Old Forge, NY, nestled in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, is a haven for explorers and adventurers. With its rugged landscapes, breathtaking vistas, and miles of trails, it’s a destination that calls to those who seek the thrill of discovery. In this guide, we’ll explore the best of Old Forge hiking, uncovering trails that promise an unforgettable adventure. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting your journey, hiking Old Forge, NY, offers a diverse and exciting exploration.
1. Bald Mountain Trail
Bald Mountain Trail is a quintessential experience for anyone exploring hiking Old Forge, NY. This 2-mile round trip trail is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, and for good reason.
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Distance: 2 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 500 feet
- Trailhead Location: Rondaxe Road, Old Forge, NY
- Historic Rondaxe Fire Tower: At the summit, you’ll find the Rondaxe Fire Tower, a historic structure that dates back to 1917. Climbing the tower offers an even more spectacular view of the surrounding area.
- Fulton Chain of Lakes View: The panoramic view from the summit encompasses the Fulton Chain of Lakes, providing a breathtaking vista that captures the essence of the Adirondacks.
- Diverse Flora and Fauna: As you hike, you’ll pass through mixed hardwood forests, home to various species of birds, small mammals, and seasonal wildflowers.
- Family-Friendly: While the trail has some steep sections, it’s generally considered suitable for families with older children. The well-marked path and engaging scenery make it an enjoyable hike for all ages.
- Seasonal Activities: Bald Mountain Trail is not only great for hiking but also offers opportunities for snowshoeing and skiing in the winter months.
2. Black Bear Mountain
Black Bear Mountain is a thrilling and versatile hiking destination in Old Forge, NY. With two distinct trail options, it caters to hikers of varying skill levels, promising an adventure that’s both challenging and rewarding.
- Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
- Distance: 5 miles or 3 miles round trip (depending on the trail chosen)
- Elevation Gain: 700 feet
- Trailhead Location: Uncas Road, Old Forge, NY
- Two Trail Options: Black Bear Mountain offers two trails to the summit. The longer 5-mile trail provides a more gradual ascent, weaving through dense forests and crossing streams. The shorter 3-mile trail is steeper and more direct, offering a more intense hike.
- Panoramic Views: The summit provides breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding lakes, forests, and neighboring mountains. It’s a perfect spot for photography or simply soaking in the natural beauty.
- Wildlife Encounters: The trail is home to various wildlife, including deer, birds, and, occasionally, black bears. Observing wildlife in their natural habitat adds an extra layer of excitement to the hike.
- Seasonal Beauty: Black Bear Mountain is stunning year-round, with wildflowers in spring, lush greenery in summer, vibrant foliage in fall, and a serene snow-covered landscape in winter.
- Rock Scrambling Opportunities: For those seeking a bit of adventure, some sections of the trail offer opportunities for rock scrambling, adding an extra layer of challenge and fun.
3. Cascade Lake Loop
Cascade Lake Loop is a tranquil and scenic hiking destination in Old Forge, NY. This 6-mile loop trail offers a gentle hike that takes you around the stunning Cascade Lake, providing a peaceful escape for nature lovers.
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
- Distance: 6 miles loop
- Elevation Gain: 300 feet
- Trailhead Location: Big Moose Road, Old Forge, NY
- Scenic Lake Views: The trail offers continuous views of Cascade Lake, with its calm waters reflecting the surrounding forest and sky. It’s a perfect setting for photography or quiet contemplation.
- Wildlife Watching: The area is home to various wildlife, including beavers, ducks, and songbirds. Bring binoculars for bird-watching or simply enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
- Fishing Opportunities: Cascade Lake is known for its fishing, and there are several spots along the trail where anglers can cast a line. Species include bass, trout, and perch.
- Picnic Areas: There are designated picnic areas along the trail, making it a great place for a family outing or a romantic lakeside lunch.
- Seasonal Beauty: The trail offers unique beauty in every season, from wildflowers in spring to colorful foliage in fall and a snow-draped landscape in winter.
- Accessibility: The trail is well-maintained and marked, making it suitable for hikers of all ages and skill levels.
4. Nick’s Lake Campground Trail
Nick’s Lake Campground Trail is a family-friendly hiking destination in Old Forge, NY. This 2.5-mile loop trail offers a gentle and enjoyable hike through lush forests and along the lake’s shoreline.
