We grew up with the Adirondack Mountains being a 2.5 hour drive away from Montreal without really realising the beauty this region holds. We never put much thought into it until 2016, when we really started getting out there and exploring our own backyard much more than we ever had before. From the moment we picked up our first camera, the way we saw the world shifted and the way we spent our free time together changed dramatically. We started researching places to go with great photo opportunities. Places that we could easily drive to and make a day trip out of. Our free time went from being spent in shopping malls or in front of the TV, to being spent in cafes editing photos from our most recent adventures.
As much as you can complain about Instagram, it became our best friend for finding spots we wanted to go out and shoot at. It also became a place to meet like-minded people that had similar interests and that showed us how they made the most out of their surroundings and how they saw life in a beautiful way. In these last few years, we learned that you don’t need to travel to the end of the world to experience beauty and capture amazing images. So if you’re based out of Montreal or the Northeast, we want to encourage you to spend less time inside scrolling your Instagram feed and feeling jealous of people who are travelling the world and posting beautiful pictures. Get out there and explore your back yard!
The Adirondack Mountains
Some of our favorite memories together are days spent in the Adirondacks Mountains. As the birthplace of our common love for the outdoors, road trips and photography, they hold a special place in both our hearts. Home of the High Peaks, a group of 46 mountains of 4000 feet or more, the Adirondacks are a hiker’s paradise. With their close proximity to Montreal and immense beauty, they make for a perfect day trip or a great short weekend getaway! Pack your bags with plenty of snacks and water, lace up your hiking shoes and head on down to upstate New York for a day hike or a weekend of camping! Here are some of our fave spots in the Adirondacks.
Indian Head Trail
Indian Head is hands down one of our favorite places in the Adirondack Mountains (and the world!). The view you get at the top is one of the most rewarding ones we’ve ever seen! Stop by Rainbow Falls on your way up (or down) to see a beautiful waterfall like no other in the northeast. We hiked up to the viewpoint again this weekend and we can say it definitely did not disappoint. Give yourself enough time to sit at the top and soak up the views, trust me, you won’t want to leave!
Indian Head is a 15.5km trail that takes between 4 and 5 hours to complete. It’s very accessible to beginners as the majority of the trail is actually a private road where you’ll walk by a Country Club, with a total elevation gain of only 730 feet. From the parking lot on Ausable Road, you’ll walk around 1h15-1h30 on this road to get to the trailhead. There are actually 3 trails leading up to Indian Head, our favorite one is the third one – steeper but shorter!. If you want to make a stop at Rainbow Falls, keep going along the road for around 5 minutes and you’ll see a sign pointing to the falls. Worth the stop!
Adirondack Loj Region
The road that takes you to the Adirondack Loj is one of the most scenic ones we’ve ever driven! We’ve experienced different seasons on this road and we have to say, wether they’re covered in pure white snow, a deep shade of green or starting to turn yellow and orange, the trees that line the road are simply breathtaking. This is the very road that made us fall in love with the Adirondack region! If you book early enough, you can camp out at the Adirondack Loj, which seems like a great place to set up tent for the night!
The first hike we’ve ever done in the region is Mt. Jo, an easy and short hike that offers beautiful views at the top on a clear day. Note that the Adirondack Loj is one of the only places in the Adirondack Mountains where you have to pay for parking. Cash or card accepted inside.
Goodnow Mountain Fire Tower
A few years ago, we were feeling quite adventurous and decided to drive down to Goodnow Mountain late at night, power nap in the car in the trailhead parking lot (would not recommend this as camping is not permitted in trailhead parking lots) and wake up at 4am to hike the fire tower for sunrise. It’s a short and easy enough hike to the top, but on barely 3 hours of car sleep and no food, we (read Yass) struggled a bit and made it just in time for sunrise. We have to say that to this day, even after seeing the sun rise on five different continents, this is still the most memorable sunrise we’ve ever witnessed.
Even though it was really cold at the top of the fire tower, the panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, the first light revealing the beauty of the mountains and the fact that we were all alone to experience this beauty made it such a special moment. We reckon this would be a great place for sunset as well because you get a 360 degree view from the top of the tower.
Commonly known as the easiest of the High Peaks, Cascade Mountain can get quite busy in the summer months but let me tell you, the view is breath taking! This 7.7 km, 4 hour hike is a great way to get initiated to hiking in the Adirondack Region. Make sure you get there early because the parking lots get full during summer weekends. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a 2 km detour towards Porter Mountain!
Sharp Bridge Campground
When we post photos of the Adirondack Mountains, we often get asked where we stay. There are many places to stay but one of our favorites is Sharp Bridge Campground. It costs 23 USD for a camping spot for out of state residents (one of the cheapest campgrounds we’ve found) and they give you free firewood from trees they chop down on the property. The showers are hot (perfect for those cool nights) and it’s pretty quiet. However if you’re expecting a secluded, private camp spot.. this is maybe not the place for you! We also have to admit it’s a little bit far from most of the hiking trails, and about a 20 minutes drive into Keene.
Last but not least, if you’re looking for good coffee, we recently discovered Old Mountain Coffee Company in Keene and honestly, we’ll certainly be back every time we’re in town because it is amazing! Not only is the coffee darn delicious, the staff is super friendly and welcoming, they have free wifi and it’s a perfect place to wind down before or after a hike!
We hope these tips help you start planning your adventure to the Adirondack Mountains. Let us know in the comments if you’ve been and which hikes we should do next!
If you’re looking for a great European getaway from Montreal, check out our blog post on our Weekend in Vienna!