Skip to Content

An Expert’s Guide to 19 of the Absolute Best Hikes in the Adirondacks!

You know what? I am a city girl at heart. But, there is always something so magical about going upstate and embarking on one of the absolute best hikes in the Adirondacks. 

I mean, there is a reason why my dad has a house on Lake Champlain and why I have been exploring this part of New York for well over twenty years. 

That’s also why, umm, hi. I’m probably THE perfect person to give you expert advice and share secret insider tips on no less than 19 of the best day hikes in the Adirondacks. 

Therefore, the only real question that remains is, what are you waiting for? So, grab a handful of trail mix, a super snazzy pair of hiking boots, and your best day pack ever! 

Because we’re about to swan dive into this hella awesome post about all of the most jaw-dropping hikes in the Adirondacks.

An assortment of stunning day hikes in the Adirondacks that are filled with exquisite panoramic views of this stellar mountain region and that are meant for every type of hiker out there – whether you’re a total newb in need of expert hiking tips for women or a hiking pro who is ready to conquer the awesomeness of Mount Marcy. (you can also check out these uber-rad hiking trails on Long Island). 

Dear wonderful, beautiful, and oh-so-amazing reader (Yup, I lay it on thick for my dozens of fans). Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high probability (like 99.999%) that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

Best Hikes in the Adirondacks for Beginner Hikers

1. Cascade Mountain

Panoramic views from Cascade Mountain with the sun peeking through the clouds is one the epic hikes in the Adirondacks.
Panoramic views from Cascade Mountain in the Adirondacks.

Guess what? The now immortal Adirondacks region of New York is home to no less than forty-six different mountains – one of the easiest of which to climb is Cascade Mountain.  

It’s a popular, fairly easy, out-and-back trail that can be accessed along Route 73 in Keene, NY.

It’s also best used between May and October (it gets cold and icy mad quick) and can be done in tandem with a summit of Porter Mountain. 

On the whole, though, this is an exposed path that features a few steep climbs with some fairly easy rock scrambles.

Along the way, you can also marvel at some panoramic views, in addition to passing a nearby river and local waterfall (not one of the best waterfalls in New York but still nice to see). 

So yeah, check it out for a wicked good time. And for a climb that probably won’t leave your thighs burning and low-key screaming, “Please sir or madam, no more.”

That being said though, do NOT expect to have this super snazzy place all to yourself since it’s uber-popular among the hordes of selfie-stick-wielding tourists who like to frequent the area in the summer. 

Local Tip: Because this is an easy climb, it’s popular among locals and tourists alike. So, try and visit either during the week or super early on a weekend morning. 

Where is this Hike: Keene, NY (near Lake Placid)

Distance: 6.5 miles (it should take you about 4.5 hours to complete)

Difficulty Level: Easy

2. Bald Mountain and the Rondaxe Fire Tower

Stunning fall foliage views from the hike up Bald Mountain, one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.
Stunning fall foliage views from the hike up Bald Mountain, one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.

Not gonna lie, I kind of love this popular, 2.0-mile out-and-back trail to Rondaxe Frie Tower at the top of Bald Mountain.

I mean, not only is this trail short and sweet and to the point, but it features large swaths of wildflowers that come to life throughout the spring. You’ll also ascend a mere 500 feet to the 2350 foot summit, making this one of the easier hikes on this list. 

That being said though, the start of the hike seems super easy but then quickly transforms into a tough climb up an eroded path and over the top of a ridge.

As you might have already guessed, this is where you’ll find one of several lovely little viewpoints where can stop for a photo op or twenty. 

After you’ve taken in all the views, continue along the ridge’s narrow trail over bedrock until you come to the Rondaxe Fire Tower on the summit. It’s super cool since it’s been completely refurbished and you can climb to the top for even better panoramas. 

Local Tip: Go early, or on a weekday to avoid crowds, any time between April and November. Also, don’t expect much solitude since this trail is very popular. 

Where is this Hike: Old Forge, NY

Distance: 2.0 miles (It should take you about 1 hour to complete, More if you want to spend some time at the top)

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

3. Chimney Mountain 

The "Chimney Rock" which a tall structure that you'll see at the top of Chimney Mountain, another one of the great hikes in the Adirondacks
The “Chimney Rock” you’ll see at the top of Chimney Mountain.

This popular 2.5 mile out and back trail in the Adirondacks is not known for being challenging but for the super cool rock chimney that awaits you at the top. There are also a ton of fascinating crevasses and caves that you’ll be able to admire from the summit, making this hike 110% worth it. And yes, that is an exact percentage.

