Five-Star Trails Adirondacks  by Tim Starmer

Five-Star Trails Adirondacks Guide Book

by Tim Starmer (Menasha Ridge Press)
Five-Star Trails Adirondacks  by Tim Starmer
Rugged mountains, pristine lakes, endless forests, and thousands of miles of wild rivers—an infinite number of outdoor adventures await within the boundaries of Adirondack Park, encompassing 9,375 miles. With the expert guidance of local author Tim Starmer, you won’t miss the Adirondacks’ hidden hiking treasures. Starmer details everything from easy strolls in the deep woods to panoramic views atop mountains.

© 2017 Tim Starmer/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Five-Star Trails Adirondacks" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 46.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 46.

At 5,115 feet, Algonquin Peak is the second-highest peak in New York (Mount Marcy stands at 5,343 feet tall). Those starting or looking to complete their 46 High Peak challenge can easily add Wright Peak and Iroquois Mountain to their list. Not only are the views atop Algonquin and Wright Peaks stunning, but the alpine ecosystem is unique to all but a few places in New York. Be aware that Algonquin Peak (and Wright Peak if you choose the optional side trip) is an alpine zone. You won’t find this ecosystem anywhere in New York except atop the highest of the High Peaks. While this makes for a great experience, the vegetation is also rare, fragile, and endangered. Stepping or sitting on these plants will kill them and destroy the habitat. As such, avoid any vegetation in these zones, and only walk along designated trails and solid rock surfaces.
Lake Placid, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 8-8.8 miles
Ampersand Mountain sits on the confluence of the flat north and High Peaks regions of the Adirondacks. An extremely popular hike, it offers a varied experience as you transition from a gentle walk through tall hemlocks to a steep ascent over boulder stairs. Passage through enormous craggy boulders takes you to the bald summit, from which the lake sprawls out beneath you to the north and the High Peaks can be seen in the distance to the south. As with all popular trails, it is best to visit these in the off-season, during the week, or early if you have any desire for privacy.
Saranac Lake, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.2 miles
The powerful falls on the West Branch of the Sacandaga River are truly a sight to see. Channeled into a narrow flume, the river plunges 40 feet in a torrent of foamy waters. As a short-distance loop, this is an excellent introductory hike for children, but take caution near the falls because the cliffs are steep and potentially slippery. On the trail, walk along the rolling terrain a little more than 0.3 mile through mixed hardwoods. Ahead, you will begin to hear the roar of the falls, and it is likely that you will abandon the trail to explore the numerous paths that diverge from the main trail to find the best vantage point. Many of the paths that offer views and photo ops of the torrential falls are worn and crumbling, so watch your step.
Wells, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.1 mile
East River Trail is the return leg of a loop along the East Branch of Ausable (pronounced “aw-say-bull”) River. This section has fewer waterfalls, but it does include a side trip to Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs, which have impressive views and dramatic scenery of their own. This trail is on private property, but access to the public is granted through an easement. However, special rules apply.
Keene Valley, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6-9.7 miles
The East Branch of Ausable (pronounced “aw-say-bull”) River is a smorgasbord of waterfalls. From mossy cascades and powerful flumes to misty veils and thunderous sheer drops, the variety and multitude of waterfalls make this an ideal hike for waterfall lovers. The hike is rich with scenic lookouts and riverside strolling—overall an excellent excursion. This trail is on private property, but access to the public is granted through an easement. However, special rules apply; the main restrictions are that pets are not allowed, and no firearms, camping, hunting, fishing, swimming, or boating is allowed.
Keene Valley, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.7-10.8 miles
The initial descent from Algonquin Peak is bone jarring and punishing, 2,000 feet over 1.5 miles. Calling it a trail is a bit misleading; it’s actually more like (and at times literally is) an active streambed. The good news is that the remainder of the trail, though rugged, is fairly level. The trail really stands out when you reach Avalanche Lake and head deeper into the pass. Steep cliffs and exposed mountain slides surround you as you hike literally suspended several feet above the lake. Combined with Algonquin Peak’s stunning views and unique alpine zone, this trail is an amazing wilderness adventure but is recommended only for experienced hikers. Trail mileage begins with the 4-mile trek to reach Algonquin Peak.
