18 Best Hikes in the Adirondacks

Believe it or not, New York’s famed Adirondack Park covers an area of nearly 6 million acres – a massive space that is larger than the size of Glacier National Park, the Everglades, Grand Canyon National Park, and Yellowstone combined.

Therefore, if you’re looking for some of the best hikes in the Adirondacks that take you through vast tracts of incredible, pristine wilderness, then you’ve come to the right place.

After all, I’ve lived here for several years now, have visited nearly every summer of my life, and know all about some of the best hiking trails in the Adirondacks – secret, well-hidden gems that are hidden away from the nearly 12. 4 million people that visit the region annually.

So, if you want to leave the hordes of selfie-stick-wielding tourists behind so that you can experience some of the best views in the Adirondacks all by yourself, then this is the post for you.

Because these are without a doubt, 18 of the all-time best day hikes in the Adirondacks – wonderfully quiet areas that will effortlessly transport you back to the ethereal tranquility of nature, one glorious hike at a time.

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Easy Hikes in the Adirondacks

1. Big Slide Mountain

View of Big Slide Mountain from the summit of Gothics mountain, one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.
A view of Big Slide Mountain from Gothics in the Adirondack High Peaks

Don’t worry, not all of the best hikes in the Adirondacks are insanely difficult – leaving you quite literally gasping for air.

In fact, the hike up Big Slide Mountain is pretty dang easy, at least as far hiking trails in the Adirondacks go.

So, if you want to tackle one of many easy Adirondack hikes, just hop on the loop trail that takes you up via The Brothers (three smallish mountains) and then descends via the Johns Brook Valley.

You can access the trailhead from the Garden parking lot and walk until you hit the junction with the Porter Mountain Trail.

Once here, you’ll cross a stream and the hike will get progressively steeper until your reach the first scenic overlook at First Brother.

You’ll then continue on to Second and Third Brother, leaving ample time to admire views of The Great Range and Gothics Mountain.

Also be sure to grab your camera at Third Brother since you’ll enjoy a nice view of Big Slide Mountain, aka that giant shark-fin-like mountain sitting right in front of you.

At this point, the path gets infinitely steeper as you make the final push to the summit of Big Slide. Just be sure to make a right at the junction as you push to the top.

Next, prepare to climb up giant log staircases as you bare left on the Herd Path and hit the summit.

Finally, once you’ve taken in all the awesome views from the top, use Johns Brook to get back down the mountain by making a left at the 4-way junction in the trail.

Pro Tip: Avoid parking issues and take a local shuttle bus from Marcy Field to the trailhead during the summer. You can also cool down after the hike at the Tenderfoot Pools before heading back home/to your hotel.

Location: Keene Valley

Distance: 9.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Route: Loop

2. Mount Arab

View of fall foliage and a log cabin from the summit of Mount Arab.

Another one of the awesome easy Adirondack hikes on this list, this short and sweet one-mile trek to the top of Mount Arab will take you maybe an hour to complete.

So, hit the trail and make your way through a stunning hardwood forest before you hit some rocky spots and some wooden stairs that will take you through the steepest parts of the trail.

As you approach the top, stay to the right and then go back via the left-hand side since you’ll find a rad fire tower here, in addition to a nifty little museum (inside a super cute log cabin) that details the incredible history of the Adirondacks and the many fire towers here.

Before you leave though, be sure to make time to climb to the top of the fire tower to get wickedly wonderful views of nearby Tupper Lake.

Pro Tip: This is one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks that is perfect for families. Just try and get there as early as possible to avoid crowds.

Location: Tupper Lake

Distance: 1.9 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Route: Out and Back

3. Panther Mountain

View from the summit of Panther Mountain, one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.

Hidden away in the area surrounding Saranac Lake, this short, 1.8 miles round trip trek is on one of the best hiking trails in the Adirondacks that should be used sometime between April and November.

It’s also one of the few hikes in the Adirondacks that offers visitors sweeping views of Pisco Lake and Spy Lake but with only 482-feet of elevation gain.

That being said, it’s still a steep, well-worn path that can get tricky around the rocky areas near Echo Cliff. So, use caution near local cliffs and enjoy the trip to the top of one of the easy Adirondack hikes on this list.

