27 Fun & Beautiful Hikes in the Adirondacks to Explore

When visiting the Adirondacks, exploring a hiking trail is a must. This region is filled to the brim with of natural wonders just waiting to be explored by us outdoor lovers. There are waterfalls cascading down ancient boulders, gorgeous lakes, fields of wildflowers fluttering with birds and butterflies, and towering mountain peaks as far as the eye can see. And if you’re an outdoor newbie? Don’t worry! There is a hiking trail for all levels. Even if you don’t have time to complete an entire hike, hitting any of these Adirondack trails for an hour or so will ignite a connection with nature you can’t replicate. Here are my favorite and the prettiest hikes in the Adirondacks!


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Best Hikes in the Adirondacks

Cobble Lookout ★

Cobble Lookout is one of my favorite hiking trails in the Adirondacks. It’s quick, easy, and has a massive payoff. However, you have to be mindful during high season of crowds and limited parking. I went in June and it was quiet, easy, and I found parking. However, someone mentioned a bear spotting when I went, so be mindful of that as well. Be sure to grab some Whitebrook ice cream in Wilmington (one of my favorite towns in the Adirondacks).

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2.4 miles
  • Route: Out & back

Henry’s Woods

One of the best things to do in Lake Placid is hiking Henry’s Woods Trails. This network of hiking trails is located on a beautiful community reserve with several trail options varying from easy to complex. The Henry’s Woods Loop is the longest, easiest route at 2.3 miles and connects to most other trails. It’s highly desirable for hikers, runners, mountain bikers, and winter cross country skiers, featuring a modest climb to a high plateau. The premier trail for rock climbers is Rocky Knob, which extends 0.9 miles with aggressive climbs and switchbacks for an exciting adventure. 

  • Difficulty: Easy-Moderate 
  • Length: 2.3 miles with side trails 
  • Route: Loops

John Brown Farm ★

History lovers! A stop at the John Brown Farm is a must! Learn about the abolitionist history of the Lake Placid region, and then head into the woods for a hike.

The John Brown Farm trails are open year-round and feature three routes: the Potatoe Field Look, Maple Grove Trail, and the Ski Jump Trail. The Potatoe Field Loop is the longest at 1.8 miles and passes through a series of lush forests. The Maple Grove Trail (0.3 loop) offers a unique climb perfect for spotting local birds. We recommend leaving your dog at home as no pets are allowed on these trails. For avid bird and butterfly watchers, check out this list of wildlife spotted on the trails. 

If it’s wet, don’t forget to bring your rain boots (like we did)!

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2.6 mile 
  • Route: Loop

Rainbow Falls & Indian Head ★

Indian Head offers unforgettable wide-open views of the Lower Great Range, Pinnacle Range, and glittering waters of the Ausable Lakes. There are three routes to Indian Head: Indian Head Trail, East River Trail, and Gill Brook Trail.

If you have time, we recommend planning your hike to include Rainbow Falls– one of the most magical waterfalls in the Adirondacks, standing at 150’ tall. You can veer off the East River Trail or Indian Head Trail, and it’s worth every minute.

Because Indian Head is located on the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, all hikers must have a permit to hike– no exceptions. The rules on this trail are strict so take a look before you hike!

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 10.8 mile 
  • Route: Loop

Whiteface Mountain ★

This was one of our favorite experiences in Lake Placid! Whiteface Mountain is New York’s fifth highest peak offering some of the most breathtaking hiking trails in the Adirondacks and several paths to the top. We did the Whiteface Mountain Summit-Stairway Ridge Trail, which takes 30-60 minutes (depending on how often you stop to catch your breath and take pictures). With this hike, you drive to the bottom of the steps, park, and climb upstairs with some rocky scrambles.

The second most popular hike here is the Whiteface Mountain Summit Trail. This one is hardcore and can take 8+ hours to hike the 4,867-foot summit.

Once at the top, soak up the stunning panoramic view of the Adirondack Park for miles– you can even see Canada and Vermont on a clear day! The hike is exciting for those looking for a new perspective and a challenge, with a steep incline most of the way.

