Jay Mountain is an absolutely gorgeous hike in the Adirondacks. It is in the Jay Mountain Wilderness of the Adirondacks that is often less visited than other more popular areas such as the High Peaks Wilderness. We hiked Jay Mountain in the fall and the leaves were amazing and in a million different colors. There are so many beautiful views from the Jay Mountain trail. Jay Mountain is our favorite hike in the Adirondack Mountains.
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Where is Jay Mountain?
Jay Mountain is located in the Jay Mountain Wilderness in the northeastern part of the Adirondacks. It is around 5 hours from New York City and around 2 hours from Montreal, Canada.
How to Get to Jay Mountain
The best way to get to Jay Mountain is by car. There is a small parking area at the trailhead as well as space to park along the road (as of late 2021). Parking is free and no passes are needed in order to park at the trailhead.
Where to Stay Near Jay Mountain
There are several options for staying near Jay Mountain. Some of the closest options for staying near the Jay Mountain Trailhead are Airbnb’s. We stayed at the Ice Jam Inn which we rented a room from through Airbnb and it was only minutes from the trailhead. We enjoyed our stay at the Ice Jam Inn and it was all themed for the Adirondacks. They have a cute front porch sitting area and we wish we could have stayed longer to enjoy the outdoor area. There are other Airbnb’s in the area as well.
There are several campgrounds close to the Jay Mountain Wilderness such as the Wilmington/North Pole KOA Holiday Campground
Also, if you were wanting to stay in a larger town or a hotel with facilities, Lake Placid is about 30 minutes away from the trailhead and has more lodging options. For options in Lake Placid, check out my Lake Placid Blog Post:
The Hike to Jay Mountain Summit
The main trail to Jay Mountain is around 8.5 miles with 2,400 feet of elevation gain. AllTrails lists the trail as around 7 miles, but if you go all the way to the summit of Jay Mountain, it will be 8.5 round trip. It is an out and back trail with many viewpoints along the way. Even though this trail is out and back, to me it felt like a different trail in each direction because of all of the different views.
We started the hike early in the morning, before the sun had started to rise. We could see the sky filled with stars above. Twinkling in between the tree branches. We walked in the dark with headlamps on and the sun slowly started to rise.
The first part of the trail is mainly through the forest and gradually climbs uphill. We climbed up and up as the sky became lighter and lighter. We reached the first overlook around the same time that the sun peeked over the horizon. The first viewpoint is about 2 miles into the trail. Here there is around 270 degree view of the area. You can see Whiteface Mountain to the west of here. The views are especially pretty in the fall.
Next, you can continue on the trail. From here, the trail is mostly out of the forest and on an exposed ridge. It is also relatively flat with only gentle inclines from here. If you have trouble finding the trail, like we did a few times, be on the lookout for rock cairns (little stacks of rocks) to mark the way.
Along the hike there are many places to sit, watch the view, and enjoy a snack or picnic lunch. We spent a lot of our time on this hike admiring the view. The views made it one of our favorite hikes that we have done in the Adirondacks.
When you are almost to the summit of Jay Mountain, you will see the peak and will have to go slightly down a rocky area before heading back up for the final little bit. While we were happy to have made it to the top of Jay Mountain, the prettiest views were definitely not from the peak, but rather from the various viewpoints along the trail. The best viewpoints are from the false summit of Jay Mountain and the first viewpoint of the hike.
Once you reach the top of Jay Mountain, you can turn around and head back on the same trail you arrived on. Soak in all the views from the other direction.
Gear to Bring on Your Hike
Since this hike is over 8 miles, it is definitely important that you bring some water with you on what hike. Use any water bottle you have, but if you are in need of a new water bottle, we love Nalgene water bottles like this one on Amazon: https://amzn.to/44fulic
Be sure to have a snack with you on the hike. Any snack will do, but some snacks are definitely easier than others. Things like granola bars, fruit snacks, or little boxes of raisins make for easy snacks to bring. We especially like these Clif bars which you can find on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/44mg9Uw
Map or Navigation System
For all hikes, but Jay Mountain specifically, it is good to have a map with you in some aspect. You can buy waterproof maps in some places, but we prefer using the app AllTrails on our phone to help us navigate. While using AllTrails isn’t a substitute for a hard copy of a map or a GPS device, it can be great for keeping track of the trail and where you are.
Since you need at least some water and snacks with you at the least (and preferably more things such a first aid kit and extra clothes for changes in weather), you will need something to carry your things. I am a big advocate for using what you already have, so use a backpack that you already have. If you are in need of a new backpack, I recommend something with comfortable shoulder straps and a nice hip belt, even like this affordable backpack on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3srGOSy
Jay Mountain is seriously one our favorite hikes that we have done in the Adirondack Mountains (and the Northeast United States)! I hope you’re able to hike it someday and that this guide helps you get there!
Thanks for reading!