Location: Saranac Lake

Distance: 0.9 miles

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Route: Out and Back

4. Mount Severance

View of Lower Ausable Lake from the Indian Head Lookout in the Adirondacks.

This short, 2.3-mile trail is best used between April and October. It’s also one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks for families since there is a gradual increase of just 744 feet of elevation as you walk along the length of the trail.

And although there are some semi-steep sections, this is one of the many easy Adirondack hikes listed here that shouldn’t take you more than an hour to complete.

It’s also a well-marked, easy-to-follow trail that has a great secondary overlook that sits just beyond the primary viewpoint at the summit.

So, all of your hard work will be rewarded handsomely as you admire stellar panoramas of Pharoah Mountain, Paradox Lake, and Schroon Lake from the tippity top.

Location: Near Schroon Lake

Distance: 2.3 miles

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Route: Out and Back

5. Cascade Mountain

View from the snow-covered summit of  Cascade Mountain, one of the best hiking trails in the Adirondacks.

One of the many awesome but somewhat easy Adirondacks hikes on this list, this trailhead can be accessed from Route 73 in Keene, NY.

Just try and use it sometime between May and. October since it can get cold, muddy, snowy, and altogether unpleasant.

Other than that though, prepare for a low-key hike with a few mildly challenging rock scrambles that are perfectly complemented by stellar views of the Adirondacks.

You’ll also pass a waterfall and river along the way and probably won’t have the trail all to yourself since it’s well known as one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.

So, if you can, use this trail on a quiet, weekday morning during the busy summer months.

Pro Tip: You can easily hike to the summit of Cascade Mountain and Porter Mountain in a single trip. Also, come prepared with solid footwear since this trail can get exceptionally muddy.

Location: Keene (near Lake Placid)

Distance: 4.4 miles

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Route: Out and Back

Moderate Hikes in the Adirondacks

6. Gothics Mountain

View along a cliff from the summit of Gothics Mountain.

Easily one the best and most popular hikes in the Adirondacks on this list, the Gothics Mountain trailhead can be accessed from the Ausable Club.

Once here, get on this loop trail and enjoy a flat climb for about 3.5 miles. After this point, you’ll see the Lower Ausable Lake and can hop on the A.W. Weld Trail that will take you to a junction with Pyramid Peak.

Continue right towards Pyramid Peak and endure a steep final push towards the summit. Although, once at the top, you’ll enjoy some of the best views in the Adirondacks and can actually use an old dirt road on the south side of the mountain for an easier descent.

Pro Tip: On the way back down you’ll pass a waterfall that you can cool off in. You can also use the aforementioned road to hike up to the Pyramids and then go back down by way of the well-maintained Gothics Trail.

Location: Keene Valley

Distance: 12.3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Route: Loop

7. Rocky Peak Ridge

Mountain summit in the Adirondacks on one of the best day hikes in the Adirondacks.

Not to be taken lightly, the trek up Rocky Ridge is definitely a doozy but well worth the effort if you’re a serious hiker and want to enjoy one of the best day hikes in the Adirondacks.

Before you hit the trail though, be sure to pack plenty of water because this is an intense climb. I mean, there aren’t a ton of super technical sections and the trail is well-maintained but you’ll still do a lot of up and down climbing along smaller summits that will result in about 4,800 feet in elevation gain.

This is also one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks that will take upwards of ten hours to complete so prepare for a LONG day. However, at about 1.5 miles in you’ll hit a great viewpoint before ascending Blueberry Cobbles.

After that, take the trail on your right-hand side, which will take you down to Mason Notch and then up to Mason Mountain.

From here, ascend via Bald Peak and then either turn around or continue with a descent to Dickerson Notch and then a steady climb to the top of Rocky Peak itself – eventually passing Mary Louise Pond on the way back down.

Pro Tip: If you want you can spend the night at Mary Louise Pond since there is a campsite there.

Location: New Russia

Distance: 13.0 miles

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

Route: Out and Back

8. Algonquin Peak

View of Algonquin Peak in the Adirondacks, one of the best views in the Adirondacks.

This is one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks that will take you up the second tallest mountain in the state of New York. So, expect to spend anywhere between 9 and 11 hours on this intense trail.