Anyway, it’s one of the shorter hikes on this list and begins at The Cabins at Chimney Mountain. So yeah, these are basically just several little cabins that are available for rent near Kings Flow.  

So, follow the trail up, and about halfway through the hike, you’ll see a side trail that branches off to the left. Feel free to follow it and discover some of the hidden caves that proliferate throughout the area. 

The marked route here will then take you over a rocky ridge where you can admire the summit that sits above you. Continue along the ridge until you reach the entrance of Eagle Cave, a network of underground caverns that are marked with spray paint arrows for your navigational pleasure, with a special geocache awaiting you at the end. 

FYI though, the caves here are only open from June 1 through October 14. You know, to protect all of the bats that live here. 

So, after you’ve had your fill of underground cavey goodness, follow the main trail up the mountain, where you’ll find a path to three campsites (and a stellar view) on the right. Just make your way upwards and onwards to enjoy the gnarly rock chimney at the tippity top of this mountain. 

Local Tip: The caves here are only open between June 1 and October 14 so this would be the best time to visit. This is also an uber-popular trail so visit early or stop by during the week. 

Where is this Hike: North River, NY

Distance: 2.5 miles (it should take you around an hour or an hour and a half to complete)

Difficulty Level: Easy

4.Mount Arab 

The solitary wooden cabin at the top of Mount Arab surrounded by lovely fall foliage is another sight that you will see on your hikes in the Adirondacks.
The cabin at the top of Mount Arab surrounded by lovely fall foliage.

This is another one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks that is pretty dang easy and popular to boot. That’s because this easy, 1.9-mile, out-and-back trail features an ultra-rad fire tower at the top that has stellar views of Tupper Lake, Mount Morris, the Adirondack High Peaks, the Raquette River Valey, Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest, Mount Arab Lake, and Eagle Crag Lake.

Now, as you start along the trail, you’ll slowly climb upwards through a local, hardwood forest. Be aware of rocky patches though and make use of wooden stairways to help you ascend the steepest parts of the trail.

Once you’re closer to the top, follow a trail on your right-hand side that will end near an outcrop of bedrock and a nice little log bench. Alternatively, you could also take the trail to the left and visit the observer’s cabin museum and the local fire tower here.

However, the trail you choose doesn’t really matter since both will lead you to the fire tower at the top of the mountain. Whatever you do though, don’t leave without admiring the impressive views from the top of the metal fire tower. 

Local Tip: This hike is great for families but you should 100% go early if you want to avoid crowds. 

Where is this Hike: Tupper Lake, NY

Distance: 1.9 miles (This hike should take you maybe an hour.)

Difficulty Level: Easy

5. Roaring Brook Falls

The rocky cliff and the roaring Brook Falls surrounded by fall foliage is a great view that you will see on your hikes in the Adirondacks.
Roaring Brook Falls surrounded by fall foliage.

Umm, I’m sorry. Who doesn’t love an epic waterfall like this one right here? I know I do. And I think a lot of other people do too since this is one of the most popular hikes in the Adirondacks. 

And that makes sense since not only does beautiful Roaring Brook Falls await you at the end, but this is a short and easy, 1.6 mile out and back trail that only has 456 feet in elevation gain. 

Believe it or not, you can actually see the upper parts of the falls from the road. But, if you want a closer look, just follow the wide and flat, 0.3-mile trail to the base of the falls. 

Once here, bear right and if you’re feeling a wee bit adventurous, you can even scramble up a path along the face of the falls (you won’t be able to do this after heavy rain or in the spring when the flow of the waterfall is at its heaviest). 

Now, to get to the top of the falls, circle back and go left at the intersection. You’ll know you’re going the right way when the trail gets a whole lot steeper. Make your way to the top until you hit a small clearing where the ground levels out and reveals a small campsite and stream. 

And that’s pretty much it. Just admire the views since it’s a short and sweet hike that is perfect for families and novice hikers. 

Local Tip: Stay away from the edge of the falls unless the water level is exceptionally low since the rocks here are really slippery and you could easily fall in.  There’s also a small, waist-deep swimming hole here that is a great place to cool off in the summer. 

Where is this Hike: Keene Vallery, NY

Distance: 1.6 miles (this hike will probably take less than an hour to complete)

Difficulty Level: Easy

6. Labyrinth Trail, High Falls Gorge

Adirondacks Peak Fall Foliage in upstate New York along the Ausable River and High Falls Gorge which is part of one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.
Adirondacks Peak Fall Foliage in upstate New York along the Ausable River and High Falls Gorge.

