Disclaimer: I was invited by the tourism board of Lake Placid to experience the town. As always, all opinions are my own. Also, there may be affiliate links sprinkled in this article, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I’ll make a small commission if you purchase through the links.
No trip to the Adirondacks is complete without hiking.
Hiking is one of the top things to do in Lake Placid, a charming lakeside destination that sits about five hours away from New York City by car. Due to its location in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, there’s an unbelievable number of trail options for hiking in Lake Placid.
Whether you’re looking to conquer one of the highest peaks in the state or searching for beginner-friendly hikes with grand views, the region surrounding Lake Placid offers some of the best hikes in New York. Better yet, there’s a trail for every skill level.
The Lake Placid tourism board recently invited me to experience the town and surrounding region. I was able to tackle two hikes during my visit: Indian Head Hike and Cobble Lookout, two fantastic hikes with incredible views.
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Tips for Hiking in Lake Placid
Hiking in Lake PLacid means hiking the mighty Adirondack Mountains, which boasts over 2,000 miles of hiking trails, 3,000 lakes and ponds, and 1,200 miles of rivers. The Adirondacks range from 1,200 to 5,000 feet in height. The 46 tallest peaks — known as the High Peaks — are all above 4,000 feet.
The highest of them all is Mount Marcy, which stands at a towering 5,344 feet above sea level. Fun fact: Mount Marcy is home to Lake Tear of the Clouds, the highest lake in New York and the source of the Hudson River.
Before heading on a hiking trip to Lake Placid, here are some tips to make your trip as seamless and safe as possible.
Protect yourself from ticks: Ticks are becoming increasingly prevalent in the Adirondacks, so it’s important to come prepared. Infected ticks can spread a number of diseases, including Lyme. To avoid tick bites, it’s recommended to wear long sleeves and/or pants when hiking. Other tips include wearing light-colored clothing, which makes it easier to spot them; avoid areas with large amounts of vegetation; and thoroughly check yourself and pets when you’re done hiking.
Stay hydrated: Summer in the Adirondacks brings lots of hot, sunny days to the trails. Be sure to bring your own water bottle and/or hydration pack to keep hydrated while hiking. It’s recommended that each person carry a minimum of two quarts of water in an unbreakable bottle while hiking.
Practice Leave No Trace: Familiarize yourself with the seven principles of Leave No Trace. Most importantly, make sure to dispose of your waste properly and leave absolutely no trash behind. Try to leave the forest cleaner than how you found it!
Wear appropriate hiking shoes: Hiking in Lake Placid requires sturdy hiking boots. Many trails have steep inclines, and some can be muddy. Having the proper hiking gear is crucial to avoid injuries like a sprained ankle, or worse. Shop Columbia hiking boots here >>
Bug spray: Some trails in Lake Placid can be buggy. Pack insect repellent to keep them away.
>> Related: Top Things To Do In Lake Placid in the Summer
What To Pack When Hiking in Lake Placid
Wondering what to pack for a hiking trip to Lake Placid? I’ve got you covered. Here’s a quick rundown of things to bring with you to Lake Placid.
- Hike-appropriate clothing (leggings/hiking pants, sports bra, T-shirts, hiking boots)
- Bathing suit (for all those post-hike lake swims)
- Lightweight jacket or sweatshirt for cool nights
- Water bottle and/or hydration pack
- Bug spray
- First-aid kit
- Snack bars
- Picnic blanket
Where To Stay In Lake Placid
The best place to stay in Lake Placid is on beautiful Mirror Lake. There are a number of lakefront hotels that offer sweeping views of the lake and surrounding mountains, many of which have rooms just steps from the water.
Overall, the mountain village offers an array of accommodation options for all budget levels, including luxury resorts and campgrounds. I personally stayed in a lakefront resort with a private beach. Waking up at sunrise to watch the sky’s reflection on Mirror Lake was one of my favorite parts of the trip.
My room at the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort was right on the lake, making it easy to enjoy a swim at any time of the day. The resort also offers free kayak, canoe and paddle board rentals for guests. It was truly the best way to experience lake life in the Adirondacks!
Below, view a list of recommendations of best places to stay in Lake Placid.
Hiking in Lake Placid: Indian Head Hike
The Indian Head hike is one of the most picturesque hikes in Lake Placid.
Indian Head is a low summit within the private land of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR). The hike is open to the public, but there’s a long approach via a dirt road to reach the trailhead.