However, if you’re up for the challenge of conquering one of. the best day hikes in the Adirondacks, then you can take Route 73 past the Lake Placid ski jumps and turn onto Adirondack Loj Road.

Continue down to the end of the road where you’ll find plenty of parking for a small fee. Once you’re ready, catch the trail to Marcy Dam and take that to an intersection with Algonquin Mountain.

As your approach Macintyre Falls, the hike will get steeper and you’ll come across two rocky sections before everything levels out again.

Next, make a left at a sign warning of rapidly changing weather and move through a junction with the Wright Peak Trail.

And finally, as you approach the summit, everything will get super steep and you’ll be totally exposed as you move above the timberline.

Pro Tip: If you’re feeling extra energetic while doing one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks, you can summit Iroquois Mountain while you’re here and get epic views of Whiteface Mountain. Also, if you want to make this a loop trail, you can return via Avalanche Pass and Lake Colden.

Location: Lake Placid

Distance: Between 9.4 miles and 10 miles depending on the route.

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

Route: Out and Back

9. Jay Mountain

Moon rising on top of Jay Mountain in the Adirondacks. One of the best views in the Adirondacks.

Do you enjoy open ridge hiking amidst some of the best views in the Adirondacks? If so then this is the perfect trail for you since you’ll be traveling along the aptly named, “highway in the sky” to the eastern and western summits of this gorgeous mountain.

So, to access the trailhead, park at the intersection of Jay Mountain Road and Upland Meadows Road and start a fun, 8+ mile round trip hike 3,600 feet in the air to the top of this gorgeous mountain.

Along the way, you’ll experience 2,400 feet of elevation gain and should be prepared for strong winds at the top. As you get closer to the summit, the trail can also be somewhat tricky to follow so be sure to pay close attention to where you’re going.

Pro Tip: One of the best hikes in the Adirondacks for sunrise, so get up early!

Location: Jay

Distance: 8+ miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Route: Out and Back

10. Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain

Hiker standing on the summit of Poke-O-Moonshine and enjoying one of the best views in the Adrindacks.

Home to some of the best views in the Adirondacks, Poke-O-Moonshine stands at 2,170 feet tall and sits near Keeseville in the Adirondacks.

It’s also one of the best hiking trails in the Adirondacks that only has around 1,200 feet of elevation gain, making for a fun but not super intense climb that is perfect for more novice hikers.

Additionally, the trail is well-maintained qith several segments of stone/wooden steps that have been built to help hikers get through steeper sections of the trail.

So, just one of the all-around best hikes in the Adirondacks from which to enjoy panoramas of Lake Champlain and even Plattsburgh.

Pro Tip: If you want to climb the fire tower on the summit, be sure to visit during the summer or on some weekends in the fall. Also, the sun can be really intense at mid-day so you may want to time your visit for either sunrise or sunset.

Location: Keeseville

Distance: 3.2 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Route: Out and Back

Difficult Hikes in the Adirondacks

11. Mount Marcy

View from the top of Mount Marcy, one of the best hikes in New York State.

Known for being the tallest mountain in the Adirondacks High Peaks region, Mount Marcy stands at 5,344 feet tall and is without a doubt home to one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.

That being said, this is one of the longer day hikes in the Adirondacks on this list. So, come prepared to spend at least a solid 10+ hours on the trail.

You should also be either an intermediate-level or experienced hiker since this trek will get exceptionally steep and tricky to navigate near the final mile.

However, if you’re up for it and want to admire some of the best views in the Adirondacks, then use the Van Hoevenberg Trail since this is the quickest and easiest way to the top.

You can access the trailhead at the parking lot for the High Peaks Information Center (near the Adirondack Loj) where you’ll need to pay $10 to park.

Now, once you’re on the trail, this hike will start off easy and rapidly become a bit more intense as you make your way across varied terrain and enjoy views of Mount Colden in the distance.

Then, after passing the last remaining sections of an old dam, you’ll cross Phelps Brook and climb on the herd path to the top of Indian Falls.

After this, it’s a semi-difficult climb until around 6.8 miles, when the trail gets really difficult as you climb up open rock faces to the summit.