Just a hoot and holler down the road from Whiteface Mountain is the next-level gorge (get it because there’s a gorge in the park) 22-acre High Falls Gorge Park with its super easy, one-mile long walking trail.

Truth be told though, It’s definitely not my fave of the best hikes in the Adirondacks listed here but it’s awesome for families with small children since it really is THAT easy.

And if a hardcore couch potato like me is saying it then it must be true. FYI, the associated admission fee for using this trail is also pretty high at $13 per person. 

But, purchasing a ticket does give you primo access to the super snazzy High Falls waterfall, as well as three other falls that you’ll see as you take a leisurely stroll through the park. 

I’d also expect to spend around 45-mile minutes here since the trail isn’t all that long and gives you access to several modern bridges with awesome glass platforms.

You’ll also find a ton of informative signs here that detail the unique history of the area. Something that this un-cool history nerd right here really enjoyed. 

***There’s also a one-mile long, beginner/intermediate level nature trail with semi-steep inclines and uneven surfaces that make closed-toe shoes a must. It’s definitely not difficult though since even I managed it without breaking a sweat. *** 

Where is this Hike: Wilmington, NY (near Lake Placid, NY)

Distance: 1.0 miles (round trip, in and back)

Difficulty Level: Easy (This one is perfect for anyone with limited mobility who wants to get out into nature)

Best Hikes in the Adirondacks for Intermediate Hikers

7. Gothics Mountain via Pyramid Peak

Gothics Mountain Cliff and the bird's eye views is why many people love to head out on this hike in the Adirondacks
A view of Gothics Mountain Cliff in the Adirondacks.

This popular loop trail in Keene Valley takes you through this mountainous region, along Route 73, and towards one of the area’s most iconic peaks, Mount Marcy.

So, start off at the Ausable Club and enjoy a relatively flat climb for about 3.5 miles. Then, once you hit the Lower Ausable Lake, take the A.W Weld Trail to a junction at Sawteeth and Pyramid Peak.

Keep right and continue onwards to Pyramid Peak and Gothics. And yes, the trail will get ridiculously steep towards the end of the Weld Trail and when you make your final climb up Pyramid Peak.

.However, if you make it to the top, you will have conquered one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks and can admire stunning panoramas of the natural landscape. 

Also, just as a little FYI, there’s actually a dirt road on the south side of the mountain that allows for easier climbing. It’s also not open to vehicles so don’t think you can just drive on up here. 

So, if you opt for this route, you can access the Beaver Meadows Falls Trail from about halfway up and then just climb to the Gothics summit from there.

You’ll also pass a beautiful waterfall along the way (hence the name of the trail) and can cool off here for a bit on the way down. 

Local Tip: Please note that various hikers have informed me that sections of this trail have been washed out and are extremely difficult to climb. This trail is also best when hiked any time between April and October. And if you’re looking for a slightly easier hike, opt for the road route (it’s much easier) which will take you up the Pyramids and then back down the Gothics since the trail is well-maintained and easy to get down. 

Where is this Hike: Keene Vallery, NY

Distance: 16.4 miles (In total it’ll take around nine hours if you stop at the top)

Difficulty Level: Moderate

8. Panther Mountain

Despite the fact that the Panther mountain is just a mile hike, you will definitely break a sweat. Most people consider this a moderately challenging trek but one that is traversed in less than an hour. Unless of course like me you need to stop and admire everything along the way. 

At 2,236 feet it isn’t the highest mountain in the range but it still has a number of places with gorgeous views. One thing that you should really keep in mind is that Echo cliff has a couple of steep sections and you will find them near the mountain. When you are hiking in the area, it is always better to err on the side of caution.

Getting to the trail is remarkably simple. Follow the Route 3/30 and continue heading towards Saranac Lake. When route splits in two, take route 3 (towards Saranac lake) and head to the trailhead which you will find on the left. You’ll find the parking area is bang next to Panther pond. The start of the trail is close to the parking. Grab some water to rehydrate on the way before you leave your car.

The Panther mountain trail does not ease you in. It starts off with a steep climb. The summit itself will give you a view of the Panther pond and even the Seward range.

Local Tip: Wear appropriate footwear especially if it has been raining in the prior days. The trail gets slushy in places but it is still doable.

Where is this Hike: Catskills, New York

Distance: 0.9 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

9. Mount Marcy

A view of Mount Marcy with the brown green shrubs in the foreground. The highest peak in the regions is on of the hikes in the Adirondacks region of New York.
A view of Mount Marcy, the highest peak in the Adirondacks region of New York.

