $141 and $220 per person per day ($94 to $161 for children up to age 17) depending on the cabin and whether or not it has a bath. Unlike many cabin resorts in the Adirondacks, Timberlock does not have a week-stay requirement, so you can escape for just a few days. Timberlock also offers various discounts for early-season stays, groups of 15 or more, and weekends from mid-September through early October.

Timberlock Resort
Timberlake Rd.
Indian Lake, Ny
518-648-5494
Online: timberlock.com

Do you have a favorite destination in The Adirondacks? Let us know about it in the comments! 

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—Cheryl de Jong-Lambert