Pro Tip: This is one of the most popular and best hiking trails in the Adirondacks so do try and visit during the week to avoid crowds. And if you can, bring a headlamp so that you can summit in time to watch the sunrise.

Location: Lake Placid

Distance: Between 14 and 16 miles or 10 hours to complete.

Difficulty: Difficult

Route: Out and Back

12. Whiteface Mountain

View of the weather station and castle at the top of Whiteface Mountain

Gear up hikers because you’re about to become well-acquainted with one of the most famous hikes in the Adirondacks.

Because Whiteface Mountain is an iconic peak in the region that is known for awesome ski trails, scenic mountainside drives, and a full-on stone castle that quietly sits at the top.

So, if you wanna skip the drive up Whiteface Memorial Highway and tackle this 5,000+ foot mountain yourself, then use the Wilmington Trailhead to hike to Marble Mountain.

Once there, get on the Esther Trail and use that to continue to the top of Whiteface where you’ll find some of the best views in the Adirondacks that stretch all the way out to Vermont on a clear day.

No, it’s not technically a challenging hike since there are lots of stone steps that you can take to the top, but it’s a long hike at around 10.1 miles. There’s also not much scenery on the way to the top since most of the trail is covered by trees.

Pro Tip: You can summit both Cascade and Porter Mountains while you’re here since they are nearby and it’s only a 5.6-mile to the top of both mountains.

Location: Lake Placid

Distance: 10.1 miles

Difficulty: Difficult/Moderate

Route: Out and Back

13. Mount Skylight

One of the best views in the Adirondacks

Okay, so even though this is technically one of the best day hikes in the Adirondacks, the trek up Mount Skylight is long. Like, 18.7 miles long to be precise.

So, if you can, try to spread out one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks across two days since you can easily camp at Lake Colden overnight.

Other than that, just catch the trailhead from the HPIC in Lake Placid or from Upper Works in Newcomb. My preference though would be to start at Upper Works since this hike is a bit easier and a lot less time-consuming.

From here, just continue on the trail to Flowed Lands until you hit the herd path to Mount Marshell. After this, the hike to Lake Colden is fairly easy peasey, until you move past the lake and hike along the Opalescent River.

You’ll know you’re heading in the right direction when you see the Uphill Lean-to and hit the intersection with Feldspar.

Eventually, you’ll pass the Lake tear of the Cloud and come across a major intersection with the trail for Mount Marcy. Make a right here and continue the steep climb to the summit so that you can marvel at one of the best views in the Adirondacks.

Pro Tip: Try to hike this trail any time between April and October.

Location: Lake Placid

Distance: 18.7 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

Route: Out and Back

14. Mount Colden

View of Mount Colden in the Adirondacks.

Without a doubt, this is probably one of the most challenging treks on this list of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.

That’s because the arduous climb up Mount Colden, via Avalanche Pass, features 3,000+ feet of elevation gain as you make a challenging and intense ascent up the mountain.

Thankfully though, you don’t have to go all the way to the summit to enjoy some of the best views in the Adirondacks. Because believe it or not, spectacular views start appearing at overlooks just past where Marcy Dam formerly stood.

However, if you’d like to continue along one of the best hiking trails in the Adirondacks, then do an intense climb to Avalanche Pass before traversing a series of ladders and walkways (aka “hitch-up-matildas”) that help you through several canyons.

Finally, you’ll see the always lovely Lake Colden and can then prepare for the final climb up Mount Colden. where you’ll savor impressive views of Mount Marcy and the MacIntyre Range.

Pro Tip: There are three different trails that you can use to climb this mountain – the Lake Arnold trail (the easiest one), the trap dyke (for exceptional hikers only), and the Mt. Colden trail

Location: Lake Placid

Distance: 12.8 miles

Difficulty: Very Difficult

Route: Loop

15. Dix Mountain

Fall foliage in the Adirondacks in New York

This is another one of the best day hikes in the Adirondacks that you could easily break up into smaller hikes over two days since there ample spots where you can camp at Round Pond.

However, if you’re hell-bent on doing one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks in a single day, then you can park at the Round Pond Entrance just past the Chapel Parking area near the DEC sign (you could also park at the Elk Lake entrance).

