The Adirondack High Peaks

The Adirondack Mountains contain some of the most rugged, remote, and wild terrain in the Eastern United States. And within this vast wilderness rise 46 majestic peaks over 4,000 feet. Known as the High Peaks, these towering summits have been luring hikers to northern New York for over a century. Today, experienced outdoor enthusiasts flock to the Adirondacks seeking thrilling adventures and sweeping vistas along the scenic trails to the tops of these celebrated mountains. If you’re considering buying a home in Lake Placid or any of the nearby communities, know that the ADK lifestyle is about more than leisure on the lake – we’re an adventurous bunch.

The Pursuit of the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks

For many hikers, the ultimate quest in the Adirondacks is to climb each of the 46 High Peaks. Those who complete this ambitious mountaineering challenge join the ranks of the legendary “46ers.” The exclusive club formed in 1925 boasts over 10,000 members to date. While most members worked for decades to finish the list, some exceptional athletes have managed to summit all 46 High Peaks in less than a week! 

The 46 High Peaks range from 4,000 feet at the lowest (Sawteeth Peak) up to 5,344 feet at the highest (Mount Marcy). Mount Marcy reigns supreme not only in the Adirondacks but in the entire state of New York. Other notable peaks include Algonquin Peak (second highest), Mount Haystack, Whiteface Mountain, and Giant Mountain.

The remote range comprises peaks with colorful names that hint at their personalities. You can scramble up Rocky Peak Ridge, Nippletop, Big Slide Mountain, Gothics, Saddleback, and Redfield. Or challenge yourself on the Great Range with Marcy, Haystack, Skylight, and Gray.

Choose Your Adventure: The Most Popular ADK High Peaks

With 46 summits to choose from, where should beginners start? While every peak offers a memorable experience, some see more foot traffic due to their accessibility, scenery, and history. Here are 7 must-do hikes to kickstart your High Peaks adventure:

  • Cascade Mountain – One of the most popular “first peaks,” Cascade boasts scenic waterfalls and views just a short 2.9 miles from the trailhead.
  • Giant Mountain – Enjoy panoramic vistas of the High Peaks wilderness from Giant’s bald summit after a moderate 6.6 mile roundtrip.
  • Mount Marcy – Trek 14 invigorating miles to the top of New York’s highest peak standing tall at 5,344 feet.
  • Algonquin Peak – A steep 5.2 mile trail leads to the second highest peak in New York with views of Avalanche Lake.  
  • Mount Colden – Hike through the former worksites of trailblazer Bob Marshall to appreciate Marshall’s lasting impact.
  • Pitchoff Mountain – Enjoy sheer cliffs and a breathtaking vertical view from this easily accessible peak near Lake Placid.
  • Phelps Mountain – A relatively short but steep hike up leads to open summits with views of the Great Range peaks.

Gear Up and Plan Ahead – Hiking the Adirondack High Peaks

Don’t let the modest elevations of the High Peaks fool you; these are serious mountains requiring proper preparation. Pack the essentials, wear sturdy hiking boots, and check the forecast before heading out. Many peaks also require climbing gear for exposed rock scrambles. And be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles to preserve the environment.

With its remote terrain and fickle weather, the Adirondack backcountry can be unforgiving. But with careful trip planning and preparedness, the High Peaks reward hikers with alpine glory. Once you embark on these heights, you’ll understand the siren call that has been drawing people to climb these mountains for over a century.

Ready to answer the call of the peaks? Contact Merrill L. Thomas, Inc. to find the perfect estate or land in the Adirondacks to launch your High Peaks adventures. With ideal proximity to trailheads, our listings will enable you to easily access these storied summits. Claim your own piece of paradise in the Adirondack wilderness.

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