Don’t have time to hike either trail? Take a drive up the mountain using the Veterans Memorial Highway and take the elevator!

  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate to Hard
  • Length: .05 miles to 10.1 mile 
  • Route: Out & back 

High Falls Gorge

Set on 22 acres of natural beauty, High Falls Gorge has several paved, flat trails for easy hiking gracing majestic waterfalls. The most popular destination is the trail through the falls, which takes about 30 minutes to complete; trails can get a little crowded, so arriving early is always best. The path is well-shaded, and you can easily view the four waterfalls on the property– close enough to feel the mist!

  • Difficulty: Easy peasy
  • Length: 1 mile (paved)
  • Route: Loop
  • Entrance: $15-ish

Ausable Chasm

Ausable Chasm is in one of my favorite small towns in the Adirondacks: Keeseville, NY! This privately-owned natural attraction offers several activities, such as different hiking trails, tubing, and rafting. The Ausable Chasm trails sport fantastic canyon views, exploring the chasm on a short but stunning 2-mile loop. There are several accessible trails, some of which are paved with handrails for hikers of all ages.

If it rains, some trails (like the River Walk) will not be accessible. This happened to us. So check the weather before you plan your trip. There is a fee to access the chasm, so it’s best to prepare for at least half a day here, as there are plenty of other activities to fill your outdoorsman soul: rock climbing, biking, and more!

Beware: The manager here was extremely rude to us. He humiliated us in front of his staff because he couldn’t find our press passes in his system (at first). He simply didn’t believe we could be working in media. So he was disgustedly dismissive of anything we had to say. We were in shock and begged him to look. Then when he finally did, he COMPLETELY changed his tune, almost psychotically. So it’s not that he hates the press, it’s that he hated us! Do you think he would have treated us the same way if we were two white people with blue hair and blond eyes? The denial and treatment would have been the same? Racism in upstate New York is very common. But that incident really sour taste in our mouths for the rest of the Ausable Chasm experience.

  • Difficulty: Easy (unless you pick the River Walk)
  • Length: 1.9 mile 
  • Route: Loop
  • Entrance: $30-ish and up; depends on the package you choose

Haystack Mountain

Exploring the Haystack Mountain Trail in the Mckenzie Mountain Wilderness Area is perfect for hikers desiring a mix of friendly and steep terrain. The 3.3-mile trail winds through the woods at the base of Little Burn Mountain, ending with outstanding 180-degree views of the High Peaks, Whiteface Mountian, and Saranac Lake water chain. There are gentle ups and downs until you cross over the dam, when a steep climb up an eroded gully begins. Haystack Mountain Trail is open all year round, but it’s a reasonably challenging snowshoe venture. Don’t’ confuse this trail with Mount Haystack– this one is in Ray Brook. 

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 8.1 mile 
  • Route: Loop

Heaven Hills

Navin

Heaven Hills is a fun network of hiking trails sporting beautiful views for little effort. The trail will take about 1 hour to complete, and it’s a wonderful hike to bring your pup. While the elevation gain is only 173’, this is a perfect walk for beginners and families. There are fields of wildflowers bustling with butterflies, and you can see the towering high peaks from both fields on the trail. Hikers can choose from three different loops: Big Field Loop (0.9-miles), Old Orchard Loop (1.4-miles), and the Bear Cub Loop (1.5-miles). This trail is also a hot spot for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing!

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 3.2 mile 
  • Route: Loop

Baker Mountain

Baker Mountain is one of the most popular things to do in Saranac Lake and another natural attraction in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area. The trail starts off easy for a few minutes and then it’s all incline. Because it’s by Moody Pond, prepare for it be extra buggy. It takes about 2-3 hours to complete the loop, but experienced hikers can complete it faster.

Ascending to the summit offers a cute view between the trees. But it really does get a little rough at the top with some scrambles. Bring the right shoes so you don’t slide down like I did. And remember to bring a map or download AllTrails to avoid trail marker confusion on your way. 

