Fall Foliage Hikes in the Adirondacks
As the autumn chill descends on the Northeast, every native knows it’s the perfect time for a fall hike and some quality leaf peeping. Whether on foot, or by car, the Adirondacks in upstate New York offer some of the most beautiful fall foliage views.
In the Adirondacks, the peak leaf viewing season ranges from the last week in September to the third week of October. You can generally count on when leaves will start turning (or at least in what relative order) by their elevation. High Peaks first, followed by Lake Placid and Keene Valley, followed by Lake George and Champlain Valley. Sections of Vermont are also infamous for their coloring leaves.
Unfortunately, this has not been the best season for leaf peeping in upstate NY and the Adirondacks. Something to do with the warm weather and late frost, but even in a slow year, the leaf color changing is still an awesome sight. The best ways to enjoy the foliage are on foot or by car. Unfortunately, choosing the right hike can be tricky. Here are some of my top picks for relatively easy—but always beautiful— Adirondack hikes.
A great hike for a first-timer or for someone returning to the sport – or just if you want to go see the scenery. The trail is actually an old carriage trail and is fairly well kept. If you want the best view of Lake George, you don’t actually want to go to the trailhead, but cut across to the left when you come to the first clearing.
Distance: 3.4 miles round trip
Average time: 1.5 hours
Notes: If you get the chance, head over to Shelving Rock Falls as well – it’s a flat (and short) hike not far from the entrance to the Shelving Rock trail.
More of a “real hike” Sleeping Beauty is almost twice as long as Shelving Rock, but can still be considered a gentle hike. The trail takes you to the summit of Sleeping Beauty Mountain where you can enjoy views of Lake George, and the surrounding mountains, including Crane and Killington mountains. Make sure to bring some snacks to enjoy while you rest at the top.
Distance: 7 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Average time: 3.5 hours
Severance Mountain is more hill than mountain, so it’s one of the easier hikes– it doesn’t get too steep, and the trail is very well maintained. Severance is a very popular trail, so expect to exchange hiking stories with other adventurers on your way up.
Distance: 2.4 miles round trip
Average time: 1.25 hours
If you’re less of a hiker, more of a driver, there are 12 “Scenic Byways” that boast some of the best places to view the Adirondack foliage on display:
• Lakes to Locks Passage
• Mohawk Towpath Byway
• Adirondack Trail
• Black River Trail
• Central Adirondack Trail
• Dude Ranch Trail
• Military Byway
• Olympic Byway
• Roosevelt –Marcy Byway
• High Peaks Byway
• Blue Ridge Road
• Southern Adirondacks Trail
These ‘byways’ were mapped and created by the Adirondack Tourism Board and follow various routes of interest, meandering between towns and fall festivals.
There are countless things to do in the Adirondacks come fall. So, head to the mountains and soak in the beautiful views and the serenity they inspire.