Easily one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks, and one of the best hikes in all of upstate New York, is the epic climb up Mount Marcy. 

Because guess what? Mount Marcy stands at a towering 5,344 feet tall and is actually the tallest mountain in all of New York.

That’s why this 14-mile round trip trek is an arduous climb that is meant for intermediate and advanced level climbers only since the final mile of the trail mile is super steep and can be pretty dang tricky to traverse. 

So, if you want to challenge your bodacious buns of steel, then take the Hoevenberg Trail to the tippity top since it’s the shortest and easiest way to go.

You can also access this trailhead from the High Peaks Information Center parking lot, near Adirondak Loj. However, if you do decide to park here, just know that you will need to pay $10 to do so. 

Once you’re actually on the trail though, it’s a 7.4-mile climb (one way) that starts off relatively easy and then becomes a moderate to steep climb up varied terrain that offers stunning panoramas of nearby Mount Colden, Avalanche Mountain, and Wright Peak.

So, once you see the remains of an old dam, follow Phelps Brook, eventually crossing the brook, and take the herd path to the top of Indian Falls.

From here, it will be a moderately difficult climb up unitl around the 6.8-mile mark. At this point, the trail becomes pretty tough to climb since you’ll be ascending an open rock face to the top, which culminates in some of the most picturesque views of the Adirondacks.

That’s why, when all is said and done, it will take you about 10 hours to hike this iconic Adirondack trail. 

Local Tip: Bring a headlamp and summit the mountain just in time for sunrise since the sunrise views here are hella awesome. This trail is also super popular so definitely try and visit during the week. Additionally, come prepared with serious hiking equipment and pay close attention to weather forecasts since conditions here can change quickly. 

Where is this Hike: Lake Placid, NY

Distance: 14 miles (It should take around ten hours to complete this hike with a stop at the top)

Difficulty Level: Moderate

10. Big Slide Mountain

The sun setting over Big Slide Mountain  and its yellow, red and green foliage which is a part of another one of the hikes in the Adirondacks.
The sun setting over Big Slide Mountain in the Adirondacks.

Looking for one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks that is a little bit of a challenge? If so then check out this sweet, sweet hike to the top of Big Slide Mountain. 

Seriously, only one or two iron lungs may be needed at the end of this moderately difficult climb. I’m joking though because this hike isn’t supposed to be THAT bad.

And although there are a couple of different routes you can take up Big Slide Mountain, I’d opt for the 9.6-mile loop trail that goes up the mountain via The Brothers (three smaller mountains) and then goes back down through the Johns Brook Valley.

Sure, the trail can be a challenge in sections since there are some open rocks with steep terrain, but the surrounding views of the Great Range, especially from The Brothers, are pretty dang impressive. 

Just hop on the trail from the Garden parking lot, turn right, and walk until you see a trail junction for Porter Mountain. You’ll then cross a brook and the path will get steeper until you reach the first overlook at First Brother. 

Once you’ve had your fill of beyond scenic views (trust me, there are plenty of them throughout this hike), you can continue along the trail and will eventually climb up over some steep rock and onto the summit of First Brother.

Next, you can savor some relatively easy climbs as you reach the summit of Second Brother and then eventually climb to the top of Third Brother.

Whatever you do though, be sure to snap a ton of photos at the summit of Third Brother since you’ll get a sick view of Big Slide Mountain. Yeah, it’s basically the giant shark-fin-like peak that is sitting right in front of you. 

From here, the path will level out before the intense hike to the top of Big Slide. Be sure to turn right at the junction (turning left will take you down Johns Brook) and you’ll notice that the trail will almost immediately get steeper. 

In fact, you’ll need to climb these enormous log staircases which will lead you to the Herd Path on the left. Be sure to admire the stunning views before heading to the summit and snapping a photo or two of the Great Range. 

After that, just head back down the trail and take Johns Brook down the mountain, going left at the four-way junction for the DEC interior outpost. 

All in all just a really fun, super scenic hike through the Adirondack Mountains. 

Local Tip: Parking is VERY limited at the popular Garden parking area (there’s also a small fee to park here), especially during the summer so definitely have a backup plan in place. Or, arrive hella early. Like before sunrise. You could also take a local shuttle bus from Marcy Field to the trailhead throughout the busy summer months. 

Where is this Hike: Keene Valley, NY

Distance: 9.6-mile loop (4 miles to Big Slide’s summit via The Brothers; 5.6 miles via the Johns Brook trail and it will take about 5 hours to complete).

