Travel guide to the Adirondacks

Travel Guide to the Adirondacks

Looking to plan an adventurous getaway in Upstate New York? Here is a travel guide to the Adirondacks; including towns to visit, cozy cabins to stay, outdoor adventures, resturants, mountains to hike, lakes to canoe, gear and so much more, no matter the season.

Travel Guide to the Adirondacks

Looking to plan an adventurous getaway in Upstate New York? Here is a travel guide to the Adirondacks; including towns to visit, cozy cabins, outdoor adventures, restaurants, mountains to hike, lakes to canoe, gear and so much more, no matter the season.

For more adventures check out our other New York Blog Post!

The Adirondacks

The Adirondacks are a popular and picturesque destination in Upstate NY. Spanning over 100 hospitable communities, mountains, endless trails, lakes, and lush valleys. More than six million acres, the Adirondack Mountains are home to the largest protected natural area in the lower 48 of the United States.

Thousands of miles of hiking trails, scenic highways, canoe routes & picturesque villages, and towns! The highest peaks in New York State are in the Adirondack Park, check out our journey hiking the Adirondack 46ers!

Choose your happy, a comfy resort, a cozy cabin, a local campground, or a setting up a tent or a car to sleep in. Maybe cultivating solitude, backpacking some of the most remote trails like the Northville Placid Trail, or a day hike, hiking some amazing mountains, or floating down a river or in a lake! There is something for everyone in the Adirondacks!

Hiking Favorites!

People travel from all over the world to tackle the Adirondack 46 High Peaks! If you’re in for a challenge it’s a great one to be a part of! If you want a beginner hike, there are lots of those too, and if you’re like me and just want to be immersed in nature, well you’re in luck! You can grab more information here on the 46ers!

Beginner Favorites

Hurricane Mountain & Firetower (Keene, NY)

This was my first ever Adirondack Mountain Hike. Best Fire Tower in the area!

A rock summit that provides 360-degree views! 5.6 miles, depending on the route you choose, 1600 feet elevation gain, 3,694-foot summit. Like most parking areas for trails in the Adirondacks, it’s best to get there earlier because of the crowds! There are 3 different routes to take up Hurricane Mountain, its best to check out Alltrails for more information! The day we hiking Hurricane Mountain, it was flooded with Dragon Flies, and was so incredibly beautiful!!

Location: State Route 9N about halfway between Elizabethtown and Keene, NY.
Length (Round Trip – Depending on Route): 5.6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1600 Feet
Dog Friendly: Yes!

Cascade & Porter Mountain (Keene, NY)
Cascade Mountain - Adirondack 46er
Cascade Mountain, January 2017

If you are looking to conquer the 46 Adirondack peak challenge, and don’t have much experience, then Cascade and Porter are your best beginner 46ers. They are still rated as difficult, but great to get a feel for them! Cascade is the 36th High Peak, with Porter being the 38th highest peak, usually, these peaks are hiked together! Cascade standing at 4098’feet, and Porter at 4059′ feet. About a 5.6-mile round trip. A bald summit with 360-degree panoramic views!

Location: Keene, NY;7.6 miles from Lake Placid, NY
Length (Round Trip): 5.6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2286 Feet
Dog Friendly: Yes!

Other Favorites

Snowy Mountain (Indian Lake, NY)

Snowy Mountain is located in Indian Lake, NY, about 20 minutes from Speculator, NY. It is part of the 100 highest peaks in the Adirondacks. Standing 3,899 feet, a steep trail with rugged terrain. Rated as a difficult hike. Snowy Mountain is part of Hamilton Country Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge!

Location: Route 30, Indian Lake NY 12842
Length (Round Trip): 7.1 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,132 Feet
Dog Friendly: Yes!

Snowy Mountain, March 2021
Indian Head (Keene, NY)

Indian Head is a popular destination, especially for Instagram Influencers! An absolutely beautiful hike, especially in the fall! You can do this in combination with Fish Hawks Cliffs (10.4 miles) and/or Rainbow Falls (10.8 miles). Indian Head elevation is 2707 Feet. The picturesque views of the Ausable lakes from Indian Head are amazing!! Parking is at the St Huberts parking area (if this lot is full, you can also try the Roaring Brook Trailhead Parking), which now requires reservations due to the traffic of people wanting to enjoy the outdoors! You’ll walk about 0.5 miles on a paved road, and then about 3 miles on a dirt road before entering the foot trail. Rated as Moderate to Difficult hike.

