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Hiking Trails Outside the High Peaks Area

photo of Adirondacks in autumn

The Eastern High Peaks Wilderness is the most heavily used backcountry area in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. There is significant congestion and few opportunities for solitude. Trailhead parking lots and interior campsites reach capacity on many weekends throughout the hiking season, often by early Friday evenings.

The large number of visitors has resulted in trail erosion and damage to vegetation in heavily used areas, many nearby areas continue to see relatively light use, less trail damage and improved opportunities for solitude.

The following hikes offer excellent opportunities for hikers preferring to seek alternates to many of the high use trails in the High Peaks Wilderness.

Baker Mountain

Moody Pond Road, Village of Saranac Lake: 0.9 mile one-way. This trail offers outstanding views of the Saranac Lakes, the High Peaks and McKenzie Mountain Range.

Baxter Mountain

Located 2.0 miles east of intersection of NYS Routes 73 and 9N at the top of the hill. The trail is south of Route 9N, 60 feet east of the intersection with Hurricane Road. Distance is 1.0 mile one-way. It offers good views of Dix, Giant and High Peaks Wilderness Areas.

Cooperkiln Pond

From NYS Route 86 in Wilmington, go 2.8 miles up Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway to the junction with Franklin Falls Road, on the right, thence 0.7 mile on Franklin Falls Road to the trailhead on the right. Cooperkiln Pond is 2.7 miles one-way from the trailhead.

Floodwood Mountain

NYS Route 30, between Fish Creek Ponds and Saranac Inn. Follow the Floodwood-Derrick Road 7.4 miles and turn left onto Floodwood Boy Scout Reservation Road and continue 0.2 mile to the parking area. The trail is 1.7 miles one-way to the summit. The trail offers good autumn views of the High Peaks, the Saranac Lakes, and Tupper Lake.

Giant Mountain

Access from NYS Route 9N; the trail is located 4.5 miles west of Elizabethtown, on the south side of the highway. This is a nice, easy-to-moderate 2.6 mile one-way hike to Owl's Head overlook. Giant Mountain summit is an additional hike of 4.8 miles from the overlook. The total trip from the trailhead is 7.4 miles.

Access from NYS Route 9, referred to as the East Trail to Rocky Peak Ridge and Giant Summit. The trail starts at a parking lot 4.9 miles north of the junction with Route 73. This is a rugged 8.0 mile one-way trip to Giant summit, but it has three great intermediate points: Blueberry Cobbles, at 2.0 miles; Bald Peak, at 3.9 miles and Rocky Peak Ridge at 6.7 miles.

Hammond Pond

A single trailhead provides access to Berrymill Flow-Moose Mountain Pond, Hammond Pond, Challis Pond and Bass Lake. From I-87, Exit 29 (North Hudson), follow NYS Route 9 north to County Road 44 (Moriah-North Hudson Road), thence east 2.9 miles to the trailhead located on the right. One-way distances, depending on location, vary from 0.6 mile to 3.5 miles, on easy to moderate grades.

Hayes Brook

Located 3.7 miles Northwest of Paul Smiths College, on the right side of NYS Route 30. Easy access, adjacent to Mountain Pond. A mix of old roads and trails, this is a good area for mountain bikes.

Haystack and McKenzie Mountains

NYS Route 86, between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, 1.4 miles west of the junction with Old Military Road. One-way distances from the trailhead are McKenzie Mountain - 5.3 miles and Haystack - 3.3 miles.

Lester Flow and Cheney Pond

The trailhead is located 13.2 miles west of I-87, Exit 29 (North Hudson-Newcomb), on County Road 2 (Blue Ridge Road), south of the highway on the left. This is an easy one-way hike to Cheney Pond at 0.5 mile and an additional 2.1 miles to Lester Flow, a former impoundment on the Boreas River. There are good views of the High Peaks to the north.

Poke-O-Moonshine

Located on NYS Route 9, 9.3 miles north of I-87, Exit 32 (Lewis). A public campground is located at the base of the mountain. This is a 1.2 miles one-way hike on moderate to steep terrain to the fire tower.

Porter Mountain - long trail

NYS Route 73, 2.0 miles north of Keene Valley, left of the highway opposite the Town of Keene highway garage, before the airport. There is ample parking for this 2.4 mile one-way trail to Blueberry Mountain, which continues on an additional 2.1 miles to the 4,059-foot summit of Porter. The trail continues over to the summit of Cascade Mountain. (Yes, we know this is in the High Peaks, but this trail can sustain more use!)

Scarface Mountain

NYS Route 86 in Ray Brook, between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. In Ray Brook itself, the trailhead is 0.1 mile from Route 86 on the Old Ray Brook Road, a left turn beyond the convenience store. This is a moderate 3.3 mile one-way hike offering good views of the Saranac Lakes.

Treadway Mountain

Accessible from I-87, Exit 28 (Paradox and Ticonderoga). Follow NYS Route 74 east to Chilson, thence right onto County Route 39 (Putts Pond Road) to the public campground at the end of the road. The hike is 3.9 miles one-way from the campground to the summit.

Whiteface Mountain

From Wilmington, follow the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway 0.6 mile from its junction with NYS Route 86. The DEC trailhead sign on the left leads to the parking area. This is a steep climb os 5.2 miles one-way to the 4,867 foot summit.

Additional Resources

  • Guide to Adirondack Trails series from the Adirondack Mountain Club (RR 3, Box 3055, Lake George, NY 12845) and
  • The Discover the Adirondacks series from Back Country Publications (Box 175, Woodstock, VT 05091).

These books are available at local book, hiking and sporting goods stores, as well as in selected stores in the northeast.