Difficulty Level: Moderate

11. Algonquin Peak

A view of Algonquin Peak from the rocky part of Mount Marcy which is one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.
A view of Algonquin Peak from Mount Marcy.

Known for being the second tallest peak in the great state of New York, the trail up Algonquin Peak is a somewhat difficult hike in the Adirondacks that features stellar views and a ridiculously steep climb at the top that will take you up and over open rock. 

So yeah, don’t let the relatively low-mileage of this hike lull you into a false sense of security. I’d also recommend conquering some slightly smaller peaks before attempting this climb. Because, you know, safety first. 

Anyway, if you do decide to take on this trek, take Route 73 to the ski jumps and make the first right onto Adirondack Loj Road. You’ll find ample parking at the end of this road and will have to pay a small fee to leave your car here. 

From here, follow a popular trail to Marcy Dam and continue stright through the intersection to Algonquin Mountain. Over time, the hike will get steeper as you approach the ever-lovely, MacIntyre Falls.

Once here, continue on and expect to encounter two intense rocky sections before the trail levels out. Next, turn left at a sign warning of changing weather conditions (head this warning as you move above the timberline) and continue straight through an intersection with the Wright Peak trail. 

Like I mentioned earlier, as you approach the summit, the climb will get really steep and be totally open. And once you hit the summit? Welp, continue onwards my friend to Iroquois Mountain since the view from here is pretty dang epic (you can see Whiteface from here). 

And, insert magical jazz hands here because that concludes another one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.

Local Tip: The parking lot here fills up fast in the summer so get here EARLY. And if you want to try a loop trail, you can make your return through Avalanche Pass and to Lake Colden. It’s a rough hike though that will add significant mileage to your climb so be aware of that. 

Where is this Hike: Lake Placid, NY

Distance: 8.6 miles round trip (This one will take between 9 and 11 hours to complete)

Difficulty Level: Moderate

12. Whiteface Mountain

The rocky summit of Whiteface with its tower at the top and the panoramic views of the countryside is one of the uber popular hikes in the Adirondacks.
The summit of Whiteface

As someone who is a total city slicker through and through, I adore this hike up Lake Placid’s ever-famous, Whiteface Mountain.

Umm, not only is this hike infinitely easier than you might expect when climbing up a 5,000-foot tall mountain (you’ll find tons of giant stone steps along the way), but you’ll get wicked awesome views that extend all the way out into Canada and Vermont on a bright and sunny day.

So, gear up for a 10.1 mile long, moderately difficult loop hike that will take you from the Wilmington Trailhead to Marble Mountain to Esther Trail and then finally up the summit of Whiteface.

And, full disclosure? Esther’s trial isn’t exceptionally well-maintained and can get muddy at times. So, be prepared for that. This is also an uber-popular hike so do NOT expect to have the trail all to yourself.

But wait, timeout. What if you’re not into hiking. Like even a little bit. Well, then you’re in luck because you can actually just drive all the way to the top.

Although, if you do this, you will have to pay an admission fee of $20 per person for adults, $16 for kids aged 7 to 19, and nothing at all for kids 6 and under if you drive up.  But it’s definitely worth it for the beyond epic views alone. 

Plus, if you’d like to do a bit of skiing, then definitely visit during the winter and take advantage of the mountain’s ski trails and various facilities that are leftover from when Lake Placid hosted the 1980 winter Olympics. 

***Hey! One more thing! Cascade and Porter Mountain trails are actually really close by and make for a nice 5.6-mile hike. In fact,  you can totally climb both mountains in a single day since it’s only another mile to Porter Mountain after reaching the summit of Cascade. You also may want to hike here for sunrise since all of these mountains are super close to Lake Placid.***

Where is this Hike: Lake Placid, NY 

Distance: 10.1 miles

Difficulty Level: Moderate (It’s not difficult it just takes a long time)

Best Hikes in the Adirondacks for Expert Hikers

13. Mount Colden (via the Avalanche Pass Trail)

A view of the green slops of Mt Colden from Algonquin High Peak which is one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.
A view of Mt Colden from Algonquin High Peak. One of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.

This is one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks that is located just a hop skip and jump away from good old Lake Placid, New York. 

So, if you’re planning an outdoorsy weekend getaway in upstate New York and have a ton of experience hiking, then this loop trail may just be the perfect hike for you. 

Because this is one of those top hikes in the Adirondacks where you don’t actually have to summit to enjoy killer views of your surroundings

I mean, within the first few miles you’ll immediately enjoy some beyond amazing scenic overlooks like the open space where Marcy Dam once stood and that now offers impressive panoramas of the surrounding mountains.  