On the way down, we chose a longer trail and it was a million times easier. If you want that, ask locals on the trail to tell you which is the much easier but slightly longer trail.

  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Length: 1.6 mile 
  • Route: Loop (or in & out)

Bluff Island

two hikers on a rock by the lake
Top of Bluff Island with our kayaking guide

If you love to kayak and hike, you can stop by Bluff Island on your Adirondack adventure. This unique hiking option features a short 5-minute hike that you have to kayak to access. Bluff Island is located in Lower Saranac Lake in a semi-remote area, creating a little adventure oasis. It’s a popular spot for cliff jumpers–although we do NOT recommend anyone jump– offering access to multiple cliffs ranging in height. We went on a kayaking tour to Bluff Island with Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters folks.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 5 minutes 
  • Route: Out & back

Mount Van Hoevenberg ★

There are several trails and loops at Mount Van Hoevenberg for hikers of all abilities. We recommend taking the MVH East Trail, one of the newest trails in the Adirondack Park. This 4.7-mile round trip takes about 2.5 hours to complete and was built as a sustainable example for the future of hiking in the region. If you’re looking for a difficult hike, the Hi-Notch trail is a 3.3-mile loop based out of the Mountain Pass Lodge that spans the Cross Country portion of the Olympic Venue. There is unlimited free parking, restrooms on site, and a cafe to grab some food and drinks.

  • Difficulty: Easy-Difficult (depending on trail)
  • Length: 12+ miles
  • Route: Loops and Out & back

Mount Marcy ★

Ready to hike the tallest mountain in New York State? The trail up to Mount Marcy is challenging, with an elevation gain of 3,536’. We wouldn’t suggest pairing Mount Marcy with other hiking trips, as the out & back trail can take up to 8.5 hours, depending on your ability. You can expect unforgettable scenery from the summit of this wonder– do not forget your camera. Backpacking is huge on this route, and you’re likely to see many explorers making a long day out of reaching the summit. You can also access Indian Falls from this trail, a spectacular waterfall scaling 25-ft. 

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 16.7 mile 
  • Route: Out & back

Mount Jo

Reviews on Mount Jo say it’s easy and breezy, but this trail has many steep areas that may not be suitable for beginners. Be prepared for paths with mud, rocks, and exposed roots that make for an exciting hike. At the summit, there is a scramble at the top to incredible views of Heart Lake and Macintosh Range. This trail can get pretty busy during the day. If you want more privacy, try early morning or later in the day to avoid the crowds. Also, you must pay for parking at the Heart Lake Trailhead. 

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 1.8 miles
  • Route: Loop

Scarface Mountain

Scarface Mountain is an incredible hike and part of the Saranac 6er Series. It’s the perfect day trip if you’re staying in downtown Lake Placid, only 10 minutes from the best breweries in the Adirondacks. Flat trails for walking and biking surround the mountain’s base and steeper sections for avid climbers towards the top with a bit of scrambling and wet conditions. If you’re into fishing, you can find prime fishing spots following the easy path over the railroad tracks to the bridge passing over Ray Brook. Dogs are allowed on and off leash in certain areas. 

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 7.4 mile 
  • Route: Out & back

Balanced Rocks

Hiking to the Balanced Rocks is a short but worthwhile experience right along the Pitchoff traverse in Lake Placid. These unique formations are erratics left behind from the last glaciers that passed through the Adirondack region. Following the West Trail are two prime spots with a spectacular view of the Lower and Upper Cascade lakes below. You can access a third overlook with a steep scramble for another scenic opportunity. I suggest staying on the marked paths for this hike as the rocks can get quite slippery, especially after it rains. Beware: Parking fills up quickly, particularly in the summer.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 1.6 miles
  • Route: Out & back

Owl’s Head Mountain

The journey up Owl’s Head Mountain is a great hike near the alluring Long Lake. The first few miles have a few downed trees to navigate but are generally easy for humans– slightly challenging for dogs. The last mile is the steepest, with a scramble and some muddy bits. At the top, visitors can access the restored fire tower, where you can climb to the top for spectacular 360 views of Long Lake, Blue Mountain, Racket Lake, Mount Marcy, and more. There are two routes: Lake Eaton Campground Trailhead (6 miles) and Endion Road Trailhead (3.1 miles)

