As I discussed sharing my first impressions of the Adirondacks, the peace, serenity and stunning natural beauty of this over-sized forest in New York State cannot be disputed.
Adirondacks Park covers 6 million acres. The park is:
- 1/5th the size of England
- 1/11th the size of New Zealand
- 1/3rd the size of Panama
Although 50% of the park is privately owned, most dwellings are small cabins or modest houses surrounded by vast wilderness. Quickly, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere in this eye-opening expanse.
My wife and I spent every day of our trip here hiking in one of the many state parks and local trail heads inside of Adirondack Park.
Every afternoon made for a fun, heart-pumping cardio session dovetailing on serene rides in and out of the park.
Do you plan on hiking in the Adirondacks?
Keep these things in mind.
We have our own ride. Quick drive from New Jersey to the Adirondacks for us. But most travelers will need to rent a car to get around this huge park.
Public transportation is non-existent. The Uber scene is non-existent, save heavier touristed areas. But those spots are few and far between. Flat out, the best way to drive around a place 1/5th the size of England is to rent a car.
Google “car rental adirondacks” based on your location within this mammoth-sized park because only a few well-known rental companies seem to dot the region. If you absolutely refuse to rent a car based on personal preference you can always get a taxi to a cabin in the forest and find suitable hikes within a reasonable distance. Or you can just hike in the forest around your cabin. You’ll have no problem finding less-beaten paths.
Driving is easy-peasy. County roads make for easy access between parks and trail heads. Speed limits top out at 55 MPH. Locals drive respectfully, on the whole. Slow down as you coast through small, sleepy towns. Be aware as the speed limit usually drops to 30 MPH. Almost halving your speed requires mindfulness and a willingness to give your brakes a workout.
Mapping trips seems straightforward enough but note; be prepared to drive 5-10 minutes beyond the destination point to reach the actual trail head. Hearing “you have arrived” via your phone usually means “drive 5-10 more minutes down this gravel road” to reach the trail head.
Some trail heads are located off of paved roads. Others require driving on unpaved, gravel, dirt roads. 4 wheel drive is not necessary but prepare yourself for bumps and slow driving for a wee bit.
I visited during early autumn months. Temperatures? Fabulous. Upper 60’s during the day. Mid 40’s during the evening. But temps drop to below freezing and can range to the mid 80’s during this time frame.
Summer time is in-demand because the elevated, forested climate provides cool relief for people sweltering down south in NYC. Expect to pay more for lodging.
Winter time is sheer paradise in the Adirondacks but know that this region receives ample snow. Getting around proves to be more challenging. Our current location of Gloversville gets about 6 feet of snow each winter. Skiing and snowshoeing are two favorite activities of locals and tourists alike. Snowmobiling also has plenty of fans.
Fall-time feels perfect to me. Ideal temps and both summer and winter crowds subside, making for lovely, quiet hikes in deep, remote forests.
I easily found a wide range of trail heads through Google Maps but trail sites also list fun hikes. Most hikes seem less difficult because paths and markings make for a more seamless walk through the woods. Map out directions before your trip. Reception seems poor once you exit towns. This is a massive, remote wilderness in most spots.
Pace yourself. Most hikes span 3 to 10 miles or more. Give yourself ample time to complete hikes or simply enjoy a few hours in the forest and turn around.
As far as wildlife, New York State is home to 10,000 black bears. Toss in moose, coyotes, foxes, beavers and bobcats and you have a wide range of large mammals in the neighborhood, although encounters are rare. Yep; Sasquatch are here too. Kelli and I heard wood knocks in a remote forest before dusk and I observed large saplings being twisted and torn or yanked out of the ground, feats out of the range of human strength. Again; encounters are incredibly rare but know that the forest people are around.
Sneakers did the trick for most hikes but hardcore hikers likely would bring their hiking boots. The forest feels about 5-10 degrees cooler the more north you drive from the southern gateway at Gloversville. Bundle up a wee bit even if it feels warm and toasty in town. Driving north, moving up a few hundred feet in elevation and being sheltered by a heavy canopy all demand clothing in layers once you exit summer and late spring months.
Bugs did not seem to be a problem during fall but summer months could be brutal as far as insects. Bring a repellent. Pack your sunblock for long hikes moving you away from the forest canopy.
All trail heads provide a sign in form for visitors. Sign in to be tracked in case you get injured or lost. Safety first.
Wrapping it Up
Enjoy your time in this remote wilderness.
NYC tourists note; driving from NYC to the Gloversville, the southern gateway of the Adirondacks, is about 3 and a half hours. Consider spending 3-5 days in this region of Adirondack Park to enjoy the sights and sounds of this mountainous marvel.