Continue onwards up the steep trail and you’ll eventually Avalanche Pass – a place where you’ll find a series of up and down ladders and walkways that will take you through the wealth of canyons and gorges that make up this dramatic landscape. 

And if you’re not yet coughing up a lung, then conquer“hitch-up-matildas”, a series of walkways that are affixed to the mountain and that drop you straight into the water.  

Once here, you’ll see beautiful Lake Colden and can then cut back and up to the top of Mount Colden itself – a summit that will give you some of the best views of  MacIntyre Range and Mt. Marcy to the southeast.

Local Tip: This is a popular trail that is best used between June and November. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times. Also, know your limits before starting this trek because it can be VERY difficult.  There are also three different trails that you can use to summit the mountain – the Lake Arnold trail (the easiest of the three and the one I’d use), the trap dyke (do not use this trail unless you know what you’re doing and are an expert hiker since you can REALLY hurt yourself), and the Mt. Colden trail

Where is this Hike: Lake Placid, NY

Distance: 12.8 miles (this hike should take between 10 and 12 hours to complete)

Difficulty Level: REALLY Hard

14. Mount Skylight

The stunning view you'll get of Mount Marcy from the summit of Mount Skylight which makes it one of the really popular hikes in the Adirondacks.
The stunning view you’ll get of Mount Marcy from the summit of Mount Skylight.

Not gonna lie, this is one of those top hikes in the Adirondacks that is really only meant for super fit, expert hikers that are looking for a challenge. 

So, as you might have already surmised, I myself have not done this hike. And I am totally okay with that since this 18.7 mile out and back trail is pretty intense. 

However, if you’re up for it, you can access the trailhead from either the HPIC in Lake Placid or from Upper Works in Newcomb. 

Personally, though, I’d access the trail from Upper Works in Newcomb since the hike is easier and will take you a lot less time to complete. 

So, if you want to do this, just take exit 29 off I-87 and then follow the Blue Ridge Road (CR 84) toward Newcomb until you hit the intersection with Tahawus Road (CR 25). Once here, take a slight left and you will see the sign for High Peaks trails.

After you see the old blast furnace, it’s only about a mile to the trailhead, Just park at the Upper Works parking lot and follow the marked trail to Flowed Lands, eventually hitting the herd path for Mount Marshall.

Thankfully, the trail from here to Lake Colden isn’t really all that challenging and you’ll be able to conquer this part of the hike fairly quickly.

When you get to the lake though, the hike along the Opalescent River gets a bit more intense and will take you past the Uphill Lean-to and to the intersection for Feldspar.

Eventually, you’ll hit the Lake Tear of the Cloud and continue on to Four-Corners, a major junction with the trail for Mount Marcy. (Go left and you’ll head to Mount Marcy). Head right and climb up to Mount Skylight.

Just be prepared though since the final part of the hike will also be the steepest.  

Local Tip: Try and visit any time between April and October. Dogs are also allowed on the trail but must be on a leash. You also may want to divide this hike into two days and camp overnight here since 18.7 miles in one day is pretty intense. 

Where is this Hike: Lake Placid, NY

Distance: 18.7 miles (this hike should take between 10 and 15 hours to complete)

Difficulty Level: REALLY Hard

15. Dix Mountain

Traveling to upstate New York? Then say hello to your new best friend, Dix Mountain. Because this bad boy of a mountain is home to a challenging (read hella hard), 13.2-mile trail that is best traversed between May and November. 

There are also two main entrance points that you can use when planning a hike up this next-level gorgeous mountain – the Round Pond entrance (1 mile past the Chapel Pond parking area where you’ll see a DEC sign) and the Elk Lake entrance (take Blue Ridge Road until you see a sign for, “Elk Lake Lodge”. Turn right and park at the end of the road). 

Now, before you even attempt to climb Dix Mountain, be prepared because this climb is no joke and filled with steep terrain, covers long distances, and features many exposed areas. 

However, some of the sweeping panoramas that you’ll find along the way do feature some of the best views of Vermont’s Green Mountains (and New Hampshire’s famous White Mountains on a clear day) in the entire region. So yeah, Dix Mountain definitely has that going for it.   

Anyway, of the two routes up Dix Mountain, I’d go with the trail at Round Pond since the Elk Lake trail is closed much of the year. If you opt for this trek, you’ll encounter a moderate/steep hike from Route 73 and up onto the shores of, you guessed it, Round Pond. 

