How to Hike the Adirondacks

How to Hike the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks are a popular location for hiking and backpacking in New York state. Many of the mountain trails climb above 4,000 feet in elevation, with beautiful valley views and generally mild temperatures in the fall and spring months. You might encounter waterfalls on your way through the forested pathways, and standing on the summits, you will have a bird's eye view of the pine trees along the rocky dome.

If your next stop is going to be a walk through the mountain trails in the Adirondacks, the following guide will be useful for planning your trip.

Tips for Hiking in the Adirondacks

Safety is important during any outdoor excursion, and planning ahead will help you prepare for your journey through the mountains. Below are some smart tips for staying careful and active.

1. Hike With a Friend

Hiking with friends is a lot of fun. You can share in your awe of the settings around you and fill the time with entertaining conversation. However, having a hiking party is also safer than exploring remote areas alone. Just make sure everyone in your group is aware of safety guidelines and knows what to do in an emergency. 

2. Bring Plenty of Water

Even if you are hiking when the weather is cold, making sure you are staying hydrated is a must. In addition to drinking water, consider bringing a naturally-flavored citrus drink like orange juice to give you a kick of energy for when you have been on the trails for a while.

3. Have Access to a Map

Bring a paper map with you. A paper map will always be available without your internet connection or your phone's battery. Even experienced hikers who could walk through a familiar area without using a map should bring one anyway, just in case.

4. Set Camp Before Nightfall

Always start setting up camp before the sun goes down. It's more difficult to put a tent or shelter together in the dark or while holding a flashlight. You can also see your surroundings better when there is still some daylight left. 

5. Bring Your Fishing Rod & Binoculars

While this doesn’t fall under the realm of safety, it’s an essential step to ensure you can take in the beauty of the trails in all their detail and partake in some of the most popular activities of avid Adirondacks hikers. Whether you’re hiking for the views or the path of the trails, you’ll get to see some spectacular wildlife. Along many of the trails, there are backcountry trout ponds where you can keep your fishing skills sharp and see striking fish native to the area. Or, stop to take in the scenery while birdwatching with a set of binoculars or your favorite spotting scope.

Top Hiking Trails in the Adirondacks

With so many amazing trails to choose from, you will probably only have enough time to walk a select handful. Below are some of our top picks for the best day hikes in the Adirondacks. These winding foot trails over the Adirondack slopes make great starting points for your tour of New York's mountainscape.

Mount Marcy via the Van Hoevenberg Trail

Van Hoevenberg is the most popular hiking trail on Mount Marcy, the tallest mountain in the state. It will take you on a one-way path past a crystal clear lake and up to the summit. It is a more difficult trail, so make sure you prepare accordingly. If you will be traveling in the winter, the road leading to this area might be closed for the season, and you will have to go on a satisfying hike from the nearest parking area before reaching the trailhead.

Mount Colden via Avalanche Pass

Avalanche Pass is the longer loop hiking trail on Mount Colden. The long way around is better sometimes, especially when you are exploring unique mountainous landscapes. This trail will take you past Avalanche Lake and through rugged terrain up to the summit of Mount Colden.

Mount Skylight Trail

Rear view of a man's legs as he hikes through a rocky patch of Mount Skylight Trail

As the name suggests, this trail involves a steep walk up Mount Skylight and is known for its active waterfalls. The path ahead is rocky and known for being a little more difficult than average. If you are up for the challenge, though, this trail delivers some interesting terrain.

Best Adirondack Hikes for the Views

If you're looking for a scenic escape, here are some of the top trails in the Adirondacks to tour for taking in the area's natural beauty.

Panther Mountain

This area offers beginner-friendly inclines with unforgettable views. If you are hiking in autumn, the warm tones of the changing leaves will stand out. When the weather is cloudy or has just the right amount of precipitation, you might feel like you are in a dream as you make the hike up Panther Mountain.

Gothics Mountain

The rock slides here in the High Peaks region look a lot like Gothic architecture, which is how this mountain was named. Gothics Mountain is recommended for advanced hikers, but if you are experienced enough or have the right equipment for balance, the views you will find here are well worth the exertion. 

Baxter Mountain

With a shorter trail than most, Baxter Mountain features some open areas with notable wildflowers in a variety of colors. The kinds of flowers will vary depending on the season. You might see a few rare plants here too that are local to the region. 

Best Backpacking in the Adirondacks

Maybe you are planning to spend a few days on the trails with your tent slung over your shoulders? Here are some of the best trails for backpacking.

North Country Trail

The path from Old Forge to Crown Point takes several days to complete, making the North Country Trail ideal for a backpacking trek through the Adirondacks. Following the path from Old Forge will take you on a point-to-point stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail, which runs from North Dakota to Vermont. 

Hanging Spear Falls via Calamity Brook Trail

Calamity Brook Trail is long enough to make a great backpacking tour for beginners and is also dog-friendly. With plenty of designated camping areas to rest at and interconnecting trails to extend the trip, taking this lighter route will give you the opportunity for a few days of hiking fun.

Northville Lake Placid Trail

This lengthy trail is best traveled in segments and with gear. The terrain is challenging to navigate, but the Lake Placid Trail will have checkpoints and camping areas to look forward to reaching as you make your way through. The occasional lean-to or suspension bridge dispersed throughout the lightly traveled trail will remind you that civilization is waiting.

Stay With Kampgrounds of America on Your Trip to the Adirondacks

When you stay in Lake Placid, you are close enough to see the mountain peaks, and you can reach the trails on a short walk. Remember to leave no trace as you make your way through the well-traversed regions.

After spending your day hiking or returning after an epic backpacking excursion, come join us at Lake Placid / Whiteface KOA and experience our Tent Sites. We offer options for Tent Sites with electricity, and some of our sites have a lean-to where your party can rest while you set up camp. Want to step up the luxury factor after exploring? Be sure to check out our Deluxe Cabins that feature a luxurious queen bed, linens and water access, among other amenities. The amazing scenery of Lake Placid awaits, so book your stay at Lake Placid / Whiteface Mountain KOA via phone or online! 

Wide view of Lake Placid, with evergreen trees and mountains at sunset

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