Mount Van Hoevenberg is also home of the Olympic bobsled and luge run, which is on the opposite side of the mountain from the hiking trail.
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.
Trailhead: 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. Parking is scarce on South Meadow Road, so we advise parking along Adirondack Loj Road and walking the quarter mile to the trailhead, which is on the left.
Distance: 2.2 miles one way
Elevation: 2,860 feet
Ascent: 740 feet
Winter Overview and Trail Conditions:
From the boulders start snowshoeing up South Meadow Road, you will have to be on the road for about a quarter of a mile. After that quarter mile the trail will be on your left. From the trailhead start a hike along what looks to be an old road, now overgrown to the width of a foot trail. The trail will gently descend to a beaver swamp. The trail has been rerouted to the left which is an obvious route. The reroute follows the side of the marsh and eventually crosses at the bottom of it, even with snow, the brook crossing can be wet. After a couple small brook crossings the trail continues straight and quite flat for about a tenth of a mile. Soon the trail becomes very pleasant through an open hardwood forest and soon begins to climb moderately. After swinging right and then through an attractive draw between rocky areas you will make the final approach to the summit.
The first view you come to is not the summit, just beyond is the true summit and the best viewing platform. You will be atop a rocky ledge with the High Peaks Region right in front of you. This is one of the best views in the area and in the summer can be very busy, but now, in winter, it does get as much traffic; you may have the entire top to yourself.
Distance Round Trip:
From the intersection of Route 86 and Route 73 in Lake Placid, follow Route 73 toward Keene. Continue for 4-miles to the Adirondack Loj Road on the right. Follow here for around 2-miles to South Meadow Road on the left, park near the boulder blocking the road.
Difficulty: 1=easiest, 5=hardest
Two; longer distances and steady climbing make this a two.
Additional Important Information:
South Meadow Road is closed in the winter; it will require you to hike the first quarter mile
Find out more
Read the blog, Henry Van Hoevenberg and Early Hiking Trails.