From here, you’ll make a semi-steep hike to an intersection, after which the trail levels out until you hit the Bouquet River Lean-to at about 4.2 miles in. The climb will then intensify as you pass by the base of the slides, go back into the woods, and ascend along an eroding path – a hike that doesn’t really mellow out until you’re basically at the summit. 

***If you want to climb the mountain via the Elk Lake trail, you can take the Hunter Pass Trail onto the mountain for a 7.3-mile hike (one-way) or the Hunter Pass Trail to the Beckhorn Trail for a 6.6 mile way hike (one-way). On the whole, though, Hunter’s Pass is not quite as steep and preferred by most hikers.***

Local Tip: Elk Lake (and the Elk Lake route) is typically closed in the winter and during big game season. You also DO NOT want to park on the shoulder of the road since your car WILL be towed. 

Where is this Hike: Keene Valley

Distance: 13.2 miles (this hike should take around 8 hours to complete)

Difficulty Level: Hard

16. Rocky Peak Ridge

The rocks stacked together in front of the panoramic view from the top of Rocky Peak Ridge which is another fun but hard hike in the Adirondacks.
The panoramic view from the top of Rocky Peak Ridge.

Looking to cough up a lung or two during your hike? If so then check out this amazing hike to Rocky Peak Ridge. 

Okay, all kidding aside, this is definitely an intense trek that is really only meant for experienced hikers. 

So, if this sounds like you then this is definitely one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks since you’ll enjoy sick views and a relatively people-free hike (people-free is the way to be) since this trail is a whole lot less crowded than the one to nearby Giant Mountain 

Now, to get to the trailhead, you can leave from Lake Placid and turn left on Route 9. From here, you’ll hit a spaghetti junction and will want to turn left and drive for around 4.5 miles until you hit the trail and a small parking area (you can also hike along a trail that is in New Russia). 

Once on the trail itself though, you’ll follow an exposed ridge up and down along several smaller summits, making for an arduous 4,700 feet in elevation gain. 

Eventually, you’ll come to a nice viewpoint at about a mile and a half in and will then ascend Blueberry Cobbles. Next, take the right path to descend directly to Mason Notch and then ascend Mason Mountain. 

Now, depending on how tired you are, you could then make you way to the top of Bald Peak and then head back down if you’re feeling more-than-a-little pooped since this is a great turnaround spot (trust me, the hike will only get even more intense from here). 

However, if you feel like you can continue on, then you’ll descend to Dickerson Notch and then start a long, steady hike to the top of Rocky Peak, eventually descending to Mary Louise Pond, which comes with a nifty little campsite on the left. 

Finally, cross through some open meadows and make your final push up the only and only, Rocky Peak Ridge, And if you make it? Well, then that’s beyond wicked since this is easily one of the most challenging hikes in the good old Adirondacks. 

Where is this Hike: Keene Valley

Distance: 13.4 miles (around 13 hours)

Difficulty Level: Hard

17. Mount Haystack

Mount Haystack is a 16 miles long out and back trail that is considered challenging under the best of circumstances. During the winters the trail gets even more challenging. Since the trail is challenging, it is recommended that only expert climbers embark on it.  

In fact at 4,960 feet, Mount Haystack is the third tallest peak in New York state and hikers rave about the views that the summit provides. The trail also takes you right into the lap of nature. Despite the difficulty of the trail, you are bound to meet other people on the way. Not all of them would be headed to the summit. The area is also popular among backpackers, cross country skiers and even campers. It is a beautiful place to connect with nature.

Local Tip: I highly recommend taking along bear repellant. In fact between April and November, NYSDEC requires all overnight campers to carry bear resistant canisters should you be in the Eastren HighPeaks Wilderness.

Where is this Hike: High Peaks wilderness, New York

Distance: 15.9 miles

Difficulty: Hard 

18. Allen Mountain

The panoramic view of the green trees at Allen Mountain from Giant Mountain which can be seen when you head on one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.
View at Allen Mountain from Giant Mountain.

This is one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks that is extremely difficult because, well, it’s hella long. So, your best bet with this hike is to come early and bring a headlamp so that you can complete the trek in one day. 

Otherwise, you can access this 9-mile one-way, out and back trail by getting off at exit 29 from I-87 and taking Blue Ridge Road toward Newcomb. Drive for about 18 miles, until you hit Tahawus Road on your right. Turn right and continue down this road, making a left at the junction. You’ll find the trail about 3 miles down the road on your right. 

