The Adirondacks is like an all-natural playground that's perfect for adventurers of all ages to get outside and explore. While the region in New York is known for its epic, expert-level climbs, there are still plenty of fun and beautiful places throughout the area that are safe to bring children.
According to a recent study, hiking with your kids can promote emotional wellbeing and strengthen positive family interactions. Families thrive when they feel connected to each other and to nature, and the Adirondack Mountains are full of opportunities to let that happen. Spanning across more than six million acres, the Adirondacks feature the largest protected natural area in the contiguous United States. In other words, the possibilities for outdoor adventures are virtually endless.
You can choose from hiking up gorgeous mountain peaks or strolling across flat walking paths. Enjoy the views of verdant valleys or breathe in the heavily-wooded forest air. Depending on the weather, you could even paddle across one of the crystal blue lakes or take a dip in a fresh-water creek. No matter what season you visit this natural wonderland, there will be plenty of fun things to do for all ages. Read on for the best kid-friendly hikes in the Adirondacks that the whole crew can enjoy.
Bald Mountain (Rondaxe)
Bald Mountain, located just north of Old Forge in the Adirondacks, is a relatively easy hike with a big-bang view. The walking distance is about a mile with an elevation gain of approximately 400 feet. It is a fire tower mountain, meaning there is a fire tower at the summit. The view from the summit's rocky top is stunning, but hikers can climb to the top of the fire tower for even better views of the sweeping scenery. While its official name is Rondaxe Mountain, given to avoid confusion with another Bald Mountain that has a fire tower in nearby Lewis County, most people still refer to this peak as Bald Mountain.
To get there, turn right off Route 28 onto Rondaxe Road. Travel just over 0.1 mile to the trailhead parking on the left.
Amy's Park in Bolton Landing is a 500-acre preserve that includes four mostly flat, easy-to-traverse hiking trails, with lots of opportunity to view wildlife in the marshes and ponds along the way, complete with a view of Lake George. The park's trails easily lend themselves to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter seasons. Amy's Park has two boat launch areas for canoe or kayak access. The headwaters for Indian Brook are located within Amy's Park, which is maintained by the Lake George Land Conservancy.
View more information and the map here.
Not to be confused with Piseco's Panther Mountain, this Panther Mountain is located near Tupper Lake and is great for kids. The summit is reached in under a mile with a roundtrip hike is roughly 1.2 miles with an elevation gain of approximately 780 feet. That should be more than achievable, even with short legs! Learn more about Panther Mountain here.
Henry's Woods, which is owned and maintained by the Uihlein Foundation, is a community preserve located just outside the village of Lake Placid. The public is encouraged to use these trails responsibly and follow Leave No Trace principles at all time. To find the preserve from the intersection of Routes 73 and 86 in Lake Placid, follow Route 73 toward Keene. Continue 0.2 miles to Station Street on the right — it's the first right after you cross the Chubb River. Follow this road for 0.75 miles to Old Military Road. Take a left on Old Military Road and follow that for 0.9 miles to Bear Cub Lane on the right. The trailhead is a couple hundred feet up on the right. A map of the trails can be found here.
Sawyer Mountain is one of the park's easier summits with a spectacular view. The round-trip hike is a distance of around 2.2 miles with an elevation gain of about 600 feet to the top of the trail. It is one of the more popular routes in the Adirondacks' Indian Lake Region, mainly due to its excellent payoff for little effort. For family-friendly fun, Sawyer is one not to be miss.
To reach the Sawyer Mountain trailhead from the intersection of Route 28 and Route 30 in Indian Lake follow Route 28/30 toward Blue Mountain Lake. Continue for just under five miles to the trailhead on the left. Access the map here.
Adirondack Interpretive Center
Families visiting the northern Adirondacks should make time for a visit to the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC), located in Newcomb. The AIC is a 236-acre complex of environmental education, that boasts almost four miles of scenic, surfaced trails complemented by indoor exhibits, lectures, films and naturalist-led guided walks.
The AIC offers public programs, events, speaker series, courses and other activities throughout the year to the public as well as school groups. AIC programs provide individuals and groups with opportunities to learn directly from ESF faculty and staff members and guest experts.
There is a picnic area located on the grounds, but the benches provided at numerous overlooks along their trail system are also ideal lunch spots. For the seemingly endless number of hikes in the Adirondacks, this one is a crowd favorite.
To find AIC from Interstate 87, take Exit 29 and turn west on to Blue Ridge Road heading toward Newcomb. After 18 miles, turn right on Route 28N and drive through the Town of Newcomb. The AIC driveway will be on the right on the western edge of town.
Cobble Lookout is a short (2.6 mile round-trip), easy (250 feet elevation gain) hike that leads to an open rocky cliff area with big views of the surrounding High Peaks and mountains. Cobble Lookout is located in Wilmington near Santa's Workshop, a holiday-themed attraction. This hike serves up fun for the whole family, and because of that, is very popular. The map can be found here.
John Brown State Farm Historic Site
The John Brown State Farm Historic Site in Lake Placid is a historic site that also happens to have well-groomed trails, including a storybook walk for children. The site is the final resting place of abolitionist John Brown, who moved his family to the upstate wilderness area in the 1850s to serve as a leader and teacher to the black families who were there developing their own farms. Brown and his followers, however, had a difficult time farming the barren land around Lake Placid.
The views from the site have been called some of the best in the Adirondacks. The site provides ample opportunity to study wildlife and plant life in different settings. Check out the map here.