Saturday, October 3, 2020

50 Hikes Outside Of The High Peaks To See The Fall Colors

The first weekend in October is one of the biggest hiking weekends in the Adirondacks each year, and often sees peak leaf color at many locations. Many trailhead parking areas will fill up early and the trails in the High Peaks Wilderness will likely see continued unprecedented crowds through the fall. In an effort to lessen the flow of thousands to the High Peaks Wilderness, Protect the Adirondacks has published online trail guides for 50 terrific hikes and destinations throughout the Adirondack Park in areas outside of the busy and over-used High Peaks Wilderness Area. These online trail guides are available now.

The online trail guides includes description of hikes, pictures, and maps. They also include information about the trail length and difficulty as well as education about Leave No Trace hiking etiquette to protect the natural resources of an area as well as the experiences for other hikers. The pictures showcase the stunning beauty of these areas. Guides have been published for trails across 10 counties in the Adirondacks.

Click here for the 50 online trail guides, posted under “Hiking Trails” on Protect the Adirondacks’ website.

These 50 destinations showcase dozens of terrific hikes for people of all ages and abilities to mountains, firetowers, bogs, remote lakes, and waterfalls. These are wonderful places, many off the beaten path, that are far outside the busy High Peaks Wilderness. Getting a parking spot to the hike of your choice is often a crapshoot in the High Peaks. These other places offer high quality Adirondack Park outdoor experiences.

Protect the Adirondacks left off the list a number of hikes in places that have been overwhelmed this summer and are seeing numbers and parking problems that rival the High Peaks. Places like Kane Mountain in Caroga, or a number of the Lake George mountains, like Shelving Rock, Cat Mountain, and Thomas Mountain, or Bald Mountain in Old Forge, were all left off the list because they’re seeing overuse challenges and we did not want to create more problems.

The 50 online trail guides that Protect the Adirondacks has published this fall will be expanded to 100 online guides by the end of the year. These trail guides provide visitors with all the information they need to have a great hike. Trails are organized by county in the northern Adirondacks, central Adirondacks, western Adirondacks, and southern Adirondacks.

Hiking is the easiest outdoor activity for a person to undertake. That’s why it’s so popular. As long as somebody can get to the trailhead, it’s a highly accessible activity. Unlike canoeing or skiing or mountain climbing or mountain biking there is little special equipment or skills that someone needs to have a safe and rewarding hiking experience.

We’re hoping that these online trail guides, which we’ll keep working to update and expand to spotlight more places across the Adirondacks, will help individuals and families to plan out great and safe trips to stunningly beautiful destinations beyond the High Peaks in other places all across the Adirondacks.

Northern Adirondacks

Featured hikes include mountains in the northern Adirondacks, such as Lyon Mountain, Catamount Mountain, Silver Lake Mountain, Debar Mountain, Loon Lake Mountain, St. Regis Mountain, Azure Mountain, Mt. Arab, Floodwood Mountain, Poke-O-Moonshine MountainJay Mountain, Cobble Lookout, McKenzie Mountain, Haystack Mountain (Ray Brook), and Split Rock Mountain (north trails, south trails). In the southern Adirondacks guides were published for Sleeping Beauty Mountain, Five Mile Mountain, Spruce Mountain, and Hadley Mountain.

Central Adirondacks

In the central Adirondacks online guides were created for hikes to Goodman Mountain, Coney Mountain, Goodnow Mountain, Moxham Mountain, Vanderwhacker Mountain, Owls Head Mountain (Long Lake), Mud Pond Mountain on the Cedarlands conservation easement, Severance Mountain, Treadway Mountain, Blue Mountain, Chimney Mountain, Echo Cliffs, Pillsbury Mountain, Sawyer Mountain, Snowy Mountain, Wakely Mountain, Balm of Gilead Mountain, Crane Mountain, Peaked Mountain, Bartonville Mountain (at The Hub bike shop/cafe/tap room), and Pharaoh Mountain.

Other features

In the western Adirondacks, Stillwater Mountain is featured.

Online guides include waterfalls, like Tenant Falls and OK Slip Falls and lakes like Sagamore Lake and Cascade Pond. Featured hikes also include Bloomingdale Bog, Silver Lake Bog, and Ferd’s Bog.

Protect the Adirondacks has completed its initial field work and is working to publish another 50 trail guides by the end of 2020 that showcase an even wider range of hiking opportunities across the Adirondack Park outside of the High Peaks Wilderness. This work was greatly aided by the hard work of summer interns who  hiked, assessed, inventoried and photographed more than two dozen trails each, including Jaylim Aboneeaj of Brown University, Jake Collins, a recent graduate of SUNY Potsdam, Isabel Greene from the University of Minnesota, and Kuno Haimbodi of Brown University.

Picture: View to the north from Vanderwhacker Mountain Firetower.

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Peter Bauer is the Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks. He has been working in various capacities on Adirondack Park environmental issues since the mid-1980s, including stints as the Executive Director of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and FUND for Lake George as well as on the staff of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century. He was the co-founder of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP) in 1998, which has collected long-term water quality data on more than 75 Adirondack lakes and ponds. He has testified before the State Legislature, successfully advocated to pass legislation and budget items, authored numerous articles, op-eds, and reports such as "20% in 2023: An Assessment of the New York State 30 by 30 Act" (2023), "The Adirondack Park and Rural America: Economic and Population Trends 1970-2010" (2019), "The Myth of Quiet, Motor-free Waters in the Adirondack Park" (2013), and "Rutted and Ruined: ATV Damage on the Adirondack Forest Preserve" (2003) and "Growth in the Adirondack Park: Analysis of Rates and Patterns of Development" (2001). He also worked at Adirondack Life Magazine. He served as Chair of the Town of Lake George Zoning Board of Appeals and has served on numerous advisory boards for management of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve. Peter lives in Blue Mountain Lake with his wife, has two grown children out in the world, and enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks, and is a member of the Blue Mountain Lake volunteer fire department.Follow Protect the Adirondacks on Facebook and Threads.