Now, once you finally do get on the trail itself, you’ll descend for a bit and then cross a bridge over the Hudson River, eventually going through a charming little forest that will open up into Lake Jimmy. 

From here, take a sharp left down a new bypass and walk along a trail that follows old woods paths and even a gravel road in sections. Eventually, you’ll cross a bridge over the Opalescent River, turning right at about five miles in onto an unmarked trail that is locally known as the herd path. 

This is probably the prettiest section of the trail and will really only pick up in elevation once you get to Allen Brook, where you will need to hike up a slide that can get super slippery, 

So yeah, be extra careful you intrepid hiker. Or, you can always just use a path on the side to avoid this entire section.

And then from here, you’ll make a final push to the summit and can even stop at an opening or two along the way to take in the magnificent views. 

Where is this Hike: Newcomb, NY

Distance: 18 miles (This one will take between 9 and 11 hours to complete)

Difficulty Level: Hard

19. The Saranac Six

Vibrant buildings along a river in downtown Saranac Lake is part of one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks.
Vibrant buildings along a river in downtown Saranac Lake.

Real talk? This may be a hella awesome hike that is easily one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks. But, news flash people. I’m not a fervent enough lover of the great outdoors to have actually completed this hike myself.

“Why.” you may be rightfully wondering. Welp, the Saranac Six is basically for super fit, slightly insane lovers of the great outdoors since it requires you to hike up no less than six different peaks n the Saranac Mountain region.

And all in a single season I might add. Because yeah, The Saranac Six is definitely a challenge with a capital “C”.  No pressure though since the mountains you would need to summit include Baker Mountain (2,452 feet), St. Regis (2,874 feet), Scarface (3,054 feet), Ampersand (3,353 feet), Haystack (2,878 feet), and McKenzie (3,822 feet).

But wait, because there’s more. See, if you are totally superhuman and can actually climb all six peaks in one twenty-four-hour period, then you’ll have the privilege of ringing a designated 6er bell in Saranac Lake (Dare to ring this bell without completing all of these hikes and the ominous Kiwassa Curse will befall you. Yup, insert spooky music here).

So, even though these hikes sound exceptional, I’ll take a long hard pass on doing all of them in a single day since, well, my legs would turn to jello, I’d cough up a lung, and basically never come back alive. 

But, if you’re a reincarnation of Indiana Jones and McGyver all rolled into one, then feel free to go for the glory and share your experiences below. Because you’d get mad props from me for doing all of that in a single day. 

Local Tip: Not feeling the Saranac Six? Then try the much easier hike up Baker Mountain. It’s a lovely little hike that will give you exceptional views of the surrounding area.

 Where is this Hike: Saranac Lake, NY

Distance: 31 miles

Difficulty Level: Hard

A Map of the Best Hikes in the Adirondacks


Guess what you hiking enthusiast you? That just about concludes this wicked awesome post about 17 of the best hikes in the Adirondacks!

Now go forth, frolic through the forest, and try not to fall down any rogue wells. 

And if you found this post even a little bit helpful, then definitely pin this now so that you can read it again later. 

Come on, you know you want to!

Tanya Mackenzie

Friday 29th of July 2022

Awesome list, you are motivating me. I did miss seeing Ampersand on this list as the views are spectacular, reminded me of Cascade but I preferred it. 😊


Saturday 7th of January 2023

Good point. Thanks for sharing.

Nurul Sam Aman

Sunday 22nd of August 2021

Thanks so much for sharing your great hiking experience in the ADK! Nice information. With my hiking buddies, we will hike Mt Marcy, Skylight and Ray on one day during labor day wkend. This will be first adventure in the ADK wilderness.


Monday 23rd of August 2021

That's amazing! Have a fantastic time and thanks so much for reading!

Elena Pappalardo

Saturday 20th of February 2021

These hikes all look incredible! I don't even live that far from here...thanks for inspiring me to plan a weekend trip!


Tuesday 23rd of February 2021

My pleasure. I hope you get to hike through the area soon!

galatia savva

Saturday 20th of February 2021

The sheer knowledge shines through in this post - it is evident you have had fun exploring these hikes over the years! Id love to visit, so I'm saving this for future travels to the US!


Tuesday 23rd of February 2021

Good! So glad to hear it and thanks for your kind words. I really appreciate it.


Saturday 20th of February 2021

I have never been hiking in the Adirondacks. I live 2 hours away and when it warms up, I need to get there. Thanks for the suggestions.


Tuesday 23rd of February 2021

Yes! Come visit since you're only 2 hours away! And definitely a bit cold right now.

Comments are closed.