A Weekend Hiking in the Adirondacks

Hiking, Travel

July 9, 2020

The Adirondacks are a stunning mountain range in Upstate New York, and are the “the largest protected natural area in the lower 48 of the United States

The Adirondacks had been on my list for a long time, and I finally made it happen. I decided I wanted to go to the Adirondacks when I saw a photo of the view from Indian Head. I always say that photography has power, and I literally decided I wanted to visit the Adirondacks based on a photo.

The photo I saw looked something like this (this is my photo though)

There is SO MUCH to do in the Adirondacks, and you could literally hike for days. You can summit the high peaks, explore the wilderness, gaze at the lakes, walk around the little mountain communities, and even ski in the winter.

I went with Cody Markham of Markham Adventures. We spent 3 nights and 2.5 days in the region, and it was incredible. Here’s what we did!

Where we Stayed: Macomb State Park

We decided to camp at Macomb State Park, mostly because a lot of the other campgrounds were already full when we decided to go. Macomb is a little farther north than most of the Adirondack region, but it was a great campground. The campground had nice amenities without being too developed. The tent sites were large and wooded, and the bathhouses were nice. Plus there is a pond in the park where you can swim. We didn’t swim, but we watched a sunset at the pond and even saw a beaver!

Day 1: Hike to Indian Head Via Rainbow Falls

The main thing I wanted to do in the Adirondacks was hike to Indian Head, and epic overlook near Lake Placid. The trail is usually an 11-mile loop, but when we went, there was a bridge out and we ended up hiking 14+ miles in one day.  You can find specific trail information here.

The trail was challenging but so worth it! We started by hiking through an area called Cathedral Rocks, which had large boulders around the trail.

