The Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York are among the most gorgeous scenery in the Northeast U.S., particularly in the fall when the leaves begin changing. The best way to take in the scenery, of course, is through a hike. But what are the best Adirondack hikes?
According to the Adirondacks website, the Adirondacks are spread over six million acres — that’s a lot of area to cover. Throughout these six millions acres are countless breathtaking views of rivers, lakes, and mountains that you can access via countless trails for beginners, experts, and everyone in between.
The Adirondacks are divided into 12 regions, so your trail of choice will depend on the region in which you end up. I’ve visited three regions of the Adirondacks myself: Lake George, Schroon Lake, and Lake Champlain.
Personally, Lake George is my favorite. The area is incredibly family friendly with plenty of activities for people (and pets) of all ages, especially in the summer and fall months.
As a kid, I visited the Lake George area with family every summer, and recently took a trip back there with my mom to relive some old memories and make new ones. While I didn’t exactly love hiking as a kid (you can take the girl away from the beach, but she’s just gonna complain about it the whole time), this time around, I made it a point to find a good hike for my mom and I.
After doing some research, I eventually chose the Buck Mountain Summit trail in Pilot Knob for its moderate length and rewarding views of Lake George.
Buck Mountain Summit Trail Difficulty
The Buck Mountain Summit Trail has a “hard” rating from AllTrails. I’m not nearly an expert hiker myself, but I didn’t find it all that hard. However, it certainly wasn’t the easiest. I will say that the trail was very steep and rocky in most places, and my little hamstrings were definitely sore the next couple of days!
As for my mom, about halfway through, we had to take short breaks every ten minutes or so so she could catch her breath, but she was able to complete it and take in the trail’s stunning views.
Buck Mountain Summit trail is family-friendly. When I say there were people of all ages headed up and down the trail, I mean every age from infants in carriers to older men and women totally blowing past my mom and I!
The trail is also dog-friendly, though I’d suggest only bringing younger dogs as it is a fairly long, steep hike. And don’t forget to bring some water for your furry friend!
Take note of your own endurance and strength levels before giving this trail a try, and don’t push yourself too hard.
How To Get To Buck Mountain Summit Trailhead
Buck Mountain Trailhead is located in Pilot Knob at the end of Lake George, completely opposite of Lake George Village. Bonus: it’s a scenic drive!
From I-87, you’ll take exit 20 towards NY-149 and go roughly 4.5 miles before turning left on NY-9L. After another 4.5 miles, make a right only Pilot Knob Road.
The trailhead is located at the end of Pilot Knob Road. If you’ve hit the firehouse, you’ve gone too far.
It’s open all year round, too, so you can visit at different times of the year for a completely different experience and view each time.
Length Of Hike
While AllTrails has Buck Mountain Summit trail listed as 5.8 miles, signage at the actual trailhead says 6.7. We started the hike around 11:30 AM and we were back to the car by 3. This includes a couple of breaks and about a half an hour eating lunch and taking in the views at the summit.
Buck Mountain Summit Trail Tips
Heads up: there aren’t any bathrooms anywhere along the trail except for nature itself. I learned this the hard way, as my bladder was dangerously close to exploding when we reached the trailhead! I popped behind a tree to tinkle, just have someone on the lookout to make sure you’re not in full view of other hikers.
Wear hiking boots! This trail is steep, rocky, and at some points, slippery, so you’ll need all the traction you can get. I’ve experienced hiking in both crappy sneakers and good boots — you’re safest on this trail with good boots.
Prepare accordingly in cooler months. You’re gonna warm up as you make your way up the trail, but the summit can get windy. Layers, my friend!
The parking lot is rather small, especially if people park the way lots of people like to park: without any regard for other drivers. If you want a spot in the lot, the earlier you get there the better. Otherwise, there is some room on the side of the road. Just be careful — our car almost got stuck in a ditch!