The Best Winter Adirondack Hikes — Read More!
Winter is nature’s way of meditation. Silence brings us to that inner peace and solitude we sometimes abandon during those livelier months: the landscape covered in a thick layer of white fluffy snow absorbing all sound, other than the crunching of our hiking boots or snowshoes as it meets the ground.
Winter in the Adirondacks is so dreamy: the pristine, snow-covered peaks, the vastness of the frozen lakes, the crystallization of the landscape, the pine trees being weighed down by heavy snow, and the sun as it manifests through the forest.
The awakening of breathing in that crisp, cool air feels good for the soul. Winter hiking is a way to enjoy the quiet beauty of nature. As long as you are properly prepared, the winter months could become your favorite time to adventure.
Best Winter Adirondack Hikes
Though not an Adirondack 46er, Noonmark Mountain stands tall at 3,556 feet. Located in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks, near St. Huberts, the peak offers astounding 360-degree views, with siting of the Great Range (Lower Wolf Jaw, Upper Wolf Jaw, Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback, Basin, Haystack, and Marcy), the Dix Range, Giant Mountain, the Ausable River valley, and the village of Keene. There are multiple routes up Noonmark, from 5 miles – 9 miles, with breathtaking lookouts! Climbs are relatively steep most of the way, but worth the views- and it’s not as popular as the 46ers! It’s one of my personal favorites!
Cascade Mountain + Porter Mountain
If your goal is to hike all 46 high peaks, then Cascade and Porter are a great pair to complete together-and a great pair to begin your journey to climb all Adirondack 46 Peaks! Cascade is to considered an easier, beginner-friendly introduction to the 46 High Peaks, but it can still a challenging! Cascade Mountain is the 36th tallest 46er, standing at 4,098 feet and Porter Mountain is the 38th tallest, standing at 4,059 feet! Both offer incredible vistas of countless Adirondack high peaks, Lake Champlain, and the Green Mountains of Vermont. Combining the two peaks is about a 5.6-mile round trip with 2,286 ft of elevation gain. Cascade is a popular hike in the warmer months, but if you’re down for those colder winter days, you’ll find much more solitude!
Big Slide Mountain
Big Slide Mountain is the 27th tallest Adirondack 46er, standing at 4,240 feet. A favorite route to the summit is the trail via The Brothers, (three smaller mountains that you summit on your way to Big Slide), which is 7.6 miles and 3,126 feet of elevation gain. This route offers many bare rock ledges that uncover stunning views! You will also be climbing ladders too! You’ll be able to see fantastic views of the Great Range on one side and Porter, Cascade, and Whiteface on the other side! Passing through a beautiful birch forest, take note of Old Man’s Beard (AKA Usnea) covering the tree trunks and branches-a long, lacy, greenish lichen. Usnea is one of nature’s most effective medicinals; it’s sensitive to air pollution, so its existence may be a good gauge of air quality in the area. This trail is also known for sightings of Pine Martins!
Hopkins Mountain is an underrated hike located near Keene Valley. With an elevation of 3183 feet and a steady incline, it offers one of the best panoramic views for an average-sized peak. The trail via Mossy Cascade, about a 6.4-mile round-trip, doesn’t seem to be as popular as others, and you may be breaking the trail yourself! Parking is VERY limited, and a little hidden, so maybe that is why the peak isn’t as popular. There is a high probability, that you’ll have this peak to yourself! You can also extend your hike to include Giant Mountain, which is another favorite Adirondack 46er!
Near Indian Lake, Snowy Mountain is out of the high peaks’ region, but it is one of the 100 highest peaks in the Adirondacks. Snowy Mountain is a relatively steep trail, with an elevation of 3,899 feet and an elevation gain of 2,132 feet on the 7.1 round-trip tail. There are stream crossings along the trail which, when frozen during the winter, are easily crossed. The summit is mostly forested, but the fire tower gives you amazing 360-degree views of the high peaks to the northeast, Indian Lake, Lake Pleasant, Sacandaga Lake, Piseco Lake, the Siamese Ponds Wilderness, and the West Canada Lake Wilderness. Being that it is outside of the high peaks’ region, it is typically a quieter trail!
Hiking in the Adirondacks in the Winter Tips:
- Plan & be prepared
- Check the Weather Forecast & Trail Conditions
- Dress Appropriately
- Waterproof/Windproof Outer Wear, heavy down insulating layer
- Insulated Hiking Boots
- Winter Hat
- Warm/Wool Layers (Merino Wool is great for regulating your microclimate and isn’t itchy!)
- Warm Socks
- Extra Layers and a pack to accommodate if you need to shed!
- Goggles or Full Face Mask can be useful!
- Other Gear
- Map & Compass
- Carry Appropriate Food and Water
- Go with a friend or friends or make sure someone knows where you are hiking.
- Snowshoes or skis are required on all trails in the High Peaks Wilderness as snow depths exceed 8in and are advised on all trails throughout the region.
- Traveling in deep snow takes more energy and time – plan accordingly.
- Be aware of winter’s unique dangers
Leave No Trace:
- Pack it in, pack it out.
- Bring a bag for food waste and garbage
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Dig a 6-8-inch cathole, at least 200 ft from water, camp, and trails & bury.
- If you use soap for dishes or bathing, make sure you’re a good distance (at least 200 feet) from the water. (Even Biodegradable soap!) Dig a hole and wash up away from the water with a bucket or water bottle!
- Leave What You Find.
- Plants, rocks, animals.
- Respect Wildlife
- Observe from a distance
- Respect other backpackers!
Looking for More Inspiration?
Check out our experience on the Northville Placid Trail or our Travel Guide to the Adirondacks!
Need a place to stay? Check out The Pleasant Shack!
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