I absolutely love the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. The Adirondacks is especially pretty in the fall. The fall leaves in the Adirondacks are absolutely gorgeous. It is so hard to believe that there are mountains this beautiful on the East coast! We have fallen in love with the Adirondacks since living in this part of the country and are sure that you will love it too. Keep reading to see all the best spots to check out fall leaves in the Adirondacks.
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*****Everything in this article is my personal opinion and experiences. Check your own resources and choose to do anything I discuss at your own risk. Some of the things in this post may be dangerous and not recommended for every body.
When is the best time to see fall leaves in the Adirondacks?
While the peak leaf-viewing times slightly differ every year, the peak colors of the Adirondacks tend to be around early October to mid-October depending on the part of the Adirondacks you are visiting and the associated elevation. Check out Visit Adirondacks for updates regarding the specific locations within the Adirondacks. We visited the second weekend of October and had peak leaf colors in most areas we visited.
How to Get to the Adirondacks
The best way to get to the Adirondacks is by car. Going by car is definitely the easiest and best way to see the entire area.
If you don’t have access to a car, the Amtrak train goes up to some parts of the Adirondacks such as Lake George. Amtrak tickets can be purchased on Amtrak’s website.
Also, the Adirondack Regional Airport is located in Saranac Lake, New York if you are interested in flying to the area.
NYC to Adirondacks: 290 miles, 4 hours and 45 minutes
Boston to Adirondacks: 260 miles, 5 hours
Montreal to Adirondacks: 111 miles, 3 hours
Best Places to View the Leaves
Jay Mountain is known for being one of the lesser visited peaks in the Adirondack Mountains. And honestly, I have no clue why. We were blown away by Jay Mountain and it’s beauty. For being a peak in the Adirondack Mountains, it wasn’t very difficult and had a gradual ascension. Jay Mountain is one of the best places to see the leaves due to the multiple 360° views throughout the trail.
For much of the trail, we were in awe of all the beautiful views and brightly colored leaves in every direction. At times, we were standing above the clouds and it even felt like we were on a different planet. The full trail to Jay Mountain is around 8.5 miles, but if you still want to see some views with a shorter hike, the first main overlook (and one of the prettiest) is around 2.2 miles into the trail, making it 4.4 miles round trip for you. Whichever way you choose, you can’t go wrong with visiting Jay Mountain.
For more information on Jay Mountain, check out my blog post all about hiking Jay Mountain!
Mount Joe is in the High Peaks area, but is one of the shortest hikes to a peak. With a short 1.8 mile hike, you can see breath-taking views of the High Peaks Wilderness. The leaves you can see here are vibrant and spread out across the peaks. Since Mount Jo is in the High Peaks Wilderness, which has a higher elevation, the leaves here tend to turn earlier than other leaves in the area.
The hike is short, but very steep, so plan accordingly. Closed toe shoes are definitely recommended on this hike. At the top, you will ascend a stair-like ladder. From the top of Mount Jo, you can see Mount Marcy, New York’s highest point. To visit Mount Jo, park at the High Peaks Wilderness Trailhead parking at the Adirondack Loj. The parking here can be an absolute nightmare, so be sure to either arrive early in the morning or later in the day to be able to get a spot.
***Pro tip: if you go for a sunset hike here and arrive at the trailhead in late afternoon, you won’t have to pay the $15 parking fee and there should be many available parking spots for you. Also the sunset is absolutely gorgeous from the peak of Mount Jo. If you go at this time of day, make sure you have a head lamp with you!
Mirror Lake in Lake Placid
Mirror Lake is located along the main strip in Lake Placid. It is a beautiful lake surrounded by trees and mountains. The lake is very reflective and literally mirrors everything surrounding it. If you’re able, there are several boat rental options that allow you to kayak across the crystal clear water. One of my favorite ways of viewing Mirror Lake is to visit ‘The Coffee Bar’ coffee shop which has a back porch with seats overlooking the the beautiful lake. We sat here with our coffee and bagels, soaking in the fall leaves reflecting off of the lake.
For more information on Lake Placid, check out my blog post all about Lake Placid.
Upper Cascade Lake and Lower Cascade Lake
Upper Cascade Lake absolutely blew us away with the fall foliage. Cascade Road between Lake Placid and Keene runs right beside the Cascade Lakes and we incidentally decided to stop here. Both of the lakes are surrounded by trees and rock cliff faces. Upper Cascade Lake is very calm, which allows the brightly colored leaves to reflect off its surface. The clarity of the leaves’ reflection upon the water was like a mirage.
Also while you’re here, If you look closely on the mountainside between the two lakes, you can catch a glimpse of Cascade Falls tucked in between the trees. To see Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes, there is a roadside pull off about 8l5 miles east of Lake Placid on Cascade Road. There are several parking spaces, picnic tables, and a toilet here.
Chapel Pond is another roadside pull-off on Highway 73 in between Keene Valley and Underwood. Here you will find a calm pond with pine trees and colorful deciduous trees surrounding it. Across the pond from the road, there are cliff faces. If you look carefully, you might just spot a rock climber ascending the cliff face! Kayaking is also a possibility and is absolutely delightful since the water is so calm. Even if you don’t have a kayak, it is a nice place to view the pretty fall leaves and relax.
Indian Head is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places in the Adirondack Mountains. Two mountain-sides converge into a valley that is filled with every shade of orange and yellow possible in the fall months. The hike is 10.8 miles round trip. As of 2021, to park at the trailhead and do the hike, you must have a reservation that can be made online. If you plan on hiking here, be sure to book your reservation early as they fill up very quickly. We personally have not been here, but it is on our Adirondack bucket list. Let us know if you have visited here!
Overall, the Adirondack Mountains is one of the best places on the east coast to enjoy the fall leaves. I hope you are able to see the leaves here sometime!
Have you visited the Adirondacks in the fall? Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments down below!!
Thanks for reading!