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Our Favorite Shoulder Season Hikes: High Peaks Region

Our Favorite Shoulder Season Hikes: High Peaks Region

It’s shoulder season in the Adirondack High Peaks region. That means winter conditions at higher elevations, especially thin, dangerous ice. One of the best ways to stay safe during shoulder season is to stick to trails at lower elevations, which will have less ice and drier trails. Here are five shoulder season hikes that our staff enjoy during this transitional time of year.

All distance mileages are round-trip.


Starting from 9N, Baxter features a short, but gradual climb with switchbacks. You can see the Johns Brook Valley and many of the Great Range peaks that line it from the summit. This is a great way to take in views of snow-capped high peaks without having to worry about icy conditions.

Baxter Mountain, Hammond Pond Wild Forest
2.5 miles (800ft elevation gain) from State Highway 9N

Baxter Mountain Patch

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

6 mile loop (1400ft elevation gain) from O’Toole Road Parking Area

A low-elevation hike with ridge walking? You bet. The Nun-da-ga-o Ridge (also known as the Soda Range) trail dips and rises through a series of low ridges that offer great views of neighboring Hurricane Mountain. At the base of the ridge is Lost Pond, which has a secluded lean-to not far from the water’s edge.

Note: this trail is mostly unmarked. If you are uncomfortable following a herd path, we suggest checking out one of the other hikes on this list or finding a hiking partner who knows the route.


Giant Mountain and Green Mountain as seen from Owls Head Lookout
Ben Brosseau

Owls Head Lookout, Giant Mountain Wilderness

5 miles (1200ft elevation gain) from State Highway 9N

Located close to Elizabethtown, Owls Head Lookout (not to be mistaken with Owls Head on Route 73 near Keene) is a gradual, wooded hike to an open cliff with views of the north side of Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge. This is a rarely-visited peak that is excellent in all seasons.


Snow Mountain, High Peaks Wilderness

4.4 miles from Rooster Comb trailhead (1400ft elevation gain); 3 miles from Deer Brook trailhead (1200ft elevation gain)

A personal favorite of our High Peaks Information Center staff, Snow Mountain is one of the best bang-for-your-buck hikes in the area. Taking you through deciduous forests, this trail finishes with a short, but steep climb, to one of the best views of Giant Mountain in the area. The Deer Brook approach also has pleasant water features that add to the experience.


Our Cascade Welcome Center and High Peaks Information Center staffs have up-to-date trail conditions and can help you determine the safest and most enjoyable options for hiking in the area.

You can reach Cascade Welcome Center at 518-837-5047 or cascade@adk.org.

The High Peaks Information Center can be reached at 518-523-3441 or at hpic@adk.org.

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