Easy Short Lake Placid Hikes and Adirondack Museums: The ADK Loj's Heart Lake Nature Museum

By Diane Chase

Only in the Adirondacks can a person go for a walk and come across a museum. The Adirondack Mountain Club’s (ADK) Heart Lake Nature Museum seems more nature center than museum but what’s in a name. As in the Gershwin song, “You say either and I say eyether; you say neither and I say nyther.”* It’s not the name that matters but what is inside that counts. I double-check the meaning of museum and it is simply a building where objects of artistic, historical or scientific importance are kept and studied.

My child’s collection of rocks, old bottles and action figures only partially meets the criteria. For all I know major scientific discoveries could be found in his room as well but would I want them on display? We are not ready to open up to the public and I’m not sure what the interest level would be anyway.

On the other hand, the Heart Lake Nature Museum’s one room schoolhouse appeal gets children and adults alike to examine the natural world. The “Cranium Case” showcases what you’d expect, various skulls. People are encouraged to pick up certain items and use clues to determine the type of animal. Is it a carnivore? Only the teeth will tell. The touch table allows everyone to be a part of nature. Another bonus of the small size is that children can go right outside and apply what they see. One such display is the “Nature Detective” which directs us to identify coniferous or deciduous trees and wildflowers.

In the afternoon a craft or activity is available for children of all ages. We are just in time to make fish prints. I am grateful that the fish are not real but rubber models the kids paint and press onto paper. While the kids paint the fish an unrealistic rainbow of color the ADK naturalist seizes the opportunity to explain what fish we could find in the Adirondacks and various body parts. We discover the various fishy fins from dorsal to caudal.

From Lake Placid take 73E toward Keene for about three miles, turn right on Adirondack Loj Road. At the end of the road is Adirondack Loj and Heart Lake. Though entrance to the museum is free, there is a charge for parking ($9/day for non-ADK members and $3/day for members).

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) is a member-driven organization that is committed to stewardship, environmental education, and the protection of NYS lands and waters. A schedule of free events ranging from nature walks to star gazing can be found at www.adk.org or by calling 523-3441 for more information.
*Song lyrics from Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off by George and Ira Gershwin.

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