Tuesday, October 3, 2023

25 Great Adirondack Hikes to See Fall Colors

North Creek, NY— It’s nearing peak fall colors in the Adirondack Park. There are many places to see the leaves as mountainsides and valleys turn bright orange, yellow, and red. Protect the Adirondacks has put together hiking guides to 25 hikes that are easy, moderate, and challenging, but lead to terrific locations to see the fall colors in all corners of the Adirondack Park. These guides include maps, information about hiking conditions, and pictures.

This list includes short, easy hikes of one mile or so, such as Azure Mountain, north of Paul Smith’s, Coney Mountain outside of Tupper Lake, Cook Mountain in Ticonderoga, Balm of Gilead outside of North Creek, the Bloomingdale Bog outside of Saranac Lake, Cobble Lookout in Wilmington, or Black Bear Mountain near Inlet and Old Forge.

Moderate hikes of 2 to 4 miles include Poke-O-Moonshine, Catamount Mountain and Silver Lake Mountain south of Plattsburgh, Haystack Mountain outside of Lake Placid, Owl Head Lookout near Elizabethtown, Goodnow Mountain in Newcomb, Moxham Mountain in Minerva, Hadley Mountain outside of Lake Luzerne, Five Mile Mountain north of Bolton Landing, or Owls Head Mountain in Long Lake.

Longer, more challenging hikes that top five miles round trip leading to great fall color viewing sites include Lyon Mountain north of Plattsburgh, Jay Mountain outside of Keene, St. Regis Mountain outside of Paul Smith’s, Snowy Mountain south of Indian Lake, or Pillsbury Mountain north of Speculator.

All these hikes will reward hikers with wonderful views of the fall colors throughout the Adirondack Park. These hikes include important Leave No Trace educational information about good hiking etiquette and being prepared for all conditions and circumstances.

“These hikes range from just under 1 mile to some that are four or five miles in length. Some of these hikes are well known, others are off the beaten path, but they all lead to great places to view the fall colors in the Adirondack Park,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks,

Northern Adirondacks

Azure Mountain  This is a short, moderate hike north of Paul Smith’s that leads to an open, rocky summit with a historic firetower that provides sweeping views of the northern Adirondacks.

Bald Mountain  Outside of Elizabethtown in Essex County, Bald Mountain is a challenging hike with numerous small lookouts that leads to sweeping views of Giant Mountain and Rocky Peak Ridge.

Bloomingdale Bog  Outside of Saranac Lake, Bloomingdale Bog is an easy and flat trail that runs atop of an abandoned railroad bed through a vast wetland and bog complex with stunning and beautiful views.

Catamount Mountain  Outside of Silver Lake in Clinton County, Catamount Mountain is a very steep and challenging 1.9-mile hike to a large, wide open summit with 360-degree views.

Haystack Mountain (Ray Brook)  Between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, Haystack Mountain is a great 6.6-mile (round trip) hike in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area that leads to an open rocky summit with great views to the north and west.

Lyon Mountain  Just outside of Plattsburgh, Lyon Mountain is a challenging 7-mile hike (round trip) on a newly constructed trail to a spruce-covered mountaintop plateau with a firetower that provides a stunning 360-degree-view that includes the High Peaks and Montreal.

Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain  Just south of Plattsburgh, and north of Willsboro, Poke-O-Moonshine is a classic 4.6-mile hike (round trip) on a trail that gradually gains elevation and leads hikers through varied forests, around beaver meadows, wetlands, and ponds, to a rocky summit with a firetower that provides great panoramic views of the Champlain Valley and northern Adirondacks.

Silver Lake Mountain  In Silver Lake, Clinton County, this is a moderate 1.8-mile (round trip) hike over a steep and rocky trail that leads to a craggy mountaintop with sweeping views of Silver Lake, Taylor Pond, and the mountain and ridges of the northern Adirondacks.

St. Regis Mountain  Outside of Paul Smith’s, this is a 6.8-mile hike (round trip) that winds through dense and beautiful forests and leads to a wide-open summit with a firetower that provides grand, sweeping views.

Central Adirondacks

Balm of Gilead Mountain  Outside of North Creek, in Warren County, Balm of Gilead Mountain is a short 3-mile hike (round trip) that leads to a mountaintop with one of the best views in the central Adirondacks.

View from Baxter Mountain

Baxter Mountain  In Keene, in Essex County, the hike up Baxter Mountain is short and easy and leads to a beautiful summit with a series of lookouts with sweeping views of the High Peaks.
Cobble Lookout  Outside of Wilmington, in Essex County, Cobble Lookout is a short, easy hike that leads to an open rocky cliff area with big views of the surrounding High Peaks and other mountains.

