Trail Running in the Adirondacks
Trail running is the perfect outdoor activity for anyone interested in getting some exercise while exploring the Adirondack wilderness. With a wide variety of trails that are great for running, the Adirondack Park is a popular place for trail runners looking to go on another adventure.
Moss Lake, Photo By: Lisa Doyle
Before you head out and go trail running in the Adirondacks, you should make sure you're prepared for the trip. Whether you've never been trail running before or if running is one of your favorite outdoor activities, it's important to know the basics.
1. Pick the right running shoes. Although the comfortable sneakers you own may work out just fine, a pair of off-road running shoes may provide better grip if you plan on running along roots and rocky areas. Search for trail shoes that fit right for you.
2. Make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks. You're going to expend a lot of energy trail running, and it's always better to be overprepared than underprepared in the Adirondacks. A running backpack that's comfortable or a hydration pack are both great options for longer runs.
3. Know your route. If you plan on running through a new and unknown trail, make sure you are aware of its length, terrain, difficulty, etc. Well-marked trails are recommended because you don't want to take a wrong turn and get lost. Furthermore, be aware of the trail's rules; for example, if mountain bikers use it, keep watch for them.
4. Know your limits. If you usually run an average of 2 miles, don't try a 20-mile trail. Start out with an easier trail, and then build yourself up to longer ones.
5. Stay safe. Let someone know when and where you're going out for a trail running trip. If there's a trail register, be sure to fill out your information when you check in and leave. Also, since cellphone service is extremely limited in the Adirondacks, you'll want someone to know where you are if you get hurt. Or, bring a friend running with you, which will be even safer and maybe make the trip more enjoyable.
6. Enjoy the adventure! Trail running is a great way to see parts of the Adirondacks you've never seen before. If you're not in a race, stop along the way and check out the scenery or the trail's informational signs. Just remember to have fun and stay safe.
There are a lot of options for both beginner and experienced trail runners in the Adirondacks. To help you decide where to go for your next trail running trip, we've compiled 8 Great Places to Trail Run in the Adirondacks!
1. Lake Placid Trails
Located on the outskirts of the Village of Lake Placid, Henry's Woods is a community preserve with five trails that are open for recreational activities, including trail running. Established in 2008, the preserve is owned and maintained by the Uihlein Foundation, and it is open to the public. Look for a kiosk and map at the trailhead. The five trails in Henry's Woods are:
- Connector Trail - .3 mile, flat
- Loop Trail - 2 miles, long and varies in elevation
- Switchback Trail - .25 mile, short and steep
- Plateau Trail - .9 mile, mostly flat
- Rocky Knob Trail - .9 mile, steep and rocky at points
Heaven Hill Trails:
Right down the road from Henry's Woods is another trail system named Heaven Hill Trails. This trail system features three main loops that are all flat and perfect for trail running.
- Big Field Loop - .9 mile, short trail through the woods
- Old Orchard Loop - 1.4 miles, travels through a field with great views, follow the orange tags
- Bear Cub Loop - 1.5 miles, follow the green tags
Access Point: Bear Cub Road, Lake Placid, NY 12946 (Henry's Woods is a couple hundred feet on the right, and Heaven Hill Trails is less than 3 miles down the same road)
2. Paul Smith's College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC)
The VIC in Paul Smiths, NY features a 3,000-acre trail system with over 25 miles of nature and hiking trails. All of the trails are free and open to the public from spring through fall, and they are open from dawn to dusk every day. In the winter, there is a fee to access the trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and other activities.
For trail runners, there are three easy interpretive nature trails to try out. Pick one for a short trip, or combine them for a longer scenic tour of the VIC.
- Barnum Brook Trail - 1 mile loop
- Heron Marsh Trail - 3 mile trail
- Boreal Life Trail - 1 mile loop
If you want more of a challenge, there are also multiple hiking trails at the VIC that range in length and difficulty. See a map and plan your route.
Access Point: Visitor Interpretive Center, 8023 New York 30, Paul Smiths, NY 12970
3. Moss Lake Loop - Webb
If you're in the Western Adirondacks, there's an easy running trail in the Town of Webb near Eagle Bay. Known as the Moss Lake Loop, this trail is 2.5 miles long and it goes around Moss Lake. Although it's great for a family outing in the woods, the Moss Lake Loop is also a good spot for new trail runners.