Location: 24-78 Ausable Rd, St. Huberts Parking Area, Keene Valley
Length (Round Trip): 10 -11 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1978 Feet
Dog Friendly: No

Lover of Mountains
Indian Head, Septemeber 2019
Big Slide Mountatin (Keene Valley, NY)

Big Slide is the 27th highest peak of the 46ers. We hiked Via The Brothers Traill, which is a series of three smaller mountains  Big Slide is one of my favorite 46ers! Standing at 4240′ Feet, Elevation gain of about 2800 Feet, and a 9.4-mile round trip hike! Lots of spots along the trail for great views!

Location: Johns Brook Lane, Garden Trailhead, Keene Valley
Length (Round Trip): 9.4 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,800 Feet
Dog Friendly: Yes!

Noonmark Mountain (Keene, NY)

Noonmark is one of the higher mountains in the Adirondacks and is part of the Adirondack 100-highest peaks, but not a 46er! Elevation of 3,556 feet, and about a 5.5-mile hiking loop.  Moderate to steep terrain with amazing views! The Parking area of this trail also requires reservations now.

Location: 24-78 Ausable Rd, St. Huberts Parking Area, Keene Valley
Length (Round Trip): 5.5 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,306 Feet
Dog Friendly: No

Aspiring 46er - Noonmark Mountain-not a 46er!
Noonmark Mountain, December 2017
Noonmark Mountain, December 2017
Mount Marcy (Keene Valley, NY)

Mount Marcy is the tallest mountain in NY, standing at 5,344 feet! With a 360 degree view, Mount Marcy offers some of the best views in the northeast! Mount Marcy’s summit is home to fragile alpine vegetation, so stay on the rocks and avoid trampling it! Personally, I didn’t think the hike was too challenging, but the length is what gets most people! And the Day we went up we were in the clouds!

Location: Adirondack Loj, Lake Placid; 6.3 miles from Lake Placid
Length (Round Trip): 14.8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 3,166 Feet
Dog Friendly: Yes!

Mount Marcy, June 2018

Less Known Hikes

Hopkins Mountain (Keene Valley, NY)

Standing at 3183 feet, the trailhead to Hopkins Mountain is very lowkey. You can find it on the east side of Route 73 just south of the steel bridge over the Ausable River. You will find a small green sign, “Hopkins and Giant via Mossy Cascade” There is not an actual parking area or trailhead registry, so you just park on the shoulder of the road.  so just pull off the road and park on the shoulder. A bald summit with amazing views! A hidden gem, that is less traveled! Relatively steep and rated as difficult. We went in the wintertime and were the only ones on the mountain.

Location: Off Route 73, Keene Valley
Length (Round Trip): 6.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2120 Feet
Dog Friendly: Yes!

Places to stay in the Adirondacks!

The Pleasant Shack (Lake Pleasant, NY)
The Pleasant Shack, Speculator, NY
The Pleasant Shack, Lake Pleasant, NY

The Pleasant Shack, Lake Pleasant, NY, a cozy tiny house (320 square feet) located in the heart of the Adirondacks, surrounded by wilderness. A great place to reconnect with nature, and to restore your mind! Less than a mile away from the town of Speculator! A great place to unplug and recharge your soul. Just a short walk away from multiple lakes, sandy beaches, and state parks, multiple restaurants, and 2 miles from Oak Mountain Ski Center. Nearby hiking trails and mountains, waterfalls, numerous lakes to fish, canoe, kayak, and swim, and some of the most remote places in the Adirondacks. About a 20 minutes drive from Snowy Mountain as noted above, and if you’d like a beginner hike, Echo Cliff Via Panther Mountain is great, and kid and dog-friendly too!

A great place to get away with family, friends, or even yourself, to reconnect with nature, and to restore your mind!

The Haus on Mirror Lake (Lake Placid, NY)

If having a more luxurious stay, The Haus on Mirror Lake is a beautiful place to stay! Boutique hotel/Apartment styled, with some of the most amazing views in Lake Placid, especially if you stay in a Lake View Complex. Modern Adirondack Design in a historic building, using fair-trade or eco-friendly furnishings. Located in the middle of Main Street Lake Placid, on the shores of Mirror Lake, walking distance to shops and restaurants.

The Haus on Mirror Lake
The Haus on Mirror Lake

We stayed in this when John Proposed to me in January 2017, and it was the perfect place!