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 6.3 mile 
  • Route: Out & back

Flume Knob

Flume Knob is a mixed terrain trip in Wilmington that is a must-add to your list of short hikes. It’s a quick and thrilling hike to fit into your busy day, but watch for poison ivy that lines the trail entrance! Several trails lead into the Flume Knob Trail, but to stay on track with your climb, follow the signs directly to Flume Knob. At one point, there will be an intersection where the trail becomes aggressive, with washed-out areas from heavy rain and steep terrain. Once at the summit at an elevation of 2,270’, you can see beautiful views of the Jays. 

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 3.1 mile 
  • Route: Out & back

Mt. Arab

Located in the lush Horshoe Lake Forest, Mount Arab is a 1.9-mile trail near Tupper Lake popular among local hikers, bird watchers, and snowshoers. While it’s somewhat challenging, Mount Arab is exquisite and offers so much natural beauty for visitors to enjoy. At the top of the trail, there’s a fire tower you can climb to see Mount Morris and Tupper Lake southeast, the Raquette River valley north, the Adirondack High Peaks east, and a spatter of sparkling lakes. Being a short hike, the trails can get busy. Set off early or near the end of the day for more open trails. 

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 1.9 mile 
  • Route: Out & back

Ampersand Mountain 

This hike is perfect for those who want a challenge but don’t want to spend the whole day on the same terrain. Ampersand Mountain Trail takes less than 4 hours and spans 5.4-miles, perfect for both winter and summer hikes. There will be a little scrambling and bouldering on steeper slopes towards the peak. On a clear day, you can turn in any direction and spot a breathtaking view of the surrounding peaks and forest canopies. Bring snowshoes and spikes to keep your footing if you’re climbing in the winter. 

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 5.4 miles 
  • Route: Out & back

Hurricane Mountain

Hurricane Mountain is one of Lake Placid’s 9er mountains and provides striking views from an open peak at an elevation of 3,678’. There are three one-way paths to the top: Route 9N Trail (3.4 miles), Hurricane Lane (2.7 miles), and Crow Clearing (3 miles). The Route 9N Trail is perfect for beginners. It was relocated back in 2014 to eliminate the steep, eroded sections of the trail and features new switchbacks and a series of bridges over beaver swamps. There’s a newly restored fire tower at the top hikers can take their scenic view to a whole new level.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 5.8 miles (North Approach) 6.7 miles (South Approach) 
  • Route: Out & back

Gothics via Pyramid Peak ★

Gothics is one of the most incredible peaks in the Adirondack region. This bald mountain has a summit with spectacular views and is a great spot to picnic and relax in between your hike. There are a few ways to the summit, but I recommend the Pyramid Peak Loop, which takes about 8.5 hours. As you make your way up this trail, it’s relatively flat for about 3.5 miles before splitting off onto the Weld Trail to the peak. This is a very steep portion of the climb, not for inexperienced climbers– be prepared to gain elevation quickly! You must make a reservation on the AMR website

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 12.3 mile 
  • Route: Loop 

Northville Lake Placid

This is probably not a trail you will be looking to complete unless you are a committed hiker, but the views and well-groomed paths make it an excellent route to explore! Northville Lake Placid Trailhead starts in Northville and extends north through the region 132.2 miles, ending in Lake Placid. It’s perfect terrain for running, snowshoeing, and backpacking, only minutes from the best restaurants in Lake Placid on Main Street. In certain areas, the trail can get a little muddy, but the views are scenery worth it. 

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 132.2 mile 
  • Route: Point to point

T Lake Falls Trail

Want to see the tallest waterfall in the Adirondacks? The only way to get to this natural wonder is to hike the 10-mile-round trip moderately challenging route near Speculator New York to get there! The site of the falls is breathtaking, no matter what time of the year you make the trip. The T Lake Falls Trail will take you to the top of the falls, whheavere you can take in the impressive 500’ to 600’ drop. You will have to keep a close eye on some overgrown and muddy parts of the trail as it can get slippery quickly. 