Once you reach the parking area and sign in at the trailhead's kiosk, the trip will take you counterclockwise around the lake. There are a few bridges along the way, and trail signs will let you know when the trail is about to ascend or descend. See a map.
Access Point: Big Moose Road, Webb, NY 13331 (Near Moss Lake)
4. Camp Santanoni Trail - Newcomb
For more experienced runners, the Camp Santanoni Trail (Newcomb Lake Road) is a great way to see all of Camp Santanoni's historic complexes. Starting off at the Gatehouse Complex, the five mile trail leads to the Farm Complex and then ends at the Main Complex.
Camp Santanoni's gravel trail is open all year long, but be aware that hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, and horse-drawn wagons also use the trail. Also, remember that if you run the five miles to the Main Complex, you'll have to run five miles back. See a map.
Access Point: Gatehouse Complex Parking Area, 58 Newcomb Lake Road, Newcomb, NY 12852
5. Adirondack Loj Trails
The Adirondack Loj is known as the gateway to the High Peaks of the Adirondacks, but it is also the access point for many hiking and running trails. For those interested in a challenge, you can attempt to run up one of the shorter mountains in the region, such as Mt. Jo. Or, for a quick run, you can take the 1-mile Heart Lake loop.
Stop by the Adirondack Loj and visit the High Peaks Information Center for a map of the surrounding area. Depending on your level of fitness, look for trails you can handle.
Access Point: Adirondack Loj, 1002 Adirondack Loj Road, Lake Placid, NY 12946
6. Bear Pond Loop
Bear Pond Loop is located at the Putnam Pond State Campground. Although there is a day-use fee to park at this state campground, this is one trail running trip that can be turned into a picnic as well. Bring a friend for this run and then enjoy lunch at the campground afterward.
To access Bear Pond Loop, you must follow the trail from the campground parking lot for half a mile to the trailhead; there is no parking right at the trailhead. Once you reach the trailhead, the loop will be around 5 miles long. Some key tips to remember:
- The trail moves through the forest, and you will pass Heart Pond on your left.
- Stay right at the first intersection, and then continue as the trail moves around the southern end of Bear Pond.
- After some elevation changes, you'll reach the shore of Rock Pond and another intersection. Take a left turn, and you will head back toward Heart Pond.
- There will be some uphill parts, but soon enough you'll reach that first intersection and the trail back to the trailhead.
Access Point: Putnam Pond State Campground, 763 Putts Pond Road, Ticonderoga, NY 12883
7. Sargent Ponds Loop - Long Lake
The 6.8-mile Sargent Ponds Loop is available for all kinds of recreational activities. The loop brings visitors through the woods to Upper Sargent Pond, Lower Sargent Pond, and then back to the original trailhead. This loop is broken up into four sections, and if you don't think you can run the whole loop, then just pick one section.
- From the eastern trailhead, follow the trail for 1.2 miles to an intersection. Follow the sign at the intersection to stay on the main trail. Or, take the other trail for .2 mile and see Upper Sargent Pond.
- From that intersection, follow the main trail for about 1.5 miles to the next intersection. From here, you can take a quick walk to see Lower Sargent Pond, or you can continue on the main trail.
- The next section is longer at 2 miles in length. You'll pass by Grass Pond on the way, and at the end of this section, you'll see the western trailhead.
- To get back to the eastern trailhead, you must run 1.5 miles down North Point Road. Or, if you can, have someone pick you up at the western trailhead.
Access Point: North Point Road, Long Lake, NY 12847
8. Northville-Lake Placid Trail
The Northville-Lake Placid Trail is a 133-mile trail that runs through the Adirondack Park. It travels through some of the most remote areas of the Adirondacks, but you don't have to tackle it all at once. There are multiple trailheads and sections to the trail, so you can pick the one closest to you.
Plan ahead where you want to begin and end your running trip on the Northville-Lake Placid Trail. One suggestion is to go with a friend and drive two cars. Leave one where you plan to end your running trip, and then drive the other to the starting trailhead. Or, determine how long of a section you want to run, and then plan on running back to where you started.
Access Point: Various sites along the trail. See more information about the trailheads.