My name is Julie and I am 27 years old. I grew up in Upstate New York and live two hours south of the Adirondack Mountains – an incredible place to go hiking. My mom inspired my love for the outdoors. From a young age she always took me out walking, biking, hiking and exploring. Because of that I have always had this strong desire to be outdoors in nature.
As I got older in school I rowed crew – again this is a sport that brought me outside, becoming closer to nature. Being out on the water rowing was a big part of shaping me into a young adult. In 2020 when the pandemic broke out, I was looking for creative things to do with my fiance so we could “socially distance” from others and hiking definitely fitted the bill!
We went on our first hike as a couple to Crane Mountain in Lake George and it was a relationship changing event. From the moment we reached the summit we started planning more hikes, when we could go next and what hiking challenges we wanted to accomplish together as a couple! Needless to say, when we started hiking – we haven’t stopped since.
Why Go Hiking in the Adirondack Mountains?
The Adirondacks are special to me because they are home. I love how wooded the trails are – you get to smell all the different trees and plants. I love how rocky the summits are and how steep the terrain is. Hiking in the Adirondacks is enjoyable for me because this is what I am used to doing and they are close to home, so they will always be part of who I am!
Since I started actively hiking in May, 2020 I have completed the Tupper Lake Triad, Lake George 12ster, Lake Placid 9er (in winter), Fulton Chain Trifecta, and 21 out of the 46 High Peaks. I am currently working on my winter Saranac 6 Challenge. I have hiked over 200 peaks and 800 miles since starting and I am looking forward to continuing this active lifestyle!
The next hikes on my list are definitely more of the 46 High Peaks. I would also like to hike in some different regions – out in some of the Western US states preferably! My favorite hiking experience in the Adirondack Mountains so far was Mount Colden via Avalanche Lake. This was a special hike for me for several reasons. Firstly, the day was absolutely perfect!
The weather conditions on offer were a bright sunny, blue bird day. I also loved this hike because I felt confident, strong, powerful and maintained a consistent pace throughout the ascent. I was incredibly proud of my performance. The summit was gorgeous – one of those hikes that you get to the top and are left speechless with all those stunning mountain views.
I also loved the uniqueness of this hike. Hiking by Avalanche Lake, there is an elevated wooden walkway next to the lake (Hitch-Up Matildas) and it was just such a unique way to hike and something I had never done before! Definitely a day for the books and I will 100% do that hike again.
Most Difficult Hikes in the Adirondacks
It’s hard to say what the hardest hike in the Adirondacks is because all of the trails are so different and have proven difficult for different reasons! The most physically challenging hike was Giant Mountain and Rocky Peak Ridge. This hike is about nine miles roundtrip but in that short time you gain over 4,300 ft of elevation and there is nothing gradual about it.
The hike starts right off the road and just goes straight up. After miles of this constant climb you then go down into a big cole and back up for Rocky Peak Ridge. And then back down again and back up to Giant Mountain!
Needless to say my legs had nothing left to give by the end of it! The reward was definitely the beautiful view and the knowledge I gained from this hike. I came home and realized I needed to work on my leg strength so that my legs were able to support me on these more challenging treks.
The most mentally challenging hike was Dial Mountain and Nippletop. The reason for this was that it was our third and fourth Adirondack High Peak and it was much more challenging than our first two. It was my first time hiking with a headlamp (that was a challenge to try and curb my fear of animals/darkness) and my first time hiking a trail so long.
The first half of the hike ascended straight up and it was very difficult. I think the biggest thing I struggled with on this hike was feeling like: “Can I do this?” “Am I in over my head?” Once I removed all those negative thoughts I was able to think clearly, realize I was well prepared and just focus on my legs/my breath and moving slowly up the mountain.
This was incredibly rewarding reaching the top because I did it! I knew after that that I could keep doing this and that I was capable of bigger and better things. It was very rewarding for me and set me up for the other 18 High Peaks I set out to accomplish in the Adirondacks the next year.
Eco-Friendly Hiking in the Adirondack Mountains
I think the biggest advice I have for anyone who is thinking about hiking in the Adirondacks is to realize that there are so many other gorgeous, fun and challenging hikes that aren’t High Peaks. Hikes like Hurricane Mountain, Bear Den, Baxter, Roostercomb and Buck Mountain are all fun and offer some challenges in their terrain but yet great rewarding reviews!
One fun fact for you – the Adirondack Park gets more traffic than the Grand Canyon every year – bet you never expected that huh? And because of this we are starting to see more effects of the traffic to more popular trails – damage to alpine plants, more rescues needed, trail erosion and more.
Some of the alpine vegetation has been around for 10,000 years – since glaciers were on the summit! Now with 27 species left and people stomping on them (carelessly/unknowingly), they are at risk of extinction!
I know most of you are reading this just expecting to see some fun hiking recommendations on here but I also wanted to use my voice/platform to bring awareness to this important topic. The Adirondacks are my home and I would like my kids, their kids, and their kids to be able to enjoy them. So if you are reading this and plan to visit the Adirondacks, please do your homework and learn how you can be careful so as to not leave a trace.
The best things you can do are the following: be prepared (pack the appropriate gear/equipment), stay on trail, be wary of walking on rocks and don’t walk on the vegetation, only camp in designated areas, don’t litter and follow leave no trace principles just like any other place you go!
Best Time of Year to Visit the Adirondacks
The best time of year to go hiking in the Adirondack Mountains is really up for debate! I love hiking in the Adirondack Mountains all year long. All seasons bring some sort of enjoyment and peace to me. The Adirondacks are more popularly traveled in the summer though.
I love hiking in the summer because I can just lay on the summits and soak in the sunshine and warmth on every hike. However, hiking in the winter allows for less crowds, more peace and quiet, and less busy trailhead parking – so I definitely prefer the quiet in winter in the Adirondacks.
There is no argument about it: the Adirondack Mountains are a beautiful region, perfect for hiking all year round. And there is so much more to do than just hiking. You can also go biking, camping, paddling, skiing and more! I recommend taking the time to immerse yourself in all that the Adirondacks have to offer and I promise that you will thoroughly enjoy it!