Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs are two low summits within the private land of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR). The trails to these summits are open to the public by virtue of a hiking easement, but there is a long approach via a dirt road and dogs are absolutely prohibited in this game preserve. However, the views are among the best in the Adirondacks.
How to get there
This is part of the St Huberts parking area/trailhead. Leave Lake Placid on Route 73, follow Route 73 through Keene and Keene Valley and into Saint Huberts. Parking is across the road from the Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead for Giant Mountain. Parking is monitored by the AMR. Please be sure to follow all rules so that hikers can continue to enjoy access to these lands.
By the numbers
- Distance: 10.4 miles as a loop
- Indian Head elevation: 2700 feet
- Fish Hawk Cliffs elevation: 2600 feet
- Elevation gain: approximately 750 feet from the Lake Road
If climbing these two areas with children, be very aware that there is potential danger from sheer cliffs and steep drop-offs.
The views of the Ausable lakes from these two spots are outstanding. The best way to enjoy the hike is to do a loop out of the available trails and open up the opportunity to see the numerous waterfalls of Gill Brook on the way out. This hike can be a bit demanding to some, mainly due to its length. So, if you plan on bringing kids along, consider their ability to do long days in the woods. While some areas are steep for short pitches, the distance traveled may be more of a deciding factor.
The hike starts along a dirt road, which becomes paved next to a golf course. At 0.5 miles from the parking area, turn left and down between two tennis courts on Lake Road Way to a gate house and register just before a fancy wooden gate. Then continue past the gate and along the Lake Road for an additional 3+ miles before you enter a foot trail. (The other signs for Indian Head are for your return route.) The foot trail starts off at the top of the last hill along Lake Road before you descend down to Lower Ausable Lake and a boathouse.
The trail starts out flat as it approaches what is called the “Gothics Window,” which is a viewing area of Gothics through the trees. Past here you will climb steady to steep terrain, using a ladder in one area. At the top of the ridge (0.8 miles from the Lake Road) is a junction. At right is the short walk to Indian Head. Straight ahead is the route to Fish Hawk Cliffs. To the left is a shorter route to Gill Brook and the return.
From the top of Indian Head you will descend steeply and then climb to the top of Fish Hawk Cliffs about 0.25 miles away. Here you will see the “Indian Head.”
If you continue over the top of Fish Hawk Cliffs the trail will bring you to the Gill Brook Trail which you will follow back to the Lake Road. The Gill Brook Trail gives a nice helping of waterfalls and cascades to please the eyes and ears. You will be back at the Lake Road a bit closer to your car than when you left it.
These two locations make fine winter destinations, but visitors should aware of varying temperatures, snowpack, and Lake Road conditions. Cross-country skiing is permissible on Lake Road, along with snowshoeing. Parking is available in the lot close to Route 73, as it is in summer. Keep in mind that Lake Road may be icy and some of the steeper parts of the footpath may be as well.