15 Responses

  1. Gary Hartwick says:

    Keep them in the High Peaks. Don’t let them destroy the entire Park! Quit advertising. Charge them a $1,000 plus fees and expenses to impound their cars.

  2. Tony Goodwin says:

    Yes, an argument can be made to just let the hordes trample Cascade, Marcy, Algonquin, etc. while preserving the rest of the park. That said, I like the idea of at least making other options a bit better known so that hikers have a choice. Going down the list, there are still some hikes on the list that I know are already receiving heavy use, for instance: Catamount, St. Regis, Azure, Jay, the Ray Brook Haystack, and Moxham Mt. At none of the above are he cars parked a mile or more away from the trailhead, so that’s a plus for them to still be included.

    So maybe we just might need more trails to attractive lower peaks to further spread out the use. Knob Lock in the Giant Mt. Wilderness Area plus Camels Hump, Niagara, and Nippletop in the southeast corner of the Dix (now High Peaks) Wilderness area are a few that come to mind.

    If there were an “easy” solution to the issue of crowded trails, we probably would have found it by now, so the above are just some suggestions of what we actually are trying to accomplish then how to proceed.

  3. JB says:

    Peter, if you do end up expanding the list like you mentioned consider avoiding remote areas, trails that see very little use, or environmentally important areas near wetlands or water, where wildlife that are especially sensitive to human disturbance congregate. In that regard, the list as is looks decent, but doubling its size while honouring those criteria may be tricky. I know that some people think that diverting people away from popular areas to less popular areas is a good idea, but that is not a good management strategy if the goal is to preserve wild places that can sustain vulnerable wildlife (ask a biologist). The park has seen significant increases in recreational use that the State has actively encouraged, but now I think everyone is beginning to realize that we have swung too far in that direction. As this trend continues to accelerate, we need to be smarter. To truly preserve wilderness that does not have the advantage of being far away from civilization, we need to accept that certain places need to be hotspots of human activity so that others can remain relatively well preserved.

  4. Pete says:

    Snowy and Blue are not ‘overused’? Trailhead parking lots especially Snowy are usually overflowing on weekends.

  5. Steve B. says:

    Maybe advertise trails that are adjacent to towns that could use the tourist business. The local business owners I’m sure, would love the crowds that Lake Placid gets.

  6. Ed says:

    More places overused with garbage and toilet paper blooms …. I’m done with picking up other people’s trash , it’s hopeless.

  7. JohnL says:

    You either want people to visit the Adirondacks or you don’t. We can’t be led to this town or that peak based on what the ‘State’ mandates. You’ve got a club that a lot of people want to be a member of and that leads people to the High Peaks. Deal with it. You can’t have it both ways.

  8. Stephen Daniels says:

    This will be my go-to Adirondack hiking resource for years to come. I appreciate the efforts put into the descriptions and photos for each destination. Great job by all involved in this resource, and it’s free! I can’t wait for the next fifty!

  9. Big Burly says:

    Congrats !! A superbly well prepared resource. Thank you.

  10. Boreas says:

    Numerous 50 Hikes-type books by McMartin and others have been around for decades – but while popular with hikers, the masses typically ignored them. The masses typically don’t prepare much in advance because they are not aware they need to! Putting this type of information online may put a dent in the frustration unprepared people experience when their parking lot is full, but it is only lipstick on a pig. Don’t get me wrong – it is excellent work and an excellent resource – but as far as solving any problems, I don’t believe it will have much effect on relieving hot spots.

    And if I am wrong and the website is very effective, the other issue arises. Is spreading high volumes of people throughout our little-used areas the correct path (no pun intended) ahead? Should these types of websites be presented without proper research into their long-term effects on the lesser-used areas of the Park – those lesser-known areas that may be the ONLY parts of the Park we can potentially preserve as wilderness? Where is the research? Where is the DEC guidance? Where are the Rangers going to come from that need to be added if new regions become popular?

    The responsibility of this “good” crisis falls directly on DEC. This situation has not arisen suddenly, but has been easily tracked by hikers for 30+ years. APA, DEC, and local governments have failed to foresee, study, prepare, and ACT on obvious increases in usage, damage, and loss of character to wilderness areas. Why is Basil Seggos, DEC Commissioner, largely clueless and rudderless? If NYSDEC cannot handle the entirety Park, is there an advantage to turning over the HPW to the federal government for management? I feel the time for band-aids, and knee-jerk reactions are long over. The PEOPLE of NYS need to make some hard decisions, and SOON if we hope to preserve the areas we set aside for preservation 100+ years ago.

  11. Elizabeth Rogers says:

    Might be good to check on conditions on some of these mountains before touting them as good spots–many listed here are overused (Silver Lake Mountain, for example, a short hike with as many as 20 cars parked along the road at one time). I do approve of moving away from the High Peaks but carefully, not assuming that any peak outside of the High Peaks is ripe for the picking.

  12. Good Camp Owner says:

    Peter Bauer trying to direct others behavior as he continues to use the very properties he wants you to avoid. Does anyone really believe he is driving on his dime from Blue Mt Lake to Bartonville to hike? NYS state property is just that, for the people, all the people, all the time!

  13. Kevin Donovan says:

    Not only are these good suggestions for those looking for alternative hikes, many of them are good for those who are looking for shorter hikes. I applaud the effort of providing additional easy-to-access information for people. As a friend of mine would say, “It can’t hurt and it might work!”

  14. a lot of places to choose from. You have pointed out a lot of places to go on hiking. Will be planning a tour soon. thanks for sharing