Calling all outdoor enthusiasts! Are you interested in exploring breathtaking peaks, sky-scraping fire towers, and stunning waterfalls all within a short drive of Albany and the Capital Region?
You’d be surprised at the opportunities for hiking near Albany – in just over an hour you could be exploring tons of awesome trails and scenic gems with views of the Adirondacks. And if you’re lucky enough to live anywhere near Gloversville, the Great Sacandaga Lake, or Caroga Lake, you’re already in the foothills of the Adirondacks with one of the nation’s best playgrounds right in your backyard.
Use this list to discover some of the best hikes in the Southern Adirondacks and take to the trails with family and friends.
Buck Mountain - Lake George, NY
1 hr 12 min from Albany
Outside of booking a parasailing adventure on the lake, few views of Lake George rival that of Buck Mountain’s peak. This 6-mile round-trip hike is one of the most popular hikes in the Southern Adirondacks and it shouldn’t be a surprise to pull into a packed parking lot. It starts off easy, but a few quick elevation gains will keep your heart-rate up!
📸 Jake Wilde, @wilde_jake
Thomas Mountain Trail - Bolton, NY
1 hr 10 min from Albany
Hikers looking for a quick outing with moderate difficulty in the Lake George area are in luck. Thomas Mountain Trail is a 2 hour round trip with a furnished cabin with incredible views as the turnaround point. It’s only about 1.5 miles from the trailhead to the cabin, so it’s an easy after work hike and a good place to take your kids.
📸 Danielle Elizabeth, @daniellexlovee
Crane Mountain - Johnsburg, NY
1 hr 31 min from Albany
This is one of the rockier hikes on the list, and families with little ones should consider looking elsewhere. With that being said, your average hiker won’t have a problem reaching the summit of this 1.5-mile hike, and there are a few different spots to stop and catch your breath while soaking in views of Crane Pond. If you’re a fisherman, pack a pole! Crane Pond is known to be a productive fishery and the trail follows Putnam Brook for a portion of the hike.
📸 Aaron Polcare, @apvo_
Gurney Lane Recreation Area - Queensbury, NY
54 min from Albany
The Gurney Lane Recreation Area offers people in the Capital District and surrounding areas a chance to enjoy the wilderness a little closer to home. This is much more of a woodland trail system versus your typical mountain hike, but it’s worth mentioning on this list. Roughly 13 miles of mountain bike trails and 3 different trail loops make this 150+ acre recreation area a great option for getting outside. All skill levels can enjoy this one, and if you’re a winter person try cross-country skiing the mellow trails.
Sleeping Beauty - Fort Ann, NY
1 hr 26 min from Albany
Sleeping Beauty is a relaxing hike to a 1,300 ft summit on the eastern side of Lake George. From the trailhead you’ve got a couple of options – the shorter is a 1.8-mile hike to the summit, and the longer is a more scenic 3.9-mile hike that meets a couple of ponds along the way. Looking west from the top you’ll see Lake George in all its glory and to the east, the Adirondack region and a few of the more southern high peaks.
Northville-Placid Trail - Northville, NY
1 hr 19 min from Albany
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least mentioning the Northville-Placid Trail. It’s an incredible 133 miles lightly traveled trail going from – you guessed it – Northville to Lake Placid. For obvious reasons, we don’t recommend attempting the whole thing, although Ryan Wichelns of rootrated.com makes it sound pretty awesome. The first leg of the trail just north of Northville takes you about 7 miles one way into Silver Lake. Though lengthy, is a fairly easy hike, and you can always turn around whenever you feel like it. This southern section is mostly void of any views or picturesque summits, but it’s changing woodland landscapes and easy access are worth the adventure.
Kane Mountain - Caroga Lake, NY
1 hr 16 min from Albany
Just north of Gloversville sits the beautiful Canada and Caroga Lakes. Kane Mountain and the fire tower at the top, make for beautiful 360-degree views of the area. It may only be a half mile hike to the top, it’s fairly steep and climbs about 600 ft along the way. Be sure to take a look at the trailhead marker on the way in because there are two trail options – one takes a bit longer but avoids some of the steeper sections.
📸 Gabby Saulsbery, @keepingsunshine
Shelving Rock Falls - Lake George, NY
1 hr 28 min from Albany
If you’re looking for a great place to hike with a group of friends, look no further. You likely won’t have the trail to yourself – Shelving Rock Falls and the peak of Shelving Rock Summit is a crowd favorite for the Lake George area. It’s about 1.7 miles from the trailhead to the top, and the trails are wide and gradual for the most part making it easy to walk in groups. You’ll find steeper sections as you reach the top, but families don’t seem to have any trouble here. If you make it here, don’t leave without seeing the falls. They’re easy to get to and worth every step.
📸 Jake Wilde, @wilde_jake
Echo Cliffs, Panther Mountain - Piseco, NY
1 hr 48 min from Albany
The hike round trip from Old Piseco Road to the lookout point on Echo Cliffs is less than 2 miles, and it’s by far the best vantage point for Piseco Lake and the Silver Lake Wilderness peaks in the background. It’s a consistent 670 ft climb from road level to the cliffs but never becomes difficult by any standard. There are also a few campgrounds in the area, consider taking the family for the weekend and enjoy the heart of the Southern Adirondacks!
Hadley Mountain - Hadley, NY
1:15 hr from Albany
The fire tower sitting atop Hadley Mountain is well worth the family-friendly 3-mile roundtrip hike. Due to forest fires in the early 1900s, the top of Hadley mountain is mostly open which provides incredible views overlooking the Great Sacandaga Lake. If you can, make the hike to the summit at 2,700 ft on a nice clear day for the chance to see the Catskills, Green Mountains, Berkshires, and Adirondack High Peaks without moving a step.
Good Luck Lake & Good Luck Cliffs - Arietta, NY
1 hr 25 min from Albany
The hike to Good Luck Lake and beyond offers a couple of options depending on how intense you’re looking to get. Don’t let it’s close proximity to Gloversville fool you… This hike is in pure Adirondack territory. The first section is an easy 1.5-mile hike along a fairly well-worn snowmobile trail leading to the scenic Good Luck Lake with primitive camping sites, and it’s also a nice spot to walk a canoe or lightweight kayak into. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, continue ascending about a half mile up Good Luck Mountain. It can be tough in spots, but hikers are rewarded with a cliff-edge view of Spectacle Lake and the rest of the Ferris Lake Wilderness Area.
Spruce Mountain - South Corinth, NY
58 min from Albany
Spruce Mountain in Saratoga County is the second most southern hike to make the list. Less than an hour from Albany and only 2.5 miles to the fire tower at the top of the peak. If you don’t like heights, I’d hike somewhere else. In order to enjoy the view, you have to climb the tower. It’s worth it though, with views into the Adirondack Park to the north and the skyline (however small) of Albany to the south. The trail itself is easy and gives parents a nice place to take their kids on the weekends without spending too much time in the car.
That should get you moving! Take your family or grab some friends and start exploring the beautiful area we have to enjoy so close to home. Before heading out into the mountains, we recommend setting yourself up with the no-reception-needed Adirondack Trail Map app from ADKtrailmap.com since most areas in the Adirondacks have touchy service.
If you’ve got a love for the outdoors and Adirondack living sounds like something you could get used to, click the button below to discover the latest listings for homes both on & off the water all within a short drive of these hikes! Get out there and enjoy the Adirondacks!