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If you do not have a car, I highly recommend exploring North Woods, right in our backyard. You can walk, run, hike or cross-country ski here.
Things to note about hiking in this area: Black fly season starts when summer hiking season starts, from around mid-may to early July. The first snowfall in the high peaks area is usually in early October. Snowshoes are required in areas where there is at least 8 inches of snow. Mud season is usually late March-late May, and it's best to avoid hiking above 2500 feet at this time to protect the trails.
- State parks: Moreau, Thatcher, Saratoga Spa
- Saratoga county trails: Wilton Wildlife Preserve is 7 miles from Skidmore. Click here for a list of nature trails, and wildlife preserves in the area. These trails are great for walking, trail running and XC skiing in this area, some of them are maintained by Saratoga Plan.
- Schenectady county trails: Schenectady county has a lot of lovely parks - I have been to Plotterkill, Sander's Preserve, Indian Meadows and Central Park. I found many others listed here.
- Albany county trails: Albany too has a lot of parks, Thatcher is unfortunately the only one I have been to but I hope to find more. Here is a list of others.
- Warren county trails: Warren county on the north of Saratoga also has a lot of trails - this is where the Adirondack park starts. Here is a list of parks in Warren county.
Check out the DEC website for a lot of helpful information about the Adirondacks and Catskills. I highly recommend buying and carrying paper trail maps of the area when you go hiking, but location-based apps for hiking such as Gaia and AllTrails are also very helpful! If you have questions when planning a hike, feel free to send me an email.
Lake George area
If you want to try some challenging and less popular hikes in Lake George area,
- Pilot knob (~2 miles, ~600 ft): Gazebo at the top to watch the sunset!
- Pinnacle (~2 miles, ~500 ft): moderate hike with great views and perfect for sunrise!
- Prospect (~3 miles, ~1500 ft): 360 degree views. Trail goes over I-87! Has a road to drive up, which closes mid November, after which road is open to skiing
- Crane mountain (~3 miles, ~1300 ft): challenging hike with some scrambling. Has a really tall ladder towards the top, so not fit for dogs.
- Sleeping beauty (~5 miles, ~1300 ft elevation): great views of Lake George! Road to parking lot is closed in winter, which adds another 2-3 miles.
- Hadley mountain (~3 miles, ~1500 ft): another great hike for sunset
- Buck (~6 miles, ~2000 ft): moderate hike, perfect for watching sunset!
- Cat and Thomas (~7 miles ~1600 ft, Thomas alone is around ~3 miles, ~700 ft): Both have really good views of the lake. Cat has better views than Thomas.
- Black (~2.5) -- Some good views of Lake George and the high peaks.
- Erebus (~9 miles, ~1800 ft): This trail has no views but has a lot of beautiful ponds along the way. Can be combined with Sleeping Beauty or Black
- Tongue mountain range (Northern part is ~11 miles, ~3000 ft and southern part of the range is ~15 miles, ~3000 ft) -- be wary of rattlesnakes when temperatures go above 50F! The northern part of the hike has some views of the lake, of Lake George mountains and the high peaks in late fall/winter/early spring, but the southern part, especially Fifth and Five Mile has great views of Lake George.
Lake Placid area
The 46 4000 footers called the ADK high peaks
This is a fantastic challenge, but its getting harder to find parking nowadays, so it might soon go to a permit system. One of the trailheads to get to these peaks (AMR) is already moving to a permit parking system from May 2021. If you plan to do any of these peaks or the challenge itself, I recommend refering to the Off on Adventure blog or the ratings on the Adirondacks High peaks website or this blog. If you do not plan to do the entire challenge, here are a list of my recommended peaks to do out of the 46 - ratings, including mine below and the ones I recommend above, are highly subjective.
- Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs (~10 miles): This is the photo I have in my office, overlooking the Ausable Lake. Mostly walking on the road, only 750ft up from lake road. AMR trailhead started a permit system from May 2021 and no dogs at AMR property.
- Owl's Head Lookout (~1 mile, ~475 ft): The one by Keene, spectacular views.
- Mt Jo (~2 miles, ~700 ft): A nice short hike up in the high peaks region, starting at the ADK Loj
- Noonmark (~6 miles, ~2300 ft): Challenging but fantastic views of the high peaks. AMR trailhead started a permit system from May 2021 and no dogs at AMR property. Round pond trailhead is less busy and dogs ok.
- Hurricane mountain (~6 miles, ~1500 ft): great views of both high peaks and Vermont, fire tower at the top.
- Round mountain (~4 miles, ~1900 ft): Moderate hike with great views of the high peaks. AMR trailhead started a permit system from May 2021 and no dogs at AMR property
- Blueberry (~5 miles, ~1900 ft): Blueberry is another moderate hike with really good views of the high peaks.
