The Northville-Placid Trail: An Adirondack Hiking Challenge
The Northville-Placid Trail, or NPT, is about 135 miles long and runs from Northville to Lake Placid. Since 1970, the Schenectady Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club has offered an award patch to those who complete the entire trail as a thru-hike or by section.
The NPT Trail: An Almost-Hidden Gem in the ADK
The Adirondack Mountain Club's Schenectady Chapter calls this trail "one of the most interesting and perhaps least known features of the Adirondack Mountains region."
Development of the NPT began in 1922 by the newly formed Adirondack Mountain Club as its first major project. They completed the trail in 1924, and since then, it has undergone a few reroutes, and the NPT is now maintained by the Northville-Placid Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club and the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It's primarily used for hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
The NPT runs through some of the most remote areas of the Adirondack Park, making its way through forests and up hills, around rivers and ponds; a few sections will also bring you to road walks in Piseco, Wakely Dam, and Long Lake. The scenery changes constantly as you make your way along the NPT, and traversing this trail is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of nature and the Adirondacks.
Planning Your Trip: What Hikers & Backpackers Need to Know
For a hiker in moderately good condition, the degree of ascent on the NPT is never too difficult. However, all hikers and backpackers need to be aware that the trail travels through some of the most remote areas of the Adirondacks, and you should be properly prepared with food, water, and supplies.
Give yourself plenty of time to complete a particular section of the trail or reach your next rest stop on a thru-hike. It's estimated that if you're thru-hiking the trail, it should take 10-14 days to travel from Northville to Lake Placid, or vice versa. Traveling from south to north is most common, and the Northville-Placid Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club's directions are written for this route.
The NPT features multiple trailheads and parking areas, and there are blue DEC trail markers along its entire length. As noted on the Northville-Placid Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club's website, there are 10 trail sections with the following mileage (all distances approximate):
- Section 1. Northville to Benson - 12.32 miles
- Section 2. Benson to Whitehouse - 21.51 miles
- Section 3. Whitehouse to Piseco - 9.19 miles
- Section 4. Piseco to West Canada Lakes - 15.05 miles
- Section 5. West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam - 16.16 miles
- Section 6. Wakely Dam to Lake Durant - 12.21 miles
- Section 7. Lake Durant to Long Lake - 13.95 miles
- Section 8. Long Lake to Shattuck Clearing - 12.49 miles
- Section 9. Shattuck Clearing to Duck Hole - 11.84 miles
- Section 10. Duck Hole to Lake Placid - 13.66 miles
Lodging, Stores & Stops Along the Trail
Although much of the trail travels through wilderness, you will pass by local communities during the trip. Stock up on supplies at stores, or have some delivered to a post office (Piseco, Blue Mountain Lake, and Long Lake), which you can pick up as you pass through. The Schenectady Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club also notes that, "Temporary camping is permitted at undeveloped sites on state land. State-erected lean-tos or open camps located at reasonably short intervals are for hikers' use and are a quintessential part of the Adirondack experience.
The Irondequoit Inn
In addition, if you'd like to start near the southern end, one place you should check out is The Irondequoit Inn, which features an inn, cabins, and campsites at the north end of Piseco Lake. This is the perfect base camp for your Adirondack hiking adventure, as the property is just steps away from Haskell Road on the NPT. Haskell Road leads directly to a NPT trailhead and the start of "Section 4. Piseco to West Canada Lakes," listed above. Enjoy a comfortable stay while completing parts of the NPT.
Are You Up for a Hiking Challenge?
The Schenectady Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club has offered an award patch since 1970 to those who complete their NPT hiking challenge. Here are the rules:
- You may complete the trail as one end-to-end trip, or by section
- Obey all NY State DEC rules - regulations are slightly different in various sections of the Adirondack Park
- Use proper trail etiquette - "Leave-No-Trace"
- Know your limits and weather conditions
Once a hiker has finished this challenge, they can apply for the award patch by completing a "Record of Trip" (available as a PDF or a Word Doc you can download at adk-schenectady.org/northville-placid/trail) and mailing it with $5 to:
Schenectady Chapter Adirondack Mountain ClubAttn: NP Trail ChairPO Box 733Schenectady, NY 12301-0733
This hiking challenge is open to both Adirondack Mountain Club members and non-members, and you can complete it at your own pace.