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Michaella Sheridan | 06.30.2017

As if having the largest city in the country wasn't enough, New York is also home to the largest protected natural area in the contiguous United States. Spanning an incredible 6 million acres, the Adirondacks is an adventurer's dream with dozens of high, rocky peaks, miles of flowing waters, and seemingly endless wilderness. 

With free access to this outdoor playground, the Adirondacks is a popular destination in just about every season. Strap on your boots to ascend the towering mountains within the Park's High Peaks Wilderness area and pack your swimming suit to bask in the secluded waterfalls and river trails that hide beneath the mountain ranges. 

The Adirondacks has so many hikes, it was hard to choose our favorites. While not comprehensive, this list has a hike for every adventure. Whether you're looking to tackle 4,000 footers, chase waterfalls, or just go on a short nature walk, we've got you covered. 

Bald Mountain and Rondaxe Fire Tower: 1.7 miles, 500 feet net elevation gain. This popular out-and-back hike offers a short and steep scramble to incredible views. The accessible mountaintop fire tower is topped with a cabin that's perfect for watching a sunrise or sunset. 

Stone Valley Recreation Area: 12 miles (full loop), 294 feet net elevation gain. The winding trails at Stone Valley follow the raging Raquette River. You'll weave in and out of the forest, catching views of renowned rapids and cascading waterfalls along the way. While swimming is forbidden in the river, this is a popular spot for kayakers. 

Chimney Mountain: 2.20 miles, 2,700 feet net elevation gain. Visit this popular mountain and the incredible chimney-shaped rock structure that sits at the summit. Halfway through the short hike up or down, veer off the trail to explore the small caves that are hidden on the side of the mountain. 

Mount Marcy via the Van Hoevenberg Trail: 15.40 miles, 3,149 feet net elevation gain. Reach Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York, via this challenging and popular hike. This hike is a New York staple and features a historic dam and incredible views of waterfalls, valleys, and neighboring mountains and hills.  

Mount Marcy, Mount Skylight and Gray Peak Loop: 18.40 miles, 3,178 feet net elevation gain. This slightly longer approach to Mount Marcy offers less crowds and more peaks. Once you've soaked up the sweeping views from the top of Mount Marcy, follow the lasso loop to two other 4,000 footers: Mount Skylight and Gray Peak. 

Mount Arab Hike: 1 mile, 700 feet net elevation gain. Short and moderately steep, this hike is great for families. At the top, enjoy sweeping views of surrounding lakes and reservoirs and explore a historic fire tower and museum.

Roaring Brook Falls: 1.6 miles, 384 feet net elevation gain. For a quick waterfall fix, take a short jaunt to the bottom of this cascade. To reach the top, follow a trail along the face of the falls. At the top you'll find a primitive camping site, an excellent overlook, and a small swimming hole further upstream. 

The MacIntyre Range Hike: 14 miles, 4,660 feet net elevation gain. Hikers seeking a challenging chance to bag three 4,000 footers at once will love this route. As you traverse the open, rocky summits of three mountains within the MacIntyre Range, discover unimpaired views of the Adirondacks and the remaining pieces of a B-47 bomber that crashed into the range in 1962 

Rainbow Falls: 9.4 miles, 1,017 feet net elevation gain. Located within the Adirondack Mountain Reserve land, this hike to a unique waterfall has some restrictions, but it is well worth the effort. Parking about 0.5 miles from the trailhead and leaving your dog at home means you'll be able to access a spectacular shower in the middle of the forest. 

Haystack, Basin and Saddleback Mountain Lasso Loop: 18.5 miles, 3,385 feet net elevation gain. This rewarding route allows hikers to see the world from atop three mountains in the heart of New York's High Peaks Wilderness. Along the way you'll enjoy views of neighboring mountains, Marcy and Skylight. This long trek can be done in one day, but multiple lodging and free camping sites are along the way. 

Noonmark Mountain: 4.8 miles, 3,543 feet net elevation gain. Brave this steep ascent for unparalleled views of New York's Great Range, Giant Mountain, and Keene Valley. The relentlessly steep incline keeps the crowds at bay, so this is the perfect place to enjoy the Adirondacks in peace. 

Echo Cliffs: 1.4 miles, 668 feet net elevation gain. With an unmarked parking area and an unassuming trailhead, this hike is free from crowds but full of great climbing and expansive views of nearby Lake Piseco and the southern Adirondacks. In the fall, follow this trail to the shoulder of Panther Mountain or exceptional leaf-peeping. 

Cascade and Porter Mountains: 5.6 miles, 1,940 feet net elevation gain. With its undeniably gorgeous views and close proximity to Lake Placid, this hike is often crowded, but it's still worth the trip. Both Porter and Cascade have fairly exposed summits that offer 360-degree views of the surrounding wilderness. 

Mount Colden via the Trap Dyke: 14.54 miles, 2,660 feet net elevation gain. For those seeking a more adventurous route to the top of New York's High Peaks Wilderness, scramble your way up Mount Colden via the Trap Dyke. After skirting Avalanche Lake, you'll bushwhack your way to the foot of the Dyke, which requires scrambling up steep and exposed rock. No climbing gear is required since the rock is coarse and easy to grip when dry, but you might want to bring a helmet for this unique adventure. 

Rocky Mountain: 0.5 miles, 448 feet net elevation gain. This short hike gradually climbs to a flat outcropping that offers excellent views of neighboring lakes and mountains. The wide forest trails are perfect for families and those seeking a pleasant and easy stroll. 

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