Ask a local what the top scenic hikes in the Adirondacks are and responses vary. Here's the objective truth: the best hikes spark deeper connections, stun trekkers into awed silence, and deliver unexpected natural wonders.
How does one begin to find the top scenic hikes in the Adirondacks? Well, that will depend on what you are looking to get out of your hike. Tap into your imagination and picture the scene that sparks your interest. Is it a steep trail to a cloud-splitting summit or a looping mountain trail through lush forest? Do you wish to step back in time and learn the living history of the environment around you? Or maybe you simply envision a quiet afternoon beneath a majestic waterfall. Whatever it is, you are sure to find a scenic hike to meet your expectations in the Adirondacks.
Once you've decided what you wish to experience and see on your hike, use these research tips to find the perfect scenic hike in the Adirondacks:
1. Dig into guide books
2. Study maps
3. Visit Adirondack gear shops to ask experienced staff
Need some direction to get started? Here's a few of our suggested top scenic hikes:
Climb an easy one mile up Mount Arab near Tupper Lake and find not only a fire tower, but also a museum inside a cozy cabin. Enter the museum to learn about the rich history of the area and the many Adirondack fire towers. Take the stairs to the top of the fire tower and lookout over Tupper Lake and the surrounding landscape. This is a great hike for families and adventurers of all skill and experience levels. With so much to see and learn atop this beautiful mountain, it is no wonder why it is considered a top scenic hike in the Adirondacks.
If you have experience hiking and are looking for a new challenge, take a hike up Mount Haystack in the High Peaks Region. At an elevation of 4,960 feet, the summit presents a stunning look at the Great Range. Mount Haystack is the third highest peak in New York State, making it one of the most difficult of the 46 High Peaks. With stretches that feature everything from beautiful wild flowers to steep ascends, this challenging hike is primarily attempted by experienced hikers and members of the Adirondack 46ers. The view from the summit is what makes it worthy of a top scenic hike mention.
Wild flowers and lush forest await hikers on this Southern Adirondack looping trail to the top of Kane Mountain. The trail is rated as easy to moderate, so it is great for families and those wanting to bring their dog along. Though a climb up the fire tower at the top of the mountain is needed to fully appreciate the summit, the view is well worth the effort. The descent includes a quiet, picturesque pond sure to offer opportunities for wildlife viewing.
Head to Newcomb to experience the remote Hanging Spear Falls, which plummets 950 ft. The longer of two trails that can be hiked out to view the falls is six miles, starting out flat and eventually ending in a climb to the falls. Along the trail to Hanging Spear Falls, hikers have the chance to view several unnamed falls, which makes this scenic hike all the more worth it. Hanging Spear Falls is a dramatic coda to a stretch of the Opalescent River, sure to excite any waterfall enthusiast.
Get out and explore the Adirondacks. There is far more than just mountains to be seen. Fair warning: Adirondack vistas stuffed with unknown peaks make tired legs yearn for the next discovery. That's the truest definition of a top scenic hike: they deliver unexpected perspective.
(Header image courtesy of Jake Sporn Photography)