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Best Hiking Trails Central Adirondacks

“Hike Your Own Hike.” – Thru-Hiker

The Adirondacks Mountains in New York are bigger than several national parks combined ( Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, and the Smokie). With over 6 million acres to explore, hiking is a favorite pastime in this neck of the woods. There are thousands of hiking trails in the Adirondacks park just waiting for your to explore. The article covers the best hiking trails in Central Adirondacks of New York. These towns include Old Forge, Inlet, Long Lake, and Raquette Lake.

We are going to break them down for you in terms of length, difficulty, and location.

Best Hiking Trails Central Adirondacks

Old Forge and Inlet Hiking Trails

Bald Mountain Fire Tower

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

The Best Hiking Trails in Central Adirondacks is Bald Mountain Fire Tower (as known as Rondaxe Fire Tower) is a historic Adirondack fire tower located on Rondaxe Mountain in Hamilton County, New York. It is within the boundaries of the Black River Wild Forest and the Golden Hill State Forest.

The hike to the top of Bald Mountain is a simple, if not easy one. The total distance will be just under 1 mile (each way) and your ascent up 500 feet awaits you at its summit (2300 ft)! There are some steep rocks that even kids can do with ease – so don’t worry about them being too young or old for this adventure. You will all enjoy the breathtaking views that await you.

Location: On Route 28 between Old Forge and Inlet, turn onto Rondaxe Road for .2 miles. The parking lot is on the left side and so is the trailhead.

Moss Lake

Moss Lake

This 2.5-mile hike is easy, flat, and well maintained through the beautiful forest area. This hike travels around the lake and offers many views and spots to stop and rest. While on this trail, you will pass some swamps and a beaver dam.

It can be accessed off of Route 28 by turning on Big Moose Road in Eagle Bay. Travel 3.8 miles and the parking lot will be on the left. This parking area is also used for hikes to Bubb and Sis Lake.

Bubb and Sis Lake

Can be found at the same parking lot as Moss Lake (see above for directions), this 1.8 mile is not flat but is an easy trek. The beginning of the trail can be a little hard to find but look for a rocky path, this is the trail. At about .3 miles you will see markers. There are nice views of the lake and an overall fun hike.

Cascade Lake and Falls

Cascade Lake is an intermediate hike (mostly flat but can get a little rough in some places) that is 5.9 miles roundtrip loop. The beginning of the trail is also a horse trail so watch out for horses and poop on the trail.

This 40-foot waterfall can be a little tricky to find as the trail is not marked and it is off the path at the far end of the lake.

Also when it rains this trail can get muddy so if you’re hiking at these times be prepared for mud and wear proper footwear.

Access this hike off of Route 28 on Big Moose Road 1.8 miles to the parking lot on the right.

Rocky Mountain Summit

Rocky Mountain is a short, (.5 mile each way) steep hike, but it’s well worth the effort when you reach the summit. It’s the most popular hike in Inlet bit is short that even the kids can do it!

Rocky Mountain Summit

Reaching the rocky summit in no time, enjoy the view of Fourth Lake in front of you!

Trailhead is on Route 28 south of downtown Inlet. This trailhead is to the left of the parking lot.

Black Bear Mountain Summit

Using the same parking area as the Rocky Mountain Summit hike (above) only to the right of the parking lot.

photo courtesy of alltrails.com

The Black Bear Mountain Summit is a 5-mile loop hike that climbs to the summit of Black Bear Mountain and offers stunning views of the area. It’s best to take the blue trail up and the yellow marked trail down. It does get steep and challenging towards the top on the blue trail (they have ropes to help you climb). This hike is for advanced hikers.

If you are looking for a little easier hike your best bet would be to take the yellow trail up and down. It is a longer trail at 6.2 miles but much easier to navigate.

Enjoy the stunning views no matter which trail you choose.

Bug Lake and Eagle’s Nest

The Trail to Bug Lake is 1.5 miles (easy) and to Eagle’s Next Pond, 1 mile (easy). Hiking time for both lakes is around 3 hours.

Bug lake

The hike starts on an old woods road and goes past a bridge over a muddy pond. The trail brings you through the camping area between two lakes where you have to take a left at an intersection near them to complete this loop

From Inlet follow Route 28 toward Raquette Lake for 8 miles to the Eighth Lake State Campground. You access these hikes from trailheads in the back of the campground. You will need to pay the day-use fee.

Cathedral Pines

This is a great short, easy hike for families with small children. At a little less than a 1/2 mile, this loop travels an area of old-growth pine trees and you also get a view of the lake. This is also a memorial plaque by one of the trees for a local soldier, Malcolm L. Blue, who was killed in World War II.

To get to the trailhead, take Route 28 to about a mile from the entrance of Eight Lake Campground. The trail is on the north side of Route 28.

Ferd’s Bog

Ferd’s Bog hike is another short hike (.03 miles each way)on a boardwalk leading to the bog with great views of the mountains. It is part of the  Pigeon Lake Wilderness.

Take Route 28 to Eagle Bay and turn onto (left) Uncas Road. In about 3 miles you will see a small parking lot on the left, park there and follow the sign to the trailhead.

For information check out Old Forge, NY, the Perfect Getaway.

