4 Beginner #ADKCoast Day Hikes + What to Know Before Hitting the Trails

September 3, 2019

Empowering you to exercise, re-charge, de-stress and socialize, all while enjoying nature, there are plenty of benefits that come along with hiking. As one of the Adirondack Coast’s most popular outdoor activities, it makes sense why visitors continue to dedicate hard-earned vacation time to this natural mode of exploration!

Maybe, like me, you’re someone who’s super into the idea of hiking, but is a little intimidated when it comes to the logistics of actually hitting the trails.

Why, specifically? Well, let me count the ways… animals, bugs, getting lost, falling behind, having the wrong equipment,not having wi-fi access, lookin’ a fool in front of people who know what they're doing, sweating… oh, I don’t know… heights!?

But, luckily, if you or any of your travel buddies have been nursing these hiking anxieties, you can rest assured, most are avoidable with some planning. Hikers of all ages and levels can gain full access to expansive views and wildlife in action when they escape to the Adirondack Coast. The distances, ascents and elevations of most of our hikes are ideal for travelers seeking an ease into this regional pastime or an alternative to the Adirondack High Peaks. (Hey, if it was easy, we’d all be 46’ers - heck, winter 46’ers.)

Short distances, slightly elevated lands and easily navigable trails are ideal starting points for beginner hikers - and, on the Adirondack Coast, there are plenty to check out.

Where to go:

Point Au Roche State Park | 19 Camp Red Cloud Road, Plattsburgh, NY  

With its combination of both forested and open areas, lake views at Point Au Roche State Park are abundant, not to mention easily accessible for a post-hike dip. Visitors can explore 15+ miles of marked trails by foot, winding through a range of wildlife habitats, including forest, marsh and shoreline, many allowing for wheel chair and/or stroller access. Settle in for an extended adventure when you book a stay nearby at Point Au Roche Lodge, just outside the park’s entrance - pets welcome!

Views from the trails at Point au Roche State Park (Photo by Karen Billings)

Silver Lake Mountain | Silver Lake Mountain Trail, Au Sable Forks, NY

Being careful and quiet are two skills you’ll learn exploring Silver Lake Mountain’s natural,rocky landscape on this 1.8-mile round-trip hike traveling through bog, swamp,forest and ridge habitats. Venture to the summit, and you’ll be rewarded with shimmering views of Silver Lake, Taylor Pond, Whiteface Mountain and maybe even a rare boreal bird or two! You’ll definitely want to pack your binoculars for this one.

View from the top of Silver Lake Mountain in Black Brook, New York.

Ausable Chasm | 2144 Route 9, Ausable Chasm, NY

With 5 miles of scenic trails leading to breathtaking Rainbow Falls and other spectacular scenes, Ausable Chasm is often called “The Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks”. As one of the oldest natural attractions in the United States, the chasm’s uniquely carved rocks have drawn more than 10 million visitors since the 1870s! Well-maintained and mostly self-guided, hikers can learn about the specific wildlife living here and historic rock formations through interpretive signage.Visitors can even customize their hikes, choosing elements of difficulty, from distance to views and everything in between. General admission will get you access to the trails, but their convenient adventure packages allow visitors to experience the chasm’s varied recreation opportunities beyond hiking, like tubing, rafting, and even rappelling and rock climbing. A great choice for both beginner families and independent thrill-seekers!

View of Ausable Chasm Bridge from one of the trail walks offered at Ausable Chasm.

Lyon Mountain | Lowenburg Rd, Lyon Mountain, NY

With its iconic 35-foot firepower and enduring 360-degree views of Montreal, Vermont, and the high peaks, this climb is 3,830 feet - the highest point on the Adirondack Coast. If you’re a beginner, this is the hike to work towards. A fun fact: Lyon Mountain is technically taller than some of the traditional peaks, not all of which -- plot twist -- actually reach their claimed elevation of 4,000 feet or higher. There’s a spring at the top of Lyon Mountain, known to make parts of the rugged and narrow climb on the older trails a bit muddy, so be sure to dress accordingly.

Views from the top of Lyon Mountain.

What to know:

Health & Safety

  • As you plan your getaway, familiarize yourself with NY State Land Camping and Hiking Rules. As in all of our statewide public lands, friendly hikers follow “Leave No Trace” guidelines, meaning what goes in must come out. And remember: touching or building cairns is a no, no. Adhering to this framework helps keep the land safe and beautiful for its inhabitants and other visitors. You can learn more about this regional initiative here.
  • Enthusiasts like Phillip Werner from sectionhiker.com recommend hikers drink one liter for every 2 hours on the trail. A water bottle works just fine,but if you’re feeling particularly fancy, you can upgrade to a water bladder(sometimes called a reservoir), which will minimize frequent water breaks,helping to increase endurance. On a less competitive note, these are also helpful to have around for kids (or klutzy adults… guilty). You know, to avoid spilling the precious water supply.
  • Bug spray, or your trusted essential oils brew, should always be on hand when hiking during warmer months. If you’re planning to hike in a more populated spot, you’ll find insect repellent is a must.
  • This one is a given for all outdoor adventures, but often what we forget first! Bring along your sun protection - sunscreen, sunglasses,hat, etc.

Clothes & Gear

  • You’ll want to tuck all the above-mentioned items away in a handy backpack. Opt for one with a side pocket -- this way you have easy access to your water.
  • Like in most Adirondack Coast adventures, a comfy pair of sneakers will carry you through a day hike. If you’re one of those uber-committed folks who went for the water bladder, you might also be into hiking shoes. Whatever footwear you choose, hikers across the board should guard against blisters. Some hikers argue that cotton socks are worse than no socks. Try wool instead of cotton for a more moisture-resistant option.
  • Rock layers to help you adjust to the weather,especially in spring and fall, when it’s a little less predictable and buggy.If it happens to be mosquito season, tuck those pants into your socks! For warmer months, when you know you’re likely to break a sweat, give moisture-resistant athletic tops and bottoms a try.

So, who’s ready for an intense climb? Or a leisurely stroll? Whatever path or pace you choose, enjoy the journey - and be on the lookout for the next adventure. It’s never too far off. Book your ADK Coast hiking getaway today!

Alina Walentowicz

Alina Walentowicz is "The Write Stuff", an award-winning writer and content creator ready to bring your web presence to the next level. A storyteller at heart, Alina combines a range of writing tools and collaborative experiences to help small businesses embrace their growth potential online. With a B.A. in English Writing Arts and Literature from SUNY Plattsburgh (2015) and 4+ years of experience in blogging and digital content creation, she provides writing, editing, and visual content services including blogs, web pages, social media posts, and more. When she's not clicking away at her keyboard, she's living life (and so should you!). Some of her favorite things to do on the Adirondack Coast include: catching a show at The Strand Theatre, overindulging in Wing Night at Monopole, and challenging herself just enough each summer on a few friendly hikes and paddles with pretty spectacular views. Know a good story that needs telling online? Hit her up at alinawalentowicz@gmail.com.

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