Keene, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 11.8 miles
A newly constructed lean-to is available at Bear Lake, in addition to the popular lean-to at Woodhull Lake. There is wheelchair access along the Remsen Falls side trip. More than half of the loop to Bear and Woodhull lakes includes gravel and dirt access roads, but these roads are closed to traffic or are lightly traveled. The trail portions are truly excellent and include two lakes, a pond, and seasonal streams to hike beside. A side trip to Remsen Falls is easily accessible along the loop as well. The Remsen Falls side trip is wheelchair accessible, with a special parking area located closer to the falls.
McKeever, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2 to 10.2 miles
Be aware that the first section of the trail is a multiuse trail and mountain biking is becoming more popular in the region. The trail to the summit is hiking only. A popular destination in summer and fall, this tiny peak provides excellent views of the Fulton Chain of Lakes. It is a great choice for children and beginner hikers, but if you wish for solitude, then plan to go during the off-season, especially winter. The trail register is just inside the treeline. The trail—marked in yellow hiking, skiing, and biking disks—heads northeast through mixed hardwoods.
Inlet, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.9 miles
Black Mountain is the highest peak in the southeastern Adirondack–Lake George region. It lies a little farther from the bustling heart of Lake George, so hikers seeking more solitude in the eastern Adirondacks may find this an excellent choice. By summiting from the north and descending along the southern slope, you will traverse a wide variety of environs and maximize the number of panoramic views. The parking area off Pike Brook Road is sufficient for roughly a dozen cars conscientiously parked. The trailhead and trail register are on the western edge of the pulloff. Timber rattlesnakes are known to occupy the shores of Lake George, so be cautious when stepping over logs.
Lake George, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.7 miles
The beautiful stroll through a deep forest would be excuse enough to go on this hike, but the spectacular cliffs and sandy beaches in the Hudson River Gorge elevate it to a don’t-miss list. In the height of summer, it makes an excellent picnic or swimming destination with the option for excellent riverside camping. On dam-release days, especially during spring and fall, you will likely see rafters and kayakers navigating the turbulent rapids that flow at the base of these gigantic cliffs. Despite the thundering rapids that seem to be just beyond the treeline, you will not be able to see the river until you reach the trail’s end. At 2 miles you cross a large, exposed portion of ledge that marks the beginning of the descent to the river. This lookout reveals nothing through the thick foliage of summer, but when the leaves fall, it promises excellent views.
Newcomb, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 5 miles
These three pristine lakes offer a variety of activities and feature trails with varied levels of accessibility, making this an ideal trip for the entire family. The Moss Lake circuit, with its broad, flat trails and wheelchair-accessible sections, provides an excellent opportunity for the very young—or those no longer interested in hiking rugged trails—to enjoy the beauty of the Adirondacks. On the other hand, the Bubb and Sis lakes section features rugged trails and remote lakes that are easily combined with the circuit for extended and more invigorating trips. The trip described here includes taking a straight route past Bubb and Sis Lakes, then following the circuit around Moss Lake, and finally returning along the straight route between Bubb and Sis Lakes.
Old Forge, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 7 miles
Not to be confused with Cascade Lake in the High Peaks region, this scenic loop in the town of Inlet offers an excellent trip around the lake and includes a 43-foot waterfall. The roughly 6-mile circuit follows old access roads that are wide enough for two to walk side by side nearly the entire way. Wonderful camping spots are found along the north shore. Trail markers switch between yellow cross-country skiing disks and red foot-trail disks. Because most of the trail is along old access roads, it would be hard to lose your way.
Inlet, NY - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 5.9 miles
From a glance at a map, this trail looks deceptively uninteresting, but it has a lot to keep your interest. The analogy to a castle is well founded, and those with active imaginations will find themselves naming gates, turrets, and other structures while exploring the area. As a short loop, it provides a refreshing change from the innumerable out-and-backs typical of summits and other trails in the park. The parking area is a small pulloff near the Minnowbrook Conference Center. The trail register is just up the road within sight of the sandy parking area. However, the trail does not begin until a little more than 0.3 mile down the road.