Once on the trail, it’s a moderate/steep climb to Round Pond and then onwards to an intersection, where the trail finally levels out before you hit Bouquet River Lean-to (4.2-mile mark).

From the lean-to onwards, the trail gets infinitely more challenging as you climb an eroding path to the summit. Once at the top, you can then see Vermont’s Green Mountains and New Hampshire’s White Mountains in the distance.

Pro Tip: The Elk Lake Route is typically closed in the winter and throughout the fall for hunting season. You also DO NOT want to park on the shoulder of the road since your car WILL be towed.

Location: Keene Valley

Distance: 13.2 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

Route: Out and Back

16. Allen Mountain

View of Allen Mountain from Giant Mountain.

If you want to transform this into one of the best day hikes in. the Adirondacks, then bring a headlamp and start out long before dawn since this epic, 18-mile hike will take somewhere between 9 and 11 hours to complete.

But, if you like a challenge then this may just be one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks for you.

So, feel free to drive to the trailhead near Tahwwus Road and continue on the trail until you cross a bridge over the Hudson River that will lead you to Lake Jimmy.

At this point, make a hard left down a bypass and follow a path that will take you to a bridge that traverses the Opalescent River. Once at the 5-mile mark, turn right onto an unmarked trail that is known locally as the herd path.

Take some time to admire some of the best views in the Adirondacks here because this is definitely the most picturesque section of the trail – a path that will quickly intensify once you pass Allen Brook.

There’s also a super slippery slide here that you can easily avoid by hiking on a side path before continuing to the top of one of the best hiking trails in the Adirondacks.

Location: Newcomb

Distance: Between 18 and 20 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

Route: Out and Back

17. Mount Haystack

The two haystacks and one of the best hiking trails in the Adirondacks.

Since Mount Haystack is the third tallest mountain in the High Peaks region, the trek up this 4,960-foot tall mountain is not to be taken lightly.

After all, this is one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks that is almost 16 miles long and that features upwards of 3,800 feet in elevation gain.

But, if you can handle all that mountain(y) goodness, then you’ll be treated to some. of the best views in the Adirondacks of the Great Range.

So, what are you waiting for? Hop on the trailhead near Keene and hike along the northern banks of Johns Brook. You’ll eventually see some shelters at Bushnell Farms before crossing over the brook, and then continuing on to the shelter at Slant Rock.

From here, you’ll take the Shorey’s Short Cut Trail and do a steep ascent to the junction with the Range Trail. You can then hop on the Range Trail and take that to Little Haystack.

At this point, you’ll now be able to see the Haystack but will first have to do a 20-foot step down over an exposed surface before a final push to the top.

Pro Tip: Do not attempt this hike in the winter unless you are an experienced winter hiker with the right gear.

Location: Keene Valley

Distance: 15.9 miles

Difficulty: Very Difficult

Route: Out and Back

18. Ampersand Mountain

View of Saranac Lake from the summit of Ampersand Mountain.

If you’re an avid, experienced hiker who wants to visit Saranac Lake, then this may just be one of the best hiking trails in the Adirondacks for you.

Because this deceptively short, 2.7-mile hike up this 3,353-foot mountain starts off easy enough but quickly transitions into a much more rugged and intense climb at the 1.5-mile mark.

The steepness only increases when you encounter a set of stone steps that leads you to a supremely rocky path, dotted by giant boulders, to the summit.

So, even though this is one the best hikes in the Adirondacks that isn’t an officially 46er, you’ll still love the views and have a lot of fun doing some impromptu bouldering on the way to the top.

Pro Tip: You can park your car in the lot across the street from the trailhead, which sits in between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake on Route 3.

Location: Tupper Lake/Saranac Lake

Distance: 5.4 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

Route: Out and Back

Map of the Best Hikes in the Adirondacks

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Additional New York Travel Resources You’ll Love

Well, that just about concludes this awesome guide to all of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.

Tell me, did your picks for the best hiking trails in the Adirondacks make the list? If not then let me know in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “18 Best Hikes in the Adirondacks”

  1. A lot of these pictures don’t match up with the hike listed just so you know

    4. Picture is Indian Head
    6. Not from Giant.
    7. Picture is Cascade
    13. Picture is Indian Head

    Reply

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