On the opposite side of Whiteface from the quiet community of Wilmington there is a stretch of seldom travelled road that is an absolute delight for road cyclists. This piece of pavement pedaling paradise is known by many names. Some call it Franklin Falls Rd. others simply refer to it as "the road up the back side of Whiteface" and there is sign on the Bloomingdale side that calls it "River Rd." At it's point closest to the Whiteface Memorial Highway it is even referred to as Gillispie Drive on some maps.
According to Google Maps everyone is right. From Bloomingdale it is referred to as River Rd. until the Saranac River flows into Franklin Pond, at which point it is referred to as Franklin Falls Road. Regardless it is a great stretch of road that can be included into a route in many ways. If Wilmington is your starting point it can be a great out and back route to go up the hill at the four corners (Bonnieview Rd, rt. 86, and rt. 431)Towards Santa's workshop, bear right just before the toll-both for the memorial highway, and enjoy the descent down to Franklin Falls Road. It is a beautiful spin paralleling the Franklin Pond and the Saranac River all the way to Bloomingdale. When you get to rt. 3 in Bloomingdale you cans top for some ice cream, turn around, and retrace your steps for an equally fun ride in the opposite direction.
Earlier this week I teamed up with my Ironman in-training room mate for what we call the "Franklin Falls Loop." We met up in Lake Placid, threw our legs over our bikes and headed for Saranac Lake. We enjoyed the recently paved shoulder on rt. 86 to Ray Brook and tried to avoid some traffic by making a right turn on Mackenzie Pond Road.
We were confronted by a fairly steady headwind as we spun our pedals toward Bloomingdale. In Bloomingdale we briefly stopped to make sure that we didn't need any extra fluids or snacks as this the last reliable town for a stop until Wilmington. We followed the sign towards Whiteface and Franklin Falls as we made a right turn onto River Rd. for the best part of this ride.
We only counted three cars as we spun along making sure to stay on Franklin Falls Rd. and rejoiced when we saw the sign indicating we were back in Essex County. The rejoice was short as we began to see the challenge of climbing the shoulder of Whiteface ahead of us. The terrain is only uncomfortably steep for a short time and we were delighted to reach the top where "Gillispie Rd." meets rt. 431 just beneath the Toll Booth on the Whiteface memorial highway.
We carefully descended down to the 4 corners in Wilmington made a right turn and headed back to Lake Placid. We negotiated the deceivingly difficult section past Whiteface climbed through the notch over the three bumps leading into Lake Placid, and coasted back to our starting position at Liquids and Solids for some well deserved post-ride refreshment.
Our time for this route, which can also be done in reverse was right around three hours, ridden at moderate pace. It is one of my favorite loops to do, and should not be missed during a cycling trip to the region.