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Top Scenic Hikes

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.

scenic hike

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.

Mount Arab

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.

scenic hike Mount Arab in the fall; image credit to Jake Sporn

Mount Haystack

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.

hiker looking out over the scenic view from Haystack Mountain; image credit to Jordan Craig Media

Whiteface Mountain

For incredible views of the Adirondacks, particularly the Lake Placid and Saranac Lake regions, head to Whiteface Mountain. With the summit at 4,867 feet, the mountain is the fifth highest in the 46 High Peaks. Whiteface Mountain is also easily accessed by car along Veterans’ Memorial Highway—to get all the way to the summit, take the elevator or stone steps trail. Stop by the stone castle at the summit for a bite to eat in the restaurant or to get a souvenir from your journey in the gift shop.

scenic hike Whiteface Mountain; image credit to Kevin Lenhart

Panther Mountain

Enjoy a hike up Panther Mountain in Piseco to experience beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and nearby lakes, such as Piseco Lake and Spy Lake. Just under two miles round trip, Panther Mountain offers an easy to moderate hike with some steep and rocky terrain. Echo Cliff, which is along the mountain, features steep sections and some parts near the edge of the mountain—please use caution when hiking near any cliff.

hiker at top of scenic Panther Mountain

Ampersand Mountain

After a challenging, yet rewarding climb up Ampersand Mountain, near Saranac Lake, take in 360-degree views at the summit at 3,353 feet. Recommended for experienced hikers, the 2.7-mile trail to the summit starts off easy, but becomes steeper after about 1.5 miles. The trail gets steeper at a stone staircase, which is followed as the trail becomes increasingly rocky. You’ll find large rocks along the trail as you reach the summit.

Ampersand Mountain summit

Mount Severance

Bring the whole family for a hike up Mount Severance in Schroon Lake. Find great views of Schroon Lake, Pharaoh Mountain, and Paradox Lake at the summit. With gradual terrain and a few steep sections, the hike is perfect for beginners, and typically doesn’t take longer than an hour to finish.

Mount Severance view

Jay Mountain

For a longer and particularly beautiful hike, head to Jay Mountain. The 8-mile round trip hike offers a rewarding experience for hikers who are looking to spend a few hours outdoors in the mountains. With the summit at 3,600 feet, you’ll experience breathtaking 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains.

woman sitting at top of Jay Mountain

Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain

Discover 360-degree views at the summit of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain in Keeseville. The Adirondack High Peaks, Lake Champlain, and Vermont’s Green Mountains all can be seen from the summit. With a 2,170-foot elevation and a 3.6-mile round trip journey, Poke-O-Moonshine offers hikers a moderate climb. To add to your hike, climb the fire tower at the top of the mountain, which is open on select days of the week during the summer and some weekends in the fall.

hikers hiking Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain

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 perspectives.