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 10 miles 
  • Route: Out & back

Severance Mountain

This short one-mile hike is great for hikers of all ages looking for fantastic views. It takes about an hour and is a perfect quick trip with a big reward. Located in Schroon Lake, there is a gradual terrain for most of the hike through a shaded Adirondack forest canopy. A steep section towards the top may require you to assist younger climbers, but it’s worth the views. At the highest point, hikers can look down into the valley upon sparkling Schroon Lake, Paradox Lake, and the stunning Pharoah Mountain. I would suggest going in the morning to avoid crowding as it can get dicey with too many people at the top. 

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 2.3 miles
  • Route: Out & back

Cobble Hill

NOT to be confused with Cobble Lookout (listed above), Cobble Hill is a popular trail on the shore of picturesque Mirror Lake. It takes about an hour to complete and boasts stunning views of Lake Placid’s High Peaks and village. Paying attention to the trail markings is essential as several intersections lead to private land. While it can be perfect for beginners, a steep section near the top with exposed rock may be difficult. Cobble Hill is open all year round and fantastic for winter hiking. Snowshoes are a must, and spikes are recommended for the rockier sections. NOTE: There is no longer trailhead parking. Designated parking is available on Mirror Lake Drive.

  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Length: 2.3 miles 
  • Route: Loop 

Frequently Asked Questions: HIKING IN THE ADIRONDACKS

  1. Where is the best hiking in the Adirondacks?
    • Lake Placid is a hub for hikers, surrounded by tons of hiking options such as Whiteface Mountain, Scarface Mountain,  Heaven Hills Trails, Northville Lake Trailhead, Haystack Mountain Trail, and more.
  2. Which is the easiest hike in the Adirondacks with the best reward?
    • Heaven Hills is a fun network of easy trails that gives you amazing views without much effort. It’s great for beginners and families, providing views of the High Peak mountain ranges and open fields of wildflowers.
  3. Which is the most difficult hike in the Adirondacks? (Probably Mt. Marcy?)
    • Mount Marcy is probably the most challenging hike on our list and can also be one of the busiest in the summer. The elevation and steepness of the peaks alone make it difficult for new climbers to navigate. 
  4. Which is the tallest hike in the Adirondacks?
    • If you’re looking to gain as much elevation as possible, you’re going to want to make the climb to Mount Marcy. Hikers can experience an elevation gain of 3,536’ on this 16.7-mile hike while standing tall at 5,344’ when making it to the top! 
  5. Which Adirondack hikes have waterfalls?
    • Waterfall lovers can see Indian Falls on the Mount Marcy Trail, Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm, four waterfalls at High Falls Gorge, and the tallest waterfall in the region at T Lake Falls Trail. 

Adirondack Hiking: Planning Your Visit

If you’ve just begun exploring the outdoors – congratulations! And welcome to this beautiful lifestyle of becoming more active in nature. Here are some important things to know:

  • Consider renting a car to combine different hiking trails in one trip while you’re in the Adirondacks.
  • Carry out every single thing you carry in with you. Please do not leave any garbage anywhere. 
  • Consider bringing a bag to pick up any plastic trash you may see.
  • If the garbage bins are overflowing, take the garbage with you and dispose of it elsewhere.
  • Please do not play loud music. Most people are in the outdoors to escape the sounds of society and embrace nature’s tunes.
  • Stay on the trails. Veering off designated trails is not just dangerous; it also damages the terrain and natural ecosystem.
  • Have compassion if you see someone not doing something listed above. A lot of us are new to hiking in the outdoors and didn’t have the privilege of growing up with access to it. So please extend some empathy for others who are still learning.
  • Tick checking 101: – Be mindful of ticks in Upstate New York and check yourselves/your dogs for ticks afterward! Take ticks very seriously as they can transmit incurable Lyme Disease to humans.
  • Do not park illegally, or you may either get a hefty ticket, or your car may be towed.
  • Reconnect and refresh and try to let go of that phone!

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