Primitive Camping (Anywhere, NY)

Primitive camping, also known as backcountry camping is finding a camp spot that does not involve a maintained campground. There is a lot of Primitive Camping throughout NY, and this is what John and I choose 99 % of the time to save money and to be out in nature. Backcountry or primitive camping is permitted on Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondacks and Catskills as well as State Forest lands outside the Preserve. However primitive camping is prohibited in Unique Areas and Wildlife Management Areas. There are spots all over the Adirondack Region!

Primitive camping is typically free and on a first come first served basis, usually marked as a tent spot with a fire ring!

Specific land in the Forest Preserve may have regulations that differ from these rules and guidelines listed below– so please check before you go!

  • Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of any road, trail, spring, stream, pond or other body of water except at areas designated by a “Camp Here” disk.
  • Groups of 10 or more persons OR stays of more than three days in one place require a permit from the New York State Forest Ranger responsible for the area.
  • Lean-tos are available in many areas on a first come first served basis. Lean-tos cannot be used exclusively and must be shared with other campers.
  • The storage of personal property on State lands is prohibited.
  • Fires should be built in existing fire pits or fireplaces if provided.
  • Do not build fires in areas marked by a “No Fires” disk.
  • Cutting standing trees is prohibited. Use only dead and down wood for fires.
  • Extinguish all fires with water and stir ashes until they are cold to the touch.
Backpacking The Presidential Range
Remember, 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. (Note: There are many bathrooms a long the way with the huts!)
    • 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!
Earth Runners

Things to do – Other Than Hiking

Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides in Adirondacks (Lake Placid, NY)

Want a beautiful experience you’ll never forget? The Lake Placid Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides is an amazing experience, interacting with beautiful creatures through picturesque trails and outstanding views. You can either choose a Hot Cocoa sleigh ride with a group or a “one-horse open sleigh” ride for a more private (or romantic) mountain experience.

This is how my husband proposed to me one cold January day, and it was the most magical experience of my life!

January 6, 2017
Backpacking the Northville-Placid Trail (Northville to Lake Placid, NY)

If backpacking is something you have always wanted to do, or not I highly recommend taking 10-14 days or more to backpack the Northville Placid Trail!

Northville-Placid Trail
Northville Placid Trail Registry, August 2020

The Northville-Placid Trail (NPT), is a 150 mile, lightly trafficked foot trail through the Adirondack Park in Northern New York State. The Adirondack Mountain Club created it in 1922 and 1923 and it is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Adirondacks are filled with pristine pockets of forest tucked away from any sense of civilization. The Northville-Placid Trail passes through the wildest and most remote parts of the Adirondack Park. The forest is constantly changing and the landscapes differ daily. Bogs, swamps, ponds, lakes, rivers, rolling hills, mountains, towns, wild blueberries, and raspberries. The route is pretty moderate with minor climbs, following valleys, rivers, streams, and lakes surrounded by mountains and the often Loons swimming the lakes.

Click these links if you want to check out more information on Planning the Northville Placid Trail or our experience Hiking the Northville Placid Trail.

Hiking the Northville Placid Trail
Day 14 – Completing the Northville Placid Trail, August 2020
Ice-Skating (Lake Placid, NY)

There are many places in the Adirondacks where you can rent and go Ice Skating surrounded by stunning views! We have used Lake Placid Skate Rentals. They rent hockey skates and snowshoes too. Skate around Mirror Lake at Sunset, or Heart Lake! There are many places to rent Skates!

Whiteface Mountain (Wilmington, NY)

Whiteface Mountain is the fifth-highest mountain in New York, and one of the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. 360-degree view of the Adirondacks and on a clear day, catching a glimpse of the Green Mountains of Vermont, the White Mountains of New Hamshire and even Canada, where the skyscrapers of Montreal, 80 miles away! Whiteface Mountain is 4’867 feet, and you can either hike it about 5.0 miles to the top, 10 miles round trip, or you can drive up the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway to the top! A paved road, climbing 2,300 feet in 5 miles.

If you are unable to hike Whiteface Mountain, I suggest taking a drive to the top to experience this beauty!

Whiteface has a lot to offer anyone! Driving the scenic highway, hiking, biking, skiing or snowshoeing, or taking the Gondola ride to the Summit! It does however cost to drive up to the top, so be prepared! There is an observatory/summit museum at the top with a gift shop and food and drinks!

I recommend going on a clear day if you can!