- Difficulty: Easy
- Distance: 2.5 miles loop
- Elevation Gain: Minimal
- Trailhead Location: Nick’s Lake Campground, Old Forge, NY
- Lakeside Views: The trail follows the shoreline of Nick’s Lake, offering beautiful views of the water and opportunities to spot waterfowl and other aquatic wildlife.
- Forest Exploration: Wander through a mixed forest of pine, hemlock, and hardwoods, enjoying the soothing ambiance of the woods and the fragrance of fresh forest air.
- Family-Friendly: With its flat terrain and well-maintained path, the trail is suitable for families with children, including those with strollers.
- Recreational Opportunities: Nick’s Lake Campground offers various recreational facilities, including a beach for swimming, fishing spots, and picnic areas.
- Wildlife Encounters: Keep an eye out for deer, squirrels, and various bird species that inhabit the area. It’s a great trail for budding naturalists to explore.
- Camping Options: For those who wish to extend their adventure, the campground offers tent and RV camping sites, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature overnight.
5. Middle Settlement Lake
Middle Settlement Lake is a hidden gem in the Old Forge region, offering a serene and moderately challenging hiking experience. The trail to the lake winds through dense forests, crossing streams, and culminating in a breathtaking lakeside view.
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Distance: 4.8 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 600 feet
- Trailhead Location: Thendara, Old Forge, NY
- Secluded Lake Views: Middle Settlement Lake is nestled in a forested basin, providing a tranquil setting that feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
- Varied Terrain: The trail offers a mix of flat sections, gentle inclines, and some steeper areas, making it an engaging hike for those looking for a bit of a challenge.
- Wildlife Encounters: The area is home to deer, beavers, and a variety of bird species. Keep your eyes peeled for signs of wildlife as you hike.
- Fishing Opportunities: The lake is a popular spot for fishing, with brook trout being a common catch. Don’t forget to bring your fishing gear if you’re an angler!
- Camping Options: There are designated primitive campsites near the lake, providing an opportunity for an overnight adventure in the wilderness.
- Seasonal Beauty: The trail offers unique charm in every season, from lush greenery in summer to vibrant fall colors and a peaceful winter landscape.
6. Moose River Recreation Area
Moose River Recreation Area is a sprawling wilderness in the Old Forge region, offering a multitude of outdoor activities. With over 50 miles of trails, numerous ponds, and the winding Moose River, it’s a haven for hikers, anglers, paddlers, and nature enthusiasts.
- Difficulty: Varies (Easy to Difficult)
- Distance: Multiple trails ranging from 1 to 15 miles
- Elevation Gain: Varies by trail
- Trailhead Locations: Multiple access points, including Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road, Old Forge, NY
- Diverse Trail Options: From leisurely strolls to challenging hikes, the area offers trails for all skill levels. Popular trails include the Helldiver Pond Trail, Mitchell Ponds Trail, and the Red River Loop.
- Water Activities: The Moose River and various ponds provide opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Species include trout, bass, and pike.
- Wildlife Encounters: The area is rich in wildlife, including moose, deer, beavers, eagles, and ospreys. Bring binoculars for bird-watching or wildlife photography.
- Camping Opportunities: With numerous designated campsites and lean-tos, it’s an ideal location for multi-day backpacking trips or family camping adventures.
- Scenic Views: Many trails offer breathtaking views of the Adirondack Mountains, ponds, and the Moose River. Don’t forget your camera to capture the stunning landscapes.
- Winter Activities: In winter, the area transforms into a playground for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.
Old Forge Hiking Conclusion
Old Forge, NY, is more than just a scenic destination; it’s a hiker’s paradise. From the challenging ascents of Black Bear Mountain to the peaceful shores of Nick’s Lake, the trails of Old Forge invite you to uncover their hidden gems and embark on a one-of-a-kind adventure.
The spirit of exploration is alive and well in Old Forge, and these trails are a testament to the region’s natural beauty and adventurous soul. Whether you’re a seasoned trailblazer or just starting your hiking journey, Old Forge hiking offers a diverse and exciting exploration that resonates with the explorer in all of us.
So grab your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and set out on the trails of Old Forge. The mountains are calling, and adventure awaits!