Long Lake and Raquette Lake Hiking Trails

Owls Head Mountain Fire Tower

This moderate 6.3-mile hike leads to the summit of Owl’s Head Mountain in Long Lake offers some of the best hiking trails in the Central Adirondacks. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. The first 2 miles are through a forest then you start your descent to the top. At first not too bad but gets steeper as you climb and the last .3 miles is a scramble which can be tough. You are rewarded with the restored fire tower. You can climb it for stunning views. If you are afraid of heights, like me, you can still experience the beauty of the area from some spots.

On Route 30 in Long Lake, go through town and go across the Long Lake Bridge. About a 1/2 after the bridge turn left on Endion Road. After 1.5 miles you will see the trailhead on the right.

Death Brook Falls

Death Brook Falls trail is a short, easy hike (.6 miles) to a beautiful waterfall. There is a boggy spot along the trail so you may have to log hop.

On the trail, you will come to a fork in the road, go left to the base of the falls. If you go right you will head above the falls. You can continue for about 1 1/2 miles then the trail will abruptly end.

Trailhead in on Route 30 in Raquette Lake a little bit past the Golden Beach Campground entrance. You will use a metal gate across a dirt road which is the beginning of the trail.

Sagamore Lake Trail

The Sagamore Lake trail is mostly flat and easy which makes it a popular hiking and snowshoeing trail in the Adirondacks that ends at the shoreline of Sagamore Lake. The trail gently climbs above the lake to provide beautiful views before descending back to the shoreline which makes for a great family outing.

During the winter when there is enough snow, this trail is a great place to try out your cross-country skis and snowshoes. It has excellent winter views of the lake and surrounding mountains, with many scenic areas for rest stops or lunch breaks. A word of caution: There are some spots where ice can be an issue and caution should be taken.

In 2019 a boardwalk (135 feet long) was added to the area so visitors can enjoy views of the wetlands and staying dry.

The parking area is near the end of the long gravel Sagamore Road, south of Route 28, in Raquette Lake. It provides parking for the trail and guests of Camp Sagamore.

Sargent Pond Loop

photo courtesy of Adinrondack expereince

Sargent Ponds Loop could be either hiked or biked. This 3.5-mile loop takes you through some of the most scenic hiking country in New York State. The first 1/8 mile is along North Point Road but once you leave the road for the Lake Eaton Trail, you won’t see any more roads. The trail passes by Middle Pond and then Lower Sargent Pond before reaching Upper Sargent Pond. There are two lean-tos along the route that are available for backpackers.

If biking, the trail is mostly level and goes through the woods on well-marked paths however there are a few steep grades along the trail.

From Route 28N/30 drive down North Point Road. At the fork in the road, take a left to the trailhead. On the left side of the road, you will see the signs for the trailhead.

Northville/Lake Placid North Trailhead

The Northville Lake Placid Trail is 133 miles (and growing) and offers some of the best hiking trails in Central Adirondacks. this trail follows along footpath that starts in the center of Northville off Route 28N/30, continues through the heart of the Adirondack High Peaks, and ends on Route 73 not far from Lake Placid. The trail is very well marked along most of its length with blue markers on trees marking the route.

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) built the trail to provide recreational access for hikers, hunters, and other outdoor enthusiasts. The trail was created on land that was purchased by ADK in order to protect it from development. You will pass waterfalls, forest and mountain views, and perhaps even a moose or two.

This trail is great for day hikes or can provide a moderate to strenuous 3-day backpacking trip when combined with the Golden Beach Campground, Silver Lake Wilderness Area, and Blueberry Horse Trail.

Trail locations:

Lake Placid – On Route 73, just north of the intersection with Routes 86/41. It’s about 3 miles south of Lake Placid.

Northville – Along Route 28N/30 (Long Lake Road). The trail begins at the north end of Northville village near the intersection with Long Lake Road (Route 28N/30). The trailhead is on the right side of the road, just before the Northville Elementary School.

For more information about hiking this trail visit the website NPTrail

Buttermilk Falls/Forked Lake Road Hike

Buttermilk Falls

Another short fun hike to a lovely waterfall, Buttermilk Falls is a fantastic outdoor activity for visitors and locals alike. The waterfall is not the only thing to do in this area though, as there are several swimming holes along the river, trails to explore, and plenty of picnic spots. The buttermilk falls hike can be done in about 1-1.5 hours round trip depending on the time spent at the falls and the trails that are taken.

You will notice (just a few miles outside of Long Lake) Route 3 on your left-hand side. Follow it two miles to the sign for Buttermilk Falls. There isn’t a parking lot but you can park along the side of the road.

Raquette Falls

Raquette Falls

This hike is 4.4 miles (each way) along the Raquette River Lower Raquette Falls. The Upper Falls is a 1/2 mile further along the trail adding a mile round trip. You can get close to the lower falls with their rushing white water over the rocks. You will need to go up a stone staircase to get to the Upper Falls but you won’t be able to get that close to them.

If you want to make this a backpacking trip there are campsites with lean-tos along the riverbank. In sections, there are also beach-type areas along the river with calmer waters to take a dip on a hot summer day.

You get to the trail from Route 3 between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake. Turn onto Cory Road then keep left. You will see the parking lot on the right side. If you see the sign for Axton Landing you went the wrong way.


If you’re looking for a challenging and exhilarating hike, then the Central Adirondacks of New York might be just what you need. With all sorts of hikes to choose from that will accommodate different skill levels and time constraints, there is something out there for everyone. Whether it’s a family-friendly day hike or an overnight backcountry trip with friends, the above list of best hiking trails in Central Adirondacks should give anyone interested in hiking some great options!

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