- Hopkins (~6 miles, ~2000 ft): Amazing views, mostly of Giant, start from Roostercomb parking lot.
- Snow mountain (~4 miles, ~1200): pretty waterfall on the way, easy at the start but some scrambling towards the top
- Roostercomb (~5 miles, ~1800 ft): can be done with the Snow Mountain. Better views than Snow but tougher with some scrambles and a ladder near the top. A little busier than Snow. I haven't hiked this yet.
- Jay mountain (~6 miles to the viewpoint, ~2400 ft): Lovely ridge hike, with some spectacular views of Lake Champlain.
- Mt. Van Hoevenberg (~4 miles, ~900 ft): moderate difficulty with a few lookouts with beautiful mountain views in Lake Placid. I haven't hiked this yet.
- Bald Peak (7 miles, ~2800 ft): Challenging with quite a few scrambles, but not quite as tough as Noonmark. Excellent views at top and along the way, on par with Hurricane Mtn. Windy at the top. I haven't hiked this yet.
- Whiteface: Whiteface has spectacular 360 views, and is not too difficult a hike except at the start and the end. I have been lucky to have gotten views every time I was up there! There is a road to the top that you can drive or ski up if you do not want to hike up.
- Colden: one of my favorite hikes in the high peaks, especially if you take the route via Avalanche Lake.
- Cascade and Porter: Least challenging of the high peaks, spectacular 360 views for sunset and sunrise on Cascade. Porter is still worth doing even if you do not want to be a 46er. Possible to get to Porter from Blueberry also, less busy trail. I would avoid this hike, if you don't like seeing crowds on hikes, because this hike is always crowded!
- Big Slide: similar to Cascade in terms of challenge, a ladder close to the top, and fantastic views along the Brothers
- Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge: Giant alone might be better if you are not comfortable with scrambling. The section between Giant and Rocky Peak is very steep and requires a lot of scrambling.
- Wright, Algonquin and Iroquois: Wright alone is my favorite hike because it's a relatively easy hike for the views and it's so much quieter than Algonquin. There is also a memorial for a Cold War era plane crash at the top. Algonquin is the second highest peak, but surprising only has one or two tricky spots. Iroquois isn't too challenging to get to from Algonquin especially if it is a dry summer day.
- The Great Range: consists of a lot of mountains that are very challenging but have spectacular views -- sort of similar to the Presidential or Pemigewasset traverse in the White mountains. Some of them have great views, especially Gothics and Colvin, and can be good day hikes. Marcy, the tallest peak in NY, is long but not as difficult as some of the other tall peaks. Out of the Great Range hikes, Haystack is my favorite high peak, because it is far and very quiet and it reminded me of hiking in the White mountains!
- Moxham Mountain (~5 miles, ~1300 ft): great views of Gore mountain.
Saranac Lake area
I haven't done any hiking here, except in the Seward range, but hoping to do some hiking this summer.
- Baxter (~2 miles, 787 ft):
I have never done this but supposed to be a nice gentle trail
- Ampersand (~5 miles, ~1700 ft): challenging hike that I have never done, but hope to.
Hikes I have done or plan to do
- Giant's ledge and Panther mountain (~7 miles, ~2000ft): has some good views of the Slide mountain wilderness
- Hunter (~5 miles, ~2200 ft): tallest mountain in the Catskills, has a fire tower at the top
- Blackhead and Black Dome (~6 miles, ~2200 ft): some of the most spectacular views in the Catskills.
- Slide (~6 miles, ~1800 ft): 2nd tallest mountain in the catskills, but I haven't done this yet.
- Windham High peak (~6 miles, ~1500 ft): I haven't done this yet, but I have been told it is a great hike!
- Greylock (tallest mountain in MA, and site of American Hogwarts!): Several trails up, but the one with Stony Ledge is the prettiest. I have never gotten a view here yet!
- Monument mountain (~3 miles, ~950ft): not rocky except at the top. Beautiful views.
- Coles Woods in Glens Falls, NY is groomed and free, and Inside Edge offers ski rentals.
- Lapland Lake (Benton, NY), Van Hoevenberg and Cascade Inn (Lake Placid, NY) all rent skis and have day and season passes.
- All of the parks in Saratoga area are great for backcountry skiing.
- You could ski on the road to the Santanoni camp in the Minerva area, up to Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, and Prospect in Lake George area.
- Jackrabbit trail in Lake Placid is awesome but challenging in places for backcountry skiing.
- In VT, we have tried Prospect, Wild Wings and Viking, which also all offer day passes and rentals.