Coney Mountain  Just south of Tupper Lake, in Franklin County, Coney Mountain is a short 2.2-mile hike (round trip) that winds through beautiful forests and reaches a wide-open summit with stunning panoramic views.

Cook Mountain  Just south of Ticonderoga, in Essex County, Cook Mountain is a short, lovely hike, south of Ticonderoga, that yields stunning views of Lake George and Vermont.

Goodnow Mountain  In Newcomb, in Essex County, Goodnow Mountain is an easy hike on an interpretive and educational trail to a small mountain with a firetower that provides a panoramic view.

Jay Mountain  Just outside Keene, in central Essex County, Jay Mountain is a challenging, but highly rewarding, 7-mile hike (round trip) through stunning forests to an open ridgeline trail that provides dozens of great scenic vistas on the way to a rocky summit with sweeping views.

Moxham Mountain  In Minerva, southern Essex County, Moxham Mountain (5-mile hike round trip) is one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks, winding through forests and wetlands and over 11 scenic outcrops and overlooks on the way to a wide open mountain with broad sweeping views.

Owl Head Lookout  Outside of Elizabethtown, in Essex County, Owl Head Lookout provides spectacular views of Giant Mountain, Bald Mountain, and Rocky Peak Ridge, among other mountains.

Owls Head Mountain  Outside of Long Lake, in Hamilton County, Owls Head Mountain is 6.2-mile (round trip) hike through beautiful forests that ascends to a mountaintop summit with a firetower and panoramic view.

Southern Adirondacks

Five Mile Mountain  Between Bolton and Hague, in Warren County, Five Mile Mountain is a moderate 7.2-mile (round trip) hike on a long and beautiful Tongue Mountain ridgeline trail that leads to a mountain summit that overlooks Lake George.

View from Snowy Mountain

Hadley Mountain  North of Hadley and Lake Luzerne, Hadley Mountain is a 3.5-mile hike (round trip) that is steep in sections and leads to open cliffs and a rocky summit, with a firetower that provides a panoramic view of the Great Sacandaga Reservoir and the southern Adirondacks.

Pillsbury Mountain  North of Speculator, in Hamilton County, Pillsbury Mountain is a 6.4 mile (road trip) hike that starts on a dirt road and traverses some of the oldest forest in the public Forest Preserve on the way to an open rocky summit with a firetower that provides grand panoramic views.

Snowy Mountain  Just south of Indian Lake, in Hamilton County, Snowy Mountain is a lovely, but challenging 7.8-mile hike (round trip) alongside beautiful streams and through towering forests to reach a summit with a firetower and sweeping 360-degree views of the central Adirondacks.

Western Adirondacks

Black Bear Mountain  Between Inlet and Old Forge in the western Adirondacks, Black Bear Mountain is a short, easy climb outside of Inlet, with sweeping views of the Fulton Chain of Lakes and the Moose River Plains.

Stillwater Mountain  North of Inlet and Big Moose Station, Stillwater Mountain is off the beaten track, yet this hike is less than 2 miles (round trip) and winds along a wide, well-maintained trail to a firetower with great views of the rolling hills and lakes of the western Adirondacks.

When You Hike Make Sure to Practice “Leave No Trace” to be Prepared and to Protect the Forest Preserve

Please follow “carry in, carry out” rules for all trash and follow other Leave No Trace principles when hiking in the public Forest Preserve and other wild areas. The seven Leave No Trace principles are: 1) Plan ahead and prepare; 2) Stay on hiking trails and camp at designated areas; 3) Dispose of human waste and trash properly; 4) Leave what you find; 5) Minimize campfires; 6) Respect wildlife; 7) Respect other hikers.

Educated hikers do not damage the environment.  Prepared hikers do not need search and rescue unless injured.

About Protect the Adirondacks:
Protect the Adirondacks is an IRS-approved non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park. Our mission is to protect the Adirondack Park’s wild character for current and future generations. PROTECT pursues this mission through a combination of advocacy, grassroots organizing, independent public oversight, research, water quality monitoring, education, and legal action. Protect the Adirondacks was formed in 2009 as the result of a merger between two long-standing environmental conservation groups in the Adirondack Park, the Resident’s Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (est. 1991) and the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (est. 1901).
Protect the Adirondacks is managed by a 21-member Board of Directors of Adirondack leaders with expertise in environmental law, local government, Adirondack environmental and cultural history, state agency management, and small business. Protect the Adirondacks maintains an office in a 100% energy efficient, solar-and wind-powered office in Johnsburg in the central Adirondacks. For more information see www.protectadks.org and @ProtectAdkPark.
Photo at top provided by Peter Bauer. 

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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.

2 Responses

  1. Moose Onthaloose says:

    One correction – Old Military Road is open again between Sled Harbor and the Pillsbury/French Louie trailhead. This makes the round trip hike 3.2 miles RT according to my GPS track a couple weeks ago

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