Five big views for little effort

There aren’t many places where you can get a big payoff from a small investment — luckily, Lake Placid isn’t most places. Sure, the High Peaks offer some of the most outstanding views anywhere, but they also take the better part of a day to hike. Try one of these easier hikes, and use that extra energy to explore downtown.

1. Cobble Lookout

Take a trip to the other side of Whiteface Mountain. This trail started as a well-kept local secret, now it’s a must-do — well marked, well maintained, and awesome in the view department. The path goes gently uphill past an old quarry, then climbs to a broad rock shelf about a half mile from the trailhead. After that the path is gently rolling to the large ledge, where there are outstanding views of nearby Whiteface and Esther mountains and other High Peaks to the south.

Get there: Follow Route 86 east into Wilmington, then turn left onto Route 431 at the four corners. Follow Route 431 for 3 miles. At the three-way intersection with the Whiteface Memorial Highway, bear right on Gillespie Drive (county Route 18A on some maps). Continue for 0.3 mile to the trailhead and parking area on the right, just past Lake Stevens.

Hike stats

Distance: 1.1 miles to the lookout

Elevation: 2,600 feet

 

2. Baxter Mountain

This is a short hike up a small mountain that’s home to some of the biggest views around.

The trail begins at a moderate grade and, thanks to a relatively new set of switchbacks, never gets too steep. You’ll cross under a power line before beginning a climb that ends with a level stretch, which is followed by a right turn and a series of short climbs to the scenic southeast summit at 1.2 miles. Continue for another 0.1 mile to more views from the northwest summit.

Get there: Take Route 73 west from Lake Placid and turn left on Route 9N, toward Elizabethtown. The trailhead is 2 miles after the turn, at the top of the hill.

Hike stats

Distance: 1.2 miles to the summit

Elevation: 2,440 feet

Ascent: 770 feet

 

3. Balanced Rocks on Pitchoff Mountain

Just across the road from the popular Cascade Mountain, the Balanced Rocks on Pitchoff offer a less crowded experience with excellent views and a pair of enormous boulders.

The trail climbs immediately from the trailhead, then reaches an easy stretch along a short ridge before swinging left and charging steeply up. There’s a dip — that’s the summit up ahead, through the canopy — before the climbing resumes. Take note that there are several side trails along the way; just bear left to stay on the main path. At the T-intersection, turn right to continue for the final 0.1 mile to the Balanced Rocks. Left goes 0.5 mile to the summit.

Get there: From the intersection of Route 73 and Route 86 in Lake Placid, follow Route 73 toward Keene. Continue on Route 73 for 7.5 miles to the Pitchoff West Trail.

Hike stats

Distance: 1.6 miles to the rocks

Elevation: 2,990 feet

Ascent: 850 feet

 

4. Heaven Hill Trails

It’s called Heaven Hill for a reason — the 4 miles of trails here are easy and the scenery unparalleled. Take a short drive from downtown to Bear Cub Lane and park in the large parking area. From there you’ll have a bunch of options, but we recommend heading left and linking up with the Orchard Loop Trail. It’s a pleasant walk through the woods that ends with an outstanding view of the High Peaks from an overgrown orchard. Loop through the meadow and look for birds and other frolicking animals before returning.


Get there: Turn onto Cummins Road, which is next to the Olympic Speedskating Oval on Main Street in Lake Placid. Turn left on Wesvalley Road, right on Mill Pond Drive, then left on Old Military Turnpike. Follow that for 1.5 miles and turn right on Bear Cub Lane. Follow this road for 2.2 miles — the parking area is on the right, shortly after the road makes a hard right turn.

Hike stats

Distance: 1.4 miles to the orchard

Elevation: 2,050 feet

Ascent: minimal

 

5. Whiteface Landing

A long, gentle walk that ends with a dive off a dock? Sign us up! Take in the view from Connery Pond — just be sure to stay on the trail to avoid private property — then duck back into the woods for a moderate climb away from the water. The trail becomes a relatively flat, gravel-strewn road as it approaches Lake Placid lake. At the intersection, turn left and make the short walk to Whiteface Landing, which is an awesome spot for swimming, picnicking, and lounging. Right goes to the summit, a long, strenuous hike.

Get there: Follow Route 86 east toward Wilmington, then turn left onto Connery Pond Road. Follow this dirt road to the yellow gate and park here, being sure not to block the gate. This is the trailhead.

Hike stats

Distance: 2.5 miles to Whiteface Landing

Elevation: 1.860 feet

Ascent: 195 feet


There's nothing like a good meal after a good hike. Head into town for dinner, then relax with a craft beer or some entertainment — you've earned it!


This week in related ADK exploring:
A day with birds
There's still time!
Dip your hooves
Small-town fun
Les oiseaux de Le Chute
All 4 Schroon
Rockin' Pourman's

Comments

Hiking for Senior Citizens

Our Senior Citizen Hiking Club did a 4-day stay in Lake Placid several years ago but found the hiking too difficult. Evidently, this was due to using a guidebook which offered few short hikes. The hikes described in this article appear to be more in line with what we could handle. Maybe I'll plan another trip up that way (we are from Central Jersey) and take advantage of this information.

Baxter Mtn

I have knee issues and found this climb to be rigorous. I'm interested in the other ones, to see how they'd be.
Thanks!

Sleeping Beauty should

Sleeping Beauty should definitely be #1 on this list. the short 2.8 mile, easy-moderate rated hike can be climbed in 1.5-2 hours and has a FANTASTIC view of Lake George and surrounding mountains. I've done this hike 4 times in the past 2 years and the view never gets old

ADK guidebooks

Most guidebooks are written by Very proficient hikers, and are used by people who aren't. Land navigation is a learned skill, & like any must be practiced- OFTEN. When you factor in verticals, & wet &muddy conditions, a lot of hikers are quickly at or beyond their level of comfort. The daks are a magnificent area & should be explored with the proper prep & care

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