Seasonal Hikes in the Adirondacks

The Adirondack Region of Northern New York offers some of the best year-round hiking experiences in the country. From spring's fresh air and greenery, to fall's spectacular foliage - the Adirondack Mountains provide unlimited outdoor recreation - no matter the season.

Download our FREE Great Walks & Day Hikes Guide for more trail suggestions throughout the Adirondack Region.

Summer Hiking

In summer, hikers travel from around the world to the Adirondacks to experience the pristine natural beauty of the mountains and valleys on more than 2,000 miles of hiking trails. This is the most popular season for hiking in the Adirondacks, and trails can become crowded - especially those in the High Peaks Wilderness area. If planning on hiking a popular route, make sure you arrive early to secure a parking spot.

Some of the best hiking in the Adirondacks can be found off the beaten path. Each of the Adirondack Regions offer a unique hiking experience - and each presents environmental and ecological factors to take into consideration. For example, rattlesnakes are known to inhabit very limited areas in the southern Adirondacks around Lake George, and biting insects can be a concern throughout the region during the summer. Protect yourself by applying bug spray and wearing light colored clothing with long sleeves and pants.

Summer hiking tips:

  • Pack plenty of water for each member of your group
  • Research the trail ahead of time and know how long it should take you to complete
  • Dress for the season as it can be warmer at the trailhead than the summit
  • Wear wool or blended socks and sturdy shoes
  • Whatever you carry in - carry out

The Adirondack Region is also home to more than 3,000 lakes and ponds, and more than 6,000 miles of rivers and streams. Cool off in a mountain pool or lake and relax in the pristine beauty of the Adirondack wilderness.

Adirondack waterfall hikes include:

Fall Hiking

In autumn, the Adirondack fall foliage provides a spectacular backdrop for any hiking experience. Travel along a gold and vermilion path of birch, aspen and maple trees. Bring your camera and capture the stunning juxtaposition of evergreens, blue sky and colorful foliage. Wear warm clothes and a waterproof jacket in case it rains. Be sure to keep a look out for Adirondack wildlife and migratory birds.

Popular fall foliage trails in the Adirondacks include:

  • Mt. Jo
  • Pharaoh Mountain
  • Panther Mountain
  • Cranberry Lake
  • Otter Creek Horse Trails
  • Auger Falls

Winter Hiking

In the Adirondacks, even several feet of snow and freezing temperatures won't discourage avid outdoors enthusiasts. Adirondack hiking trails beckon with adventure even in winter and most trails are open for recreation. Before setting out, check the DEC's website to find out if there are any avalanche or storm warnings.

The Adirondack Loj just outside of Lake Placid is open for winter camping in the Adirondacks. Winter hiking and camping can be strenuous, so it is important that participants understand the symptoms and signs of frostbite and hypothermia, as well as plan their routes and overnight sites carefully.

Winter Hiking Routes:

  • Whiteface Mountain
  • Scarface Mountain
  • Giant Mountain
  • Pitchoff Mountain
  • Cascade Mountain
  • Haystack Mountain
  • Ampersand Mountain

What to wear:

  • Base layer that is made of a wool blend, polypropylene or polyester
  • Wool or synthetic fleece shirt fleece or wool jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • Waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Winter hat with ear protection
  • Balaclava / facemask
  • Mittens / gloves (preferably waterproof)
  • Moisture wicking socks and dry spares
  • Winter boots
  • Gaiters to keep snow out of your boots

Don't forget to bring:

  • Fire starting supplies
  • Heat blankets
  • Extra food and water

Spring Hiking

Special regulations apply to higher elevation hiking trails, especially those in the High Peaks Wilderness area. As warmer temperatures melt months of accumulated snow and ice, trails can become soft and slick - so extra precaution is needed when planning an early spring hiking expedition. Avoid trails with soft snow cover to limit environmental damage and "post-holing," which can lead to leg and ankle injuries.

In case of emergencies, the New York State DEC Forest Rangers' number for District 5, which includes five Adirondack counties: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and Warren, is (518) 897-1200. Lewis and St, Lawrence counties are located in District 6 and the emergency number is (315) 785-2239.

In the spring, temperatures and conditions can change suddenly, so be prepared for extreme weather, including snow storms, thunderstorms, rain and wind. The National Weather Service in Burlington offers a special weather forecast for elevations over 3,000 feet.

Suggested special equipment for spring hiking in the Adirondacks:

  • Snowshoes
  • Crampons or Yak Traks
  • Trekking Poles
  • Warm clothes (even if the weather is fair)
  • Comfortable, sturdy shoes or hiking boots
  • Water
  • Wool or blend socks
  • Extra food
  • Compass / maps for back-country treks
  • Knife / multipurpose tool
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Waterproof matches or a lighter

Please note that in several areas of the eastern Adirondack Mountains, damage from Tropical Storm Irene may have resulted in trail erosion. Take extra care to follow the posted trail signs so you don't lose the trail and become lost.

 

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