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Tackle Mud Season in the Adirondacks With These 7 Spring Hiking Trails

With longer days and warmer weather compared to the winter months, spring is a great time for an outdoor adventure. However, it's important to keep in mind that spring is also mud season in the Adirondacks, so you should choose your trails accordingly.

If you're looking for lower elevation spring hiking trails, then we have you covered. Check out these 7 great hikes throughout the Adirondack region.

1. Panther Mountain

panther summit

For beginner hikers, Panther Mountain is a fantastic mud season hike to try in the Tri-Lakes Region of the Adirondack Park. Since Panther Mountain is a small peak with an elevation of 2,236 feet, you shouldn't expect very much mud on the trail.

Round trip, the trail is just 1.2 miles long, making it great for families. It ascends quickly and some sections are covered in exposed roots. The partially open summit offers views of the Seward Range and Panther Pond.

Trailhead Directions:

  • In Tupper Lake, NY, start from the intersection of Route 3 and Route 30.
  • Follow Routes 3/30 toward Saranac Lake, and when the road splits, follow Route 3.
  • About 1.6 miles down the road, you'll reach the trailhead.

2. Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain

poke o moonshine summit

Over in Essex County, Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain offers a hike similar to that of Panther Mountain. The oldest route, known as the Ranger Trail, is steep, rocky, and about 1.2 miles long.

The second trail up Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain is called the Observer's Trail. Overall, this trail is less steep and in much better condition because it is newer. Much of it follows an old logging trail, and the length is roughly 2 miles one way.

Trailhead Directions:

  • To reach the Ranger Trail trailhead, head toward the Poke-O-Moonshine State Campground and you'll find it in the southern section.
  • If you follow Route 9 south for another mile, you'll reach the Observer's Trail trailhead instead.

3. Meade Mountain

meade mountain summit

Part of the Chester Challenge, Meade Mountain is located near Pottersville. It is a lesser known trail which might guarantee the summit to yourself.

When paired with adjacent Beckman Mountain, it is a 1.9 mile out and back trail. This is a great option for those who enjoy working on a hiking challenge or bagging a few mountains in one day.

Don't let the 1,560 elevation trick you, the beginning of this trail is definitely steep.

Trailhead Directions:

  • Drive on State Rt 9 past Warner Pond and take a right down Igerna Road.
  • Continue down this road until you see the Meade Mountain and Beckham Mountain trailhead on your left.

4. Baxter Mountain

baxter mountain
Photo Credit: (ROOST)

One of the classic hikes in the Adirondacks and a part of the Lake Placid 9er is Baxter Mountain. For a short hike, trail enthusiasts will be in love with the views that are offered from this summit.

The trail itself is 2.9 miles out and back with 770 feet of elevation gain. This hike does not take up a majority of your time if you are planning to do more in the area.

If you hike in the morning, grab brunch at Noonmark Diner or Old Mountain Coffee after!

Trailhead Directions:

  • Drive up Beede Road in Keene Valley and keep an eye out for Beede Farm.
  • Once you reach that location, there will be a small parking area for the Baxter Mountain trailhead on the right.

5. Schumann Preserve at Pilot Knob

pilot knob view

This hike is a favorite among locals and visitors in the Lake George region because it boasts some of the finest views along the lake.

The Pilot Knob trail is a 3.8 mile out and back hike with some steeper sections as you travel up to the gazebo. Once you reach the gazebo, you can continue into the woods to check out a waterfall, which is usually flowing during April and May.

If you want to avoid running into hikers on this trail, try to complete the hike early in the morning. It is a popular trailhead so it may get busy!

Trailhead Directions:

  • From Lake George Village, turn onto Route 9L and follow the road east along Lake George.
  • Right after passing Castaway Marina on your left, you'll arrive at an intersection with Pilot Knob Road and Ridge Road.
  • Turn left onto Pilot Knob Road.
  • Drive this road for a little over half a mile and the trailhead parking for Pilot Knob will be on your right.

6. Buck Mountain

buck mountain

Buck Mountain, located near Lake George, offers some of the best views in the region. Overlooking the lake, this is usually a great starting point for beginner hikers and features a beautiful lookout. 

The hike is 6.6 miles round trip and has areas of easier terrain and some steep parts along the way. This trail can be completed in a few hours, so take your time and remember to enjoy nature!

Trailhead Directions:

  • Head toward Pilot Knob Rd and stay on it for 3.4 miles.
  • Afterwards, you will find the trailhead on your right.

7. Pharaoh Mountain

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area sign

In the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area is a fantastic hike to try out during the Adirondack mud season. That would be none other than Pharaoh Mountain located in Essex County. With an elevation of 2,546 feet, you will take in beautiful views of Pharoah Lake.

The hike is a bit longer than most on this list, as it comes in at approximately 14 miles round trip. It is known as a popular trail for backpacking and well worth the extra mileage. Make a great day out of this trail by bringing your four legged friend along!

Or, consider some of the other hikes in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area, such as Crab Pond, Glidden Marsh, Treadway Mountain Trail, and more. If you don't want to do the longer hike, an alternative might be better!

Trailhead Directions:

  • From Exit 25 N, turn right and then immediately turn left onto Schroon River Road.
  • Follow this road north as it becomes E. Schroon River Road.
  • Travel over the bridge and Starbuckville Dam, and continue north as the road becomes Valentine Pond Road.
  • Stay on this road until you see the sign for Johnson Road on the right. Take the turn.
  • After a short drive, you'll reach an intersection with Beaver Pond Road on the right. Take the turn.
  • This road will bring you to an intersection with Pharaoh Road. Turn left onto Pharaoh Road, and follow it to the South Pharaoh Lake Parking Lot.

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