Blue Mountain Lake, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.7 miles
Cat Mountain is a beautiful little peak that offers excellent views. Combined with the High Falls overnight trip, it makes a nice side trip or an extended day trip on its own. To add a bit more adventure to the hike, you can boat in from Cranberry Lake to Janacks Landing and bypass roughly 5 miles of the round-trip hike. Hike in from the western terminus of the High Falls Loop in Wanakena or boat to Janacks Landing in the Dead Creek Flow arm of Cranberry Lake. The trail described here will be from Wanakena with a side note about boat access; boaters can pick up the trail and follow the description from the Janacks Landing intersection.
Cranberry Lake, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8-9.7 miles
In a region noted for beautiful lakes and panoramic mountains, this geological oddity adds a spectacular variation. Formed over millennia, Chimney Mountain provides a great opportunity to view the geological forces that shaped the Adirondacks. Exploring the numerous formations will occupy most for hours, but for the spelunker and amateur geologist, a day trip probably will not suffice. To reach the trailhead, walk up the gravel drive past several cabins, approximately 0.2 mile from the parking area. The register is located beneath the shade of the encompassing forest. The Puffer Pond and Kings Flow East Trailheads are to your right, while the Chimney Mountain Trail is to your left.
Indian Lake, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2 miles
Crane Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in the southern Adirondacks: With its spectacular views and beautiful mountain pond, it is easy to see why. The climbing is steep, the descent bone-jarring, and the trail varied. It is a wonderful hike, but don’t expect privacy, as dozens of groups visit the peak each day. The climb is nearly vertical in sections, and you will have to use both hands in many places. Though it’s certainly within the grasp of most hikers and many children, those with bad joints or balance won’t find the climb or descent very enjoyable.
Warrensburg, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.6 miles
Like many peak trails in the Adirondacks, this trail begins along level terrain but quickly steepens as you approach the summit. Near the peak, the trail is particularly steep—near vertical in some sections—and will require use of your hands in some sections. But the climb is worth it, and you will be rewarded with a sprawling panorama of the Northern Adirondacks. The first decision you will have to make is whether to park in the public parking area located near the beach or at the trailhead parking area, via the access road. The distance from the public parking area to the end of the access road is roughly 0.7 mile, so parking at its end will reduce the trip by about a 1.4 miles overall.
Malone, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.4-8.8 miles
The East Branch of the Sacandaga River has a spectacular gorge with a serene waterfall and swimming hole that you can reach in two different ways. The most direct and clearest route is to follow the southern footpath to Square Falls. The most scenic and adventurous route is to ford the river and then bushwhack along the northern banks. Neither route is very long, and the two are easily combined if you choose to ford the river twice. There are no trail signs or indications of the trailhead either in the expansive parking area or from NY 8, so pay attention to your odometer, as there are numerous unmarked parking areas along NY 8.
Wells, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4 miles
At first glance, this hike may seem long, but the gently rolling terrain makes it an easy and relatively quick hike. Winding through a hardwood forest, the trail leads you from one pristine pond to another, offering excellent scenery and solitude the whole trip. Though the trail starts and ends in a bustling campground, it is likely that the only people you will encounter are canoeists at the numerous portages that crisscross the trail. Access is allowed and the day-use fee is waived during the off-season, but hikers will have to hike in along the access road from NY 30, which adds 0.8 mile to the trip. Campground roads are not plowed during the winter.
Tupper Lake, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.5 miles
This excellent trip combines a tall waterfall, scenic outlook, and picturesque pond within a very short distance. Don’t let the distance or description fool you though; the rugged trail provides you with plenty of climbing, along with the majestic scenery that is associated with the High Peaks region. The trail is broad and flat, and you can just barely glimpse Roaring Brook through hardwoods off to the right. During the peak of summer, the brook runs dry and indicates that the falls ahead may not be as majestic as during rainy conditions or during the winter melt.
Keene Valley, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.4 miles