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Adirondack Mountains

There are 1606 named mountains in Adirondack Mountains. The Adirondack Mountains, nicknamed the Adirondacks, extend from the St. Lawrence River Valley to the Mohawk River Valley in northeastern New York.

Unlike other notable, linear mountain ranges, the Adirondacks form a circular dome that is 160 miles in diameter and approximately 1 mile high. Although the one-billion-year-old rocks that form the Adirondacks are considered some of the oldest rocks in the world, the mountains themselves are relatively young and continue to grow each year.

Over 40 summits in the Adirondacks reach higher than 4,000 feet in elevation, the tallest include Mount Marcy, the tallest point in New York, Algonquin Peak, the second highest in the state, and Mount Haystack, a round, conical peak and New York’s third tallest mountain. Other noteworthy mountains in the Adirondacks include Whiteface Mountain, whose eastern slope was home to the alpine skiing competitions of the 1980 Winter Olympics, and Mount Skylight, a favorite mountain summit for local hikers.

Adirondack Mountains

Photo credit: thedirtytraveler.

The Adirondacks region includes nearly 100 communities, but New York’s most cherished mountain range and the surrounding Adirondack Park are not only sparsely populated and settled, but fiercely protected by both federal and state law. Spanning for more than six million acres, the Adirondacks are considered the largest protected natural area in the lower 48 states.

In fact, in 1892, after a large portion of the park was destroyed by logging, hunting, and forest fires, the Adirondack Park was established by the State of New York to help protect and preserve water and timber resources. Clearly outlined in the establishment of the park were the guidelines that the region should remain “forever wild.”

Today, just a few hours from major metropolitan areas like New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia, the Adirondacks remain the largest wilderness area in the eastern United States and is nearly three times the size of Yellowstone National Park.

Adirondacks in Winter

The Adirondacks photo by thedirtytraveler.

Today, the Adirondacks are one of the only two constitutionally protected landscapes in the world and the most prized protected land in the state of New York for hiking, climbing, backpacking, canoeing, and other outdoor recreation activities. Interestingly, unlike other state and national parks, there is no entrance fee to enter the Adirondack Park and enjoy the landscape.

The “High Peaks” of the Adirondacks, 46 mountains that reach just under or over 4,000 feet, draw the most visitors and avid hikers; most of which are attempting to earn a badge from the Adirondack 46ers club for bagging each peak. In the early 20th century, the High Peaks were considered the 46 tallest mountains in the Adirondack Park, however, later surveys revealed that not all of these peaks reached the 4,000-ft elevation requirement. Regardless, the original 46 peaks are still regarded as the High Peaks, and over 500 miles of trail can be enjoyed in this area.

Lake Placid from Whiteface Mountain

A view of Lake Placid as seen by looking south west from the summit of Whiteface Mountain.

Major Trails and Hiking Areas

Mount Colden – One of the more popular peaks in the Adirondacks, Mount Colden is home to several hiking trails, all ranging in difficulty. The infamous Trap Dike is the first trail ever traversed to the top of Mount Colden and, although it’s arguably more of a scramble than a hike, it remains a local favorite for visitors exploring the Adirondacks.

Gothics Mountain - Known to be one of the best peaks in the Adirondacks, the bare summit of Gothics Mountain offers 360 degree views of the surrounding Adirondack wilderness. Although there are several different trails to choose from, Gothics Mountain is considered one of the more challenging hikes in the High Peaks region and fixed cables or ladders have been strategically placed to assist hikers to the summit.

Mount Marcy, Mount Skylight and Gray Peak Loop - At just over 18 miles and 3,178 feet of elevation gain, this trek isn’t for the faint of heart. After taking in sweeping views from New York’s tallest Peak, Mount Marcy, follow the loop to two other incredibly 4,000-foot peaks, Mount Skylight and Gray Peak. If you can’t tackle all three, each peak also has its own network of trails to explore.

Whiteface Mountain - Views from the peak of Whiteface Mountain include the Green Mountains in Vermont, skyscrapers in Montreal, and the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Whiteface Mountain is often recognized as being the home to the world renowned Whiteface Ski Center, but is also one of the only peaks in the Adirondacks that has a developed summit and has a seasonal road that reaches 4,600 feet.

Arab Mountain - An easier trek on this list, the 1-mile hike to Arab Mountain is a short, moderate trail that offers panoramic views of surrounding lakes and reservoirs. This trail also features a historic fire tower and museum.

Adirondack Fire Towers - Antique fire towers like the Blue Mountain Fire Tower, Pillsbury Mountain Fire Tower, Snowy Mountain Fire Tower, Belfry Mountain Fire Tower, and Owls Head Fire Tower, offer a unique opportunity to experience a piece of history while hiking in the Adirondacks. High above the treetops, the Adirondack Fire Towers offer unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains and wilderness.

Gothics and Armstrong Mountain

Photo credit: thedirtytraveler.

Major Cities and Resorts

Lake Placid, New York

Lake Placid is the most recognizable and reputable mountain villages in the Adirondacks. Not only was this quaint mountain town the two-time host of the Winter Olympics, Lake Placid’s proximity to the Adirondack wilderness makes it the ideal place to stay for anyone looking to explore the area.

Lake Placid Lodge

The only hotel on Lake Placid, Lake Placid Lodge is one of the most charming and eclectic places to stay in the area. The Lake Placid Lodge offers accommodations in the main lodge or private cabins with incredible views of the lake. The lodge is known to offer luxury and comfort in the woods.

Whiteface Mountain and Lodge

Recognized as New York’s premier Ski Resort, Whiteface is said to have the greatest vertical of any lift-serviced mountain in the Northeast. With skiable terrain at 4,650 feet, 87 trails, 22 miles of skiable terrain, and 288 skiable acres to choose from, it’s hard to compete with Whiteface in terms of winter recreation opportunities.

High Peaks Resort

Often referred to as the ideal basecamp for outdoor recreation, High Peaks Resort encompasses three unique hotels, the Resort, the Lake House, and the Waterfront Collection, all within the heart of Lake Placid. Visitors that choose to stay at High Peaks will be provided a free pass to Cascade Cross Country Ski Center and a free shuttle to and from Whiteface Mountain.

Mirror Lake Inn and Resort

A classic Adirondack resort, the Mirror Lake Inn and Resort overlooks Lake Placid’s mainstreet, Mirror Lake and offers views of the surrounding Adirondack range. The Inn has been around since 1976 and remains a family-owned business today. Visitors appreciate the Mirror Lake Inn for its local charm, proximity to outdoor recreation opportunities, and panoramic views.

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