Unlike other towns within the friendly confines of Adirondack Park, North Creek doesn't rely on Olympic venues or outlet shops to draw tourists. Everyone knows everyone else in this officially designated "hamlet," home to a hodgepodge of residents as diverse as the venerable park's patchwork of public and private lands. Nestled between the churning whitewater of the upper Hudson River and the unpretentious Gore Mountain ski area, this is Lake Placid without the Olympic crowds. So it's fitting that when Pete Burns isn't leading Class IV-plus rafting trips or coaching the high-school ski team, he heads off for his stash of solitude in the 112,000-acre Siamese Ponds Wilderness. Starting at the Old Farm Clearing trailhead at the end of Thirteenth Lake Road (NY 78), he treks 6 miles west to Puffer Pond, where a lean-to and fine brook-trout fishing await (see map). On day two, he leaves a basecamp and follows the King's Flow Trail up to a majestic 2,721-foot perch atop Chimney Mountain--the last section an easy 5th-class climb. After scanning the wilderness from the peak's exposed rock spire, Burns explores year-round ice caves, and afterward completes a 7-mile loop along Puffer Pond Brook Trail back to Puffer for another Adirondacks evening before heading out. Ah, the hardship.
» Café Sarah serves baked goods, yummy sandwiches, and fresh-roasted coffee. Locals dig the mozzarella and pesto on ciabatta bread. (518) 251-5959
» Trapper's Tavern, the sweaty-hiker part of the elegant Copperfield Inn, re-creates the feel of the region circa 1720 with log walls and antler chandeliers. Trapper's Stew and draft beer replace the calories you cooked on the trail. www.copperfieldinn.com/ci_trap.htm
» Camp anywhere within the Siamese Ponds Wilderness that lies 150 feet from water, trail, or road (unless it's a designated site). Permits are required only for camping for three-plus nights at the same site.
» Goose Pond Inn is the prototypical Adirondack
B&B, set in a 100-year-old house. Start your day with brandied French toast and sautéed apples. Rates start at $85 for a double. www.goosepondinn.com
Best dayhike Right off the main drag, Schaefer Trail rises 2.5 miles through mature hardwood forest and past house-sized glacial erratics to Burnt Ridge. Take in the High Peaks to the north, then follow the ridge 2 miles to Gore Mountain's 3,583-foot summit.
Best river running The Hudson Gorge is a 16-mile mosh of near-continuous Class III and IV whitewater. April is high season, but water releases keep rafts running into autumn. Hudson River Rafting (www.hudsonriverrafting.com) has guides and free camping.
Pete Burns' Beaver Brook Outfitters in nearby Wevertown leads fly-fishing, caving, and paddling trips (among others), sells gear, and dispenses local wisdom on nearby adventures. www.beaverbrook.net