There are two approaches to this awesome mountain. Both offer fine trails and lead to excellent views. Mount Van Hoevenberg is one of the Lake Placid 9er mountains.
How to get there
From South Meadow: From the intersection of Route 86 and Route 73 in Lake Placid, follow Route 73 east toward Keene. Continue for 3.3 miles and turn right on Adirondack Loj Road. Follow that for almost 4 miles to South Meadow Road on the left. The trailhead is just up South Meadow Road from here. There is a small parking area at the trailhead and vehicles are also permitted to park along South Meadow Road. In winter, South Meadow Road is closed, so parking is limited to a few spots at the start of the road.
From the Bobsled Run: The trail begins at the Olympic Sports Complex.
Both trails offer unique paths to the summit of Mount Van Hoevenberg!
Trail from the Olympic Sports Complex (East Trail)
- Distance: 1.7 miles, one way
- Elevation: 2,860 feet
- Ascent: 920 feet
This is one of the newest trails in the Adirondacks! It was opened to the public in October 2018 and is a model for sustainable trail design. Finding the trailhead can be a little tricky at the new Olympic and hiking center. From the parking lot, go through the gate and look left for a blue sign. (This is not the traditional brown and yellow DEC trail sign, but a blue ORDA sign.) Walk toward the old bobsled run. From there, you'll find the trailhead and register. Hikers begin a gentle climb to one of the finest views of the High Peaks after signing in. Switchbacks are used throughout the trail so that the climb is never very steep as it meanders through the woods. Thanks to sustainable design, hard work, and trail maintenance, it's easy to spend time concentrating on the journey and not worrying about tripping over roots. In the spring, you'll see tons of bright wildflowers. The hardened trail is easy on the knees, with the grade never exceeding 12%. Around 2/3 of the way to the summit, a hard cluster of boulders and rocks make for an interesting break spot. Notice the delicate mosses and ferns! It gets a little steeper after this section, but the 180-degree panoramic views from the summit await ahead!
The East Trail to Mt Van Hoevenberg is the best short hike in the area, given the new state-of-the-art trail design. There is also plenty of parking, with ease of access to the trailhead, and full services available (including restrooms and a cafe). As a bonus, the parking lot has EV charging stations available so you can charge while you hike!
Trail from South Meadow (West Trail)
- Distance: 2.2 miles, one way
- Elevation: 2,860 feet
- Ascent: 740 feet
The path leaves the trailhead and remains mostly level until it gradually descends to a large, scenic beaver pond. Take a minute to enjoy the view — birds love this area and your destination is straight ahead, rising above the opposite shore. Bear left and follow the edge of the pond as it curves around the pond's outlet, where a series of beaver dams can be seen to the right. It can be pretty wet here, so take your time.
As the path leaves the pond it begins to ascend through a beautiful hardwood forest as it climbs toward Van Hoevenberg's ridge. There are some steep sections before reaching a rugged, level stretch at 1.6 miles. After passing between two cliffs, the trail swings right and steeply ascends the mountain's western ridge, which it follows as it dips up and down before reaching a series of ledges that afford stunning 180-degree views of High Peaks like Marcy and Algonquin, with the expanse of South Meadow far in the valley below. The first couple of ledges offer the best views, but the ridge can be followed further for different perspectives of the surrounding mountains.
South Meadow Road is closed in the winter, so you will be required to hike an additional .25- miles to the trailhead. Begin your winter snowshoe trek at the boulders at the start of South Meadow Road. This is one of the best views in the area and in the summer can be very busy, but now, in winter, it doesn't get as much traffic; you may have the entire top to yourself.