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Fall Hikes in the Adirondack Mountains

Dusk arrives early. Cool air demands extra layers. These signals hint that autumn stands in the wings. Slowly, scarlet and bronze flecks appear on lower slopes—and then fall sets mountains aflame. Emerald leaves turn candy red and soft plum, and fall hiking in the Adirondacks takes off.

Don't miss out—in the Adirondacks, the most brilliant season always exits too soon.

man looking out over the fall foliage during an Adirondack fall hike

Best Fall Hikes in the Adirondacks

Find inspiration and your next fall hiking trail and prepare for an autumn adventure in New York's Adirondacks!

Oak Rim Trail

Oak Rim Trail in the Tug Hill State Forest is an ambling 2.2 miles trail running along the edge of Inman Gulf. The reward is a spectacular view of Rainbow Falls, a cascading waterfall framed by white ash, black cherry, and beech trees, making for a colorful autumn setting.

Six-Mile Creek Trail

Six-Mile Creek Trail, part of the "Cranberry Lake 50," a hiking challenge that connects 50 miles of trails in the Five Ponds Wilderness, offers a moderate hike, passing around Olmstead Pond Loop and Cowhorn Pond to end at Cowhorn Junction. Keep an eye out for vibrant orange and red sugar maple trees!

Plattsburgh Heritage Trail

The Plattsburgh Heritage Trail offers a trifecta of hiking highlights: historic sites, fall foliage against Lake Champlain, and a route that travels right through downtown, offering easy access to great restaurants and pubs in case you get thirsty. Whip around City Hall, check out the Kent Delord House and snap a few photos at the Champlain Monument with its majestic backdrop before heading to Trinity Park for a picnic.

High Falls

High Falls on the Chateauguay River is one of the Adirondacks' hidden gems. Located off of Route 11, the falls cascade for over 120 feet down a deep gorge cut into the river before leveling out in a shallow rocky riverbed.

Mount Severance

Mount Severance off of Route 9 in Schroon Lake is short but sweet with a great view from the summit. At 2.4 miles roundtrip, this moderate climb offers views of Schroon Lake, the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, and mountains draped in colorful fall foliage.

Cat & Thomas Mountain

Cat and Thomas Mountain in Bolton Landing offers trails that combine old logging roads and forested trails. Take the Orange Trail and wind 716 feet to the summit, offering 360-degree views from a rock summit of the lake below.

Castle Rock

Castle Rock in Blue Mountain Lake is a popular hike in the summer, but fall is when the view comes alive. At three miles roundtrip, this moderate hike offers views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

More popular Fall Foliage Trails

  • Mt. Jo
  • Pharaoh Mountain
  • Panther Mountain
  • Cranberry Lake
  • Otter Creek Horse Trails
  • Auger Falls
fall foliage that can be seen during while fall hiking in the Adirondacks

Fall Hiking Tips

Bring your camera and capture the stunning combination of evergreens, blue sky, and colorful foliage. Wear warm clothes and a waterproof jacket. Rain in the forecast? Even better. Overcast skies showcase autumn hues best. Be sure to keep a lookout for Adirondack animals and migratory birds.

Fall Foliage Natural Process

The seasonal shift halts food production in trees and prompts chlorophyll to break down. Without this chemical, which converts sunlight into energy and gives leaves their green tint, other pigments determine color. Sugar maples turn blaze orange. Oaks fade to brown. Aspens shine gold.

The natural process transforms forests into vibrant color shows. In autumn, the Adirondack fall foliage provides a spectacular backdrop for any hiking experience. Hikers dive in, bound for summits that showcase the brilliant landscape. Linger atop 2,556-foot Pharaoh Mountain in the eastern Adirondacks for 360-degree views. But every level path through hardwood forest becomes a psychedelic tunnel. In the northwestern Adirondacks, 33 miles of trail surround Cranberry Lake and immerse hikers in a wild color riot.

Sugar Maple trees fall foliage