Aspiring 46er
Yoga on Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain, June 2020
Oak Mountain-Skiing or Snowboarding (Speculator, NY)

Oak Mountain is a small ski resort with affordable rates! A great mountain for newbies. They offer rentals and lessons too! About a mile from The Pleasant Shack!

Oak Mountain
January 2021
Visit The Mountaineer (Keene Valley, NY)

The Mountaineer is an outdoor specialty store with all the mountaineering and outdoor equipment you need! If you need anything for hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, winter sports, or even a book or map, I recommend you check out this store! This is always a must-stop for us when heading to the Adirondacks!

Favorite Resturants/Cafes/Coffee Stops

Liquids and Solids at the handlebar (Lake Placid, NY)

One of our favorite restaurants in Lake Placid is Liquids and Solids! They support the local farmers, serving locally produced food. They make the best drinks, and have something for everyone on the menu, including Gluten-Free options, vegetarian and vegan options, and local food options! However, due to covid, I believe they will be closing their doors in the next coming months, which breaks my heart!

Address: 6115 Sentinel Rd, Lake Placid, NY 12946

Adirondack Mountain Coffee Cafe (Keene Valley, NY)

The Adirondack Mountain Coffee Cafe is one of our favorite stops before hiking, or before leaving town on a Sunday! Their Lattes are amazing, and they offer non-dairy milk options too! They have a lot to offer in terms of breakfast and lunch, and also have options for people with dietary restrictions, like Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, and Dairy-Free!

Address: 8 Artos Way, Upper Jay, NY 12987

Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood Brewery & Resturant (Lake Placid, NY)

One of John’s favorite places is The Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood. Their menu consists mostly of steaks, chicken, pasta, and seafood, along with other dishes, not as many options for vegetarians or people with gluten allergies! I recommend making a reservation here!

Address: 2442 Main St, Lake Placid, NY 12946

Big Slide Brewery & Public House (Lake Placid, NY)

The Big Slide Brewery is a really cool atmosphere to chill at! You can join the waitlist online, so you’re not waiting a long time to be seated. They make the best Pizzas, and have vegan and gluten-free options available! They also offer Farm-to-Table options too! They specialize in craft beer, farm-to-table food, and brick oven pizzas! About a mile from downtown Lake Placid.

Address: 5686 Cascade Rd, Lake Placid, NY 12946

Clearly Keene and Lake Placid have a special place in my heart! But other towns I would highly recommend checking out are Speculator, Lake George, Old Forge, Newcomb, Saranac Lake, Saratoga Springs, Blue Mountain Lake, Long Lake, Indian Lake, and Old Forge!

Reccomended Adirondack Hiking Gear

  • Footwear: Earth Runners– If you’re a barefoot enthusist!!
  • Lightweight trail runners: Salomon (Men and Women) is an aggressive and supportive, yet lightweight hiking shoe.
    Hiking Boots: Asolo Women’s Hiking Boots – I have had mine since I started hiking in 2013, and they have held up great!
  • Backpack: Osprey packs (Osprey Atmos Ag 65) that we purchase a couple of years ago from the Mountaineer in Keene Valley, NY. I recommend stopping there, and you can try them on, and see what size fits you best, get professional guidance and support local!
    • Anti-Gravity suspension – to feel like you are carrying less weight than is in your pack
    • Trekking pole attachment
    • Lots of storage compartments
    • Lots of ventilation
    • Comfortable and very fitting!
  • Backpack Rain CoverOsprey UltraLight Raincover
  • Water FilterSawyer Filter, they’re cheap, lightweight, easily portable and you can drink right from them. I recommend purchasing extra pouches.
  • Trekking Poles: We purchased ours at the mountaineer in Keene, NY.
  • Headlamps: We recommend the Black Diamond Headlamp or the Nitecore NU25 360 Lumen Triple Output Lightweight, Rechargeable Headlamp and extra batteries!

Reccomended Hiking Snacks

Epic Bars: High protein meat snacks! You can also go to Barefoot Provisions to order!
Fruit and Nut Hemp Bars: These organic hemp bars are perfect for pre or post-workouts, like hiking! They’re clean, made with quality ingredients, and powerful nutrition with an amazing taste!

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Alyx B

A Certified Yoga Instructor and wellness coach, who studied Environmental Sustainability and Animal Science. Lover of animals and tacos! And passionate about traveling, hiking, yoga, and the environment.

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