Despite only rising 2,700 feet above sea level, the summit offers an unparalleled view of Lower Ausable Lake. The peak has been called the “Fjords of the Adirondacks,” as it’s said to be reminiscent of a Norwegian fjord.
How To Get To The Indian Head Hike
The Indian Head trailhead sits about 30 minutes away from Lake Placid in Keene Valley.
The Google Maps app shows the location as “Indian Head Trailhead,” with an address of 24 Ausable Road. After turning onto Ausable Road, you’ll see the main hiker’s lot on your immediate left. It’s across the road from the “Roaring Brook Falls” parking area.
Non-members are not allowed to enter the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, so hikers must leave their cars in this lot. The lot fills up extremely quickly! To grab a spot, make sure to arrive as early as possible.
Note: If this lot is full, you must find alternate parking across NY 73 or at other designated parking areas.
What To Expect From The Indian Head Hike
It’s a long hike! To reach the trailhead, hikers must walk along a dirt road that turns paved near a golf course. Continue onto the “Lake Road” until you find a small information booth and trail register.
The first portion of the hike features a gradual ascent along a dirt road, which can be quite boring. But there are many ways to make the hike up to Indian Head more exciting — one of the best ways to enjoy the hike is to do a loop out of the available trails in the area, such as adding a stop at a waterfall.
Indian Head + Fish Hawk Cliffs
One option is to stay on the Lake Road for 3 or so miles before beginning a steeper ascent up to Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs, another vantage point up top. (You get a great view of the Indian Head cliff from Fish Hawk Cliffs.)
On the way back, you can take the scenic Gill Brook Trail, which follows a creek through the woods and features a small waterfall. The Gill Brook trail eventually brings you back to the Lake Road, which you’ll follow to your car. This is a 10.4-mile loop.
Indian Head + Rainbow Falls
Another option is to combine the Indian Head hike with Rainbow Falls. Rather than take the long, boring Lake Road all the way up, you can either take the West End Trail from the trail registration stand, or continue on the Lake Road trail until you see a sign for “East River Trail.” Also look out for signs signaling a “Rainbow Falls detour,” as the East River Trail was closed at the time this blog post went live.
With this route, you’ll add a stop at Rainbow Falls before continuing on to the Indian Head summit. The hike would be about 11 miles round-trip.
Read more about hiking Indian Head and Rainbow Falls here.
Things To Know Before Hiking Indian Head:
— no dogs allowed
— arrive before 7 a.m.; the parking lot fills up extremely early
— it’s a long hike
— expect the hike to take from five to six hours
— keep an eye out for trail detours
— if you see a sign saying “scenic/easy,” take the scenic route!
Hiking in Lake Placid: Cobble Lookout
Cobble Lookout is an easy 2.4-mile out and back trail near Wilmington that offers incredible views over the Adirondacks. The trailhead sits about 20 minutes from Lake Placid.
The hike itself is one of the easiest yet most rewarding in the area. In just 30 minutes, you’ll find yourself atop one of the best and easily accessed viewpoints near Lake Placid.
The Cobble Lookout trail takes you to a large cliff area with a 180-degree view of the surrounding peaks, with rolling green mountains stretching on for miles and miles in front of you.
How To Get To The Cobble Lookout Trailhead
The Cobble Lookout trailhead is located about 30 minutes from Lake Placid. To get there, take New York State Route 86 to Whiteface Mountain Highway (route 431). Turn left, and drive up to the Gillespie Drive junction. Veer right onto Gillespie Drive, and the parking area for Cobble Lookout will be on your right.
What To Expect From The Cobble Lookout Hike
The Cobble Lookout trailhead starts immediately on the side of Gillespie Drive. It’s a quick, 30-minute walk through the forest until the trees clear out onto a massive cliff that overlooks the surrounding mountains.
The trail is mostly flat, with about 200 or so feet of elevation gain. This hike is perfect for beginners, families, people short on time or anyone looking for a fantastic view with little effort required.
Things To Know Before Hiking To Cobble Lookout:
— one of the easiest trails in the region
— dogs are allowed
— a great trail for sunset or sunrise hikes
— good for all skill levels
Lake Placid and the surrounding Adirondack region offer some of the best hiking trails in the state of New York. Whether you’re hiking one of the 46 High Peaks or looking for beginner-friendly trails with rewarding views, hiking in Lake Placid has the best of both worlds.
Enjoy your trip upstate!
Looking for more New York travel ideas? You may enjoy these posts:
— What To Do In Lake Placid in the Summer
— 6 Must-See Finger Lakes Waterfalls in New York
— Where To Go Skiing Near NYC
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