Beginners Guide to Hiking the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks. A place in Northeastern, NY, with over 6 million acres of mountains, 3,000 lakes and ponds, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, and one of the most beautiful places you will ever see. Home to many outdoor lovers of all kinds. From multi-day backpacking adventures, and long day hikes to 4,000 footers, family-friendly hikes, waterfalls, summit views, and 46 high peaks, the Adirondacks offer something for everyone. Small towns with big outdoors have become trendy places for tourists. They get over one million per year! There are over 2,000 miles of hiking trails to choose from, and it can be a little overwhelming to get started. Depending on what you are looking for, here are a few ideas from local hikers that know where to go and where to be a little extra careful.

Easy Day Trips For You And The Family:

Cascade Peak Hiking Trails

Cascade Peak is one of the more accessible hikes. It’s perfect if you are a beginner hiker or having a family outing. Have the kiddos each grab a small rock when you hit the trailhead. You will see small piles of them as you move on further, called Cairns. Small piles of stones are stacked together to be used to define trails. The Cascade trails are very well marked and moderate throughout the woods and surroundings, making this hike an enjoyable and comforting experience.

Buck Mountain Hiking Trails

This is a good trail for beginners looking for a bit more of a challenge but not an overwhelming hike. Located eastern shore of Lake George, the path is 3.3 miles long and 6.6 miles roundtrip. This is another trail with Cairns that marks certain areas to hike through. The early walk through the wooded section of the course is easy and flat with lots of shade. As you get to the summit, the trees start to thin out, letting more sunlight hit, and the trail itself becomes a bit more complicated. You get gorgeous views up and down the lake throughout the trail.

A few tips for beginners when hiking the Adirondacks:

  • Start early! You will not want to start your hike in the middle of the day when the sun is already starting to kick, and you don’t want to get stuck heading back down the mountain when it starts getting dark.
  • Clothing. Many beginners think wearing a pair of jeans is a good idea for a long day’s hike. It is one of the worst things you could wear. Most jeans are made with cotton. Cotton takes a while to dry, and if you are hiking in the warmer seasons, the more you sweat, the heavier the jeans will be.
  • Weather. Layer, layer, layer. As you start your hike, your body will begin to warm up, and you will feel happy with your choice of T-shirts and shorts. But the higher you go into the mountain, the colder it gets. Make sure to wear things you can easily take off and throw in your pack.
  • Do not wear new boots. If you just purchased a new pair of boots for hiking, it is best to wear them out a bit before hitting the trail. Going out on a hike with a pair of boots fresh out of the box will leave you with blisters.
  • Bears. Not to scare you, but it is best always to be prepared. We do have black bears in the Adirondack mountains. Black bears do not attack people for no reason unless they are provoked or scared. That is when they can be aggressive. When hiking (especially alone), try to make as much noise as possible. Some people wear a small bell on their packs. If there are bears on the trail, they will hear you coming and will likely run the other way. If you are making an overnight trip, it is required in the Adirondacks to have a bear canister to keep your food in.

Leave No Trace!

Following the Leave No Trace Rule will help protect the Adirondacks’ waters, forests, and mountains. Making our six-million-acre park safe and fun for everyone.

  1. Carry out what you carry in. Place all of your snack food wrappers inside each other making one easy package to carry out and throw away once you leave the park.
  2. Do not feed or approach wildlife. Example- Once bears become used to our food, they lose their natural fear of people, resulting in more human-bear conflicts.
  3. Dispose of waste properly. Find a spot at least 200 steps from any water source. Dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and bury human waste. Pack out used toilet paper.
  4. Minimize Campfires. Everyone loves a good campfire when having an overnight trip. But it is essential to inspect the area before just stacking some logs and starting the flames. Be aware of low-hanging branches and ensure your surroundings are not covered in dry, easy-to-catch fire leaves.

Watch Out For Some Of The Plants.

Do your research before hitting the trails. Many people can not recognize a poisonous plant from a regular one. You do not want your ankle to rub up against, your dog starts chewing on, or your little one to get their hands on something that will end your trip to the doctor’s office. So before heading out, keep an eye out for these plants:

  • Poison ivy – Grows as a vine or small shrub. It has three glossy leaves.
  • Poison Sumac – All poison sumac leaves are oval-shaped with smooth edges and pointed tips.
  • Giant Hogweed – They are big white flowers with a flat top and are about eight to fourteen feet tall.
  • Cow Parsnip – Rough and hairy with white or cream-colored flowers.
  • Wild Parsnip – Sawtooth edges-yellow flowers
  • Stinging Nettle – Small greenish flowers with stinging hairs.

Four hours north of New York City and spanning over six million acres, a historic landmark, the largest publicly protected area, mountains over five million years old, there is never a dull moment here. A place where locals call their forever home and visitors leave with an exciting adventure story to tell their friends back home.