We’ve all been there: winter (no matter where you have been) feels like it has stretched on forever. Every day the sun is creeping higher on the horizon and you’re feeling that itch to get out and do something, so I say, “brush that cabin fever away, embrace that springtime feeling and go do it!”
In the spring, no matter what you see on the ground in the Adirondacks — snow, a little mud, green grass — or what kind of precipitation is falling, the sounds and smells of spring will be all around you. But it is because of the fickle weather that you can find trails that are peaceful, quiet, and significantly less crowded than on summer days.
Adirondack weather can be a bit unpredictable in the spring (anywhere from 80 degrees and sunny to full on blizzard conditions) so it’s important to check weather and trail conditions and to be prepared for just about anything. Be sure to plan ahead and bring the proper gear with you on a spring hike! It’s an adventurous time to get out on the trail, and the weather might be warm and sunny in the morning, but can change quickly to cold temperatures and freezing rain. And, of course, don't forget to please abide by Leave No Trace principles!
Here are five suggestions all around the heart of the Adirondacks that cover a variety of spring hiking possibilities. Check the weather forecast and current trail conditions and pick one that works for you!
1. Birding - Inlet - Ferd’s Bog Trail (Easy 0.6 mile round trip)
Part of the Pigeon Lake Wilderness Area, Ferd’s Bog is a great short hike on a boardwalk over Ferd’s Bog. This location is a favorite for birders all season long as it is frequented by gray jays, Nashville parula and palm warblers, as well as olive-sided and yellow-bellied flycatchers. As an added bonus, see how many Adirondack bog trees, shrubs, and wildflowers you can identify: tamarack, bog rosemary, or maybe even a carnivorous pitcher plant. Bring along your binoculars and your favorite birding and bog plant books. Who knows what you might be able to see!
2. Waterfall - Lake Pleasant - Auger Falls (1.25 mile loop)
Springtime can be the perfect time to check out the amazing waterfalls in our area. As the snowpack from winter melts, these sights can be quite spectacular! Just north of where Route 8 meets Route 30 — in the township of Wells — is one of the most ideal spots to observe a spring deluge: Auger Falls. Part of our waterfall challenge, Auger Falls consists of a long series of cascading falls, punctuated by impressive plunges. You can follow a trail along the western bank of the East Sacandaga River, which has a number of great viewing spots. Remember to be careful! There are steep areas along this gorge and in the spring these spots could be very slippery.
3. Low elevation hike - Piseco - Northville-Placid Trail in to Hamilton Lake Stream lean-to (7.4 miles round trip)
In the springtime, it is not unusual to hike a trail with pockets of deep snow still covering the trail. Because of this, it is important to stick to the actual trail, which is marked with Department of Environmental Conservation trail markers. Hiking on the marked trail, in spite of mud or deep snow, preserves the flora alongside the trail and it will help you from losing your way as you hike.
The NPT is a 133-mile trail between Northville and Lake Placid. Along the route, there are a number of access points from major roads. This section of the NPT is an out and back hike.
Park along Route 8 in Piseco and then hike in about 4 miles. This will take you to the lean-to, a cool suspension bridge over Hamilton Lake Stream, and a scenic campsite and picnic spot next to the stream. If it’s early spring, be sure to bring along some snowshoes, even if there’s no snow visible at the Route 8 trailhead. Follow the directions on this link backwards from the 26.6 mile marker to reach Hamilton Lake Stream at the 22.8 mile marker.
4. Loop - Indian Lake - Kings Flow / Puffer Pond loop (full loop is about 5.3 miles)
Feel up to a moderate-length loop hike? Then head to Indian Lake for a hike on the Kings Flow/Puffer Pond loop. Starting at the parking area for Chimney Mountain,* take the loop in a clockwise direction. You’ll hike past Bullhead Mountain, Puffer Pond (and the Puffer Pond lean-to, a great spot for a quick snack break!). The trail then turns north and comes out to a fabulous scenic view of Kings Flow. Continuing north, the trail will lead you back to the grassy parking area where you started your hike. Although there are some climbs along the way, this loop is great family day hike. Make note of this trailhead so you can come back later in the season for a hike up beautiful Chimney Mountain.
*This is an honor system pay to use parking lot — simply pop your $2 fee in the small kiosk.
5. Easy mountain peak - Long Lake - Coney Mountain (0.9 miles to the summit)
I would be remiss if I did not include at least one mountain peak that is easy to get to. After all, if you’re up for the challenge, there’s no reason not to use the spring season to bag another peak! Coney Mountain is not a difficult mountain hike, which means that even families with young children should be able to reach the summit in less than an hour. Once there, take in the view! The spring is a great time to truly enjoy the beautiful panoramic view at the top. The trees may still be bare, allowing you to see for miles, or spring buds may be starting to pop, giving the entire vista a picturesque greenish haze.
No matter where you hike this spring, be sure to complete your day with a stop at one of our nearby restaurants to try out some tasty treats!