Best Hiking Trails in Adirondack Park
The 6 million acre Adirondack Park was established in 1892 by the State of New York out of concern for the state's timber and water resources. Of these 6 million acres, 2.6 million acres are public state park lands with designated wilderness, primitive, and historic areas.The remaining 3.4 million acres are privately owned lands regulated by the Adirondack Park Agency. In 1894, the Forever Wild clause was added, requiring that all state land within the park be kept as a forest preserve. Because the original cartographers (get to know Verplank Colvin) used blue ink to first delineate the boundaries of the Adirondack Park, you will hear folks refer to places in the park as "inside the Blue Line." With an estimated 2,000 miles of hiking trails, including the 46 tallest peaks in the state, there is no shortage of trails, treks, and adventures. Mt Marcy clocks in as the state's highest at 5,343 feet, but any one of the High Peaks offer jaw dropping vistas. This place should come with a warning- it's addictive, gets under your skin, and is like nowhere else in the east.
The Adirondack Park is not a National Park and, therefore, there is no entrance, parking, or usage fee for trails. Weather changes quickly here, and is hard to see coming with all the mountains, so hike prepared. The winds like to kick up around 2 every afternoon in the summer, and like they always say, if you don't like the weather- wait 5 minutes.
When to Go
The Adirondacks are the southern portion of the eastern boreal forest region, which extends into Maine and Canada. What this means are large stands of Balsam, Spruce, and Hemlock interspersed with uninterrupted tracts of northern hardwood forests which all translates into epic fall foliage. That being said, high summer, fall, and winter bring heavy traffic to the Park's trail heads, towns, and waterways. Summer finds many of the more easily accessible trailheads (Rondaxe Mountain outside of Old Forge for example, or any of the High Peaks trailheads off rte 73 through Keene) stuffed to capacity. Your best bet for solitude are the 'tween seasons like early summer before schools get out or early winter before there is enough snow for skiers and snowmobiles. Please note: Black Fly Season is a REAL THING. From mid-May to end of June (depending on rain fall) you are part of the food chain.
The state runs numerous camprounds - there is a fee per night and campsites can be reserved in advance. There are many other campsites scattered throughout the state owned lands of the Adirondacks that are free first-come first-served campsites. Some of these campsites are accessible by motor vehicles, some only by trail and some only by water. At these campsites, stays longer than 3 nights or large groups require permits (there is no charge for the permits). Always refer to DEC state regulations for details about your trip.
A Google search will give you endless ideas of what trails are good for Fido, and which ones to avoid. Know your dog and her capabilities, use common sense, and refer to DEC state regulations if you're unsure. With 3,000 lakes and ponds and 30,000 miles of streams, just be prepared to take a wet dog home.