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Take a ‘Peak’: A Quick Glimpse of Five Great Adirondack Hikes

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Tackling the Great Outdoors

Five Great Adirondack Hikes

Snowy Mountain. Photo by Jessica VeneziaThere are many ways to experience the Adirondacks, but in my opinion hiking is one of the best. For one thing, it’s very inexpensive—most of the time it’s free. For another, from accomplished “46ers” to novices breaking in their boots, everyone can find a hike they are capable of in the Adirondacks. And, best of all, there’s the end result of hiking: reaching the summit. No matter the size, there’s nothing quite like scaling a mountain and standing at the apex. It gives you an entirely new perspective of the world around you.

It’s not hard to find a trail to hike in the Adirondacks—there are hundreds to choose from and if you wander long enough, you’ll probably come across one without even trying. What is somewhat difficult is choosing which of these trails to explore. Here are some suggestions to get your adventure started.

1. Goodnow Mountain

Located in Newcomb, NY, Goodnow Mountain is a great family hike that is kid friendly—I hiked it for the first time with my parents and two younger sisters when I was 12. The hike ascends about 1,000 feet and is slightly under 4 miles round-trip, so it’s very manageable to do in an afternoon. The view from the top of the mountain is great, but climb the fire tower at the summit and it only gets better. You can see for miles, and many of the high peaks are visible.

2.  Sawyer Mountain

If you’re new to hiking or your time is a bit limited, check out Sawyer Mountain. Located southeast of Blue Mountain Lake, this hike is about 2 miles round-trip and ascends 630 feet. Though the summit of the trail is tree-covered, a bit further on you’ll find a rock ledge with a terrific view. The trail is family friendly, accessible to both kids and dogs; in fact, it was my dog’s first hike! A great option for beginning hikers, both human and canine, this hike can easily be completed in just a few hours.

3.  Buck Mountain

Along the shore of Lake George, Buck Mountain is a moderately challenging yet satisfying climb. Ascending approximately 2,000 feet over 3.3 miles, you’ll find an amazing panoramic view overlooking Lake George at the rocky summit. Portions of the trail are quite steep, and there are a few areas where you’ll have to clamber up using your hands for balance, but it’s all worth it when you reach the top! Be sure to explore some of the trickling waterfalls along the trail as you venture along.

4.  Porter and Cascade Mountains

The Author on Cascade Mountain. Photo by Jessica VeneziaIf hiking the 46 high peaks is a goal of yours, this popular hike near Lake Placid is a great place to start. You’ll tackle two high peaks in one trek! Set aside most of your day to accomplish this climb, which is relatively steep and about 6.5 miles round-trip. The trail begins along Route 73 and splits around 2 miles in; you choose which peak to scale first. I suggest hiking Porter first. Its summit, which is approximately .7 miles from where the trail splits, is perfect for picnicking before taking on the slightly taller Cascade. And, while the view from Porter is amazing, the unobstructed panoramic view from Cascade’s rocky summit (which, though higher in elevation is only .3 miles from the trail’s fork) is perhaps even better, especially in the fall when the changing leaves make the view even more breathtaking. The boulders atop Cascade’s bald summit are fun to explore before heading back down the mountain. This is one of my favorite hikes!

5.  Snowy Mountain

Just short of high-peak status, Snowy Mountain is a challenging climb located near Indian Lake.  Be prepared for an adventure as you head up the trail, which is just under 4 miles one way. There are various streams to cross, rocky passages to climb, and muddy sections to traipse through. After a final steep ascent, you’ll come to a rocky area with a great view that seems like the summit, but don’t stop there. Slightly further on is the actual summit, a wooded area surrounding an old fire tower. Climb the tower for another unforgettable 360-degree view. Tiring yet exhilarating, this hike is a great way to spend a day!

So pack a backpack, grab some hiking buddies, and head out on an Adirondack adventure the next chance you get. There’s plenty to explore out there. Happy hiking!

Jessica Venezia is a Contributor to The Free George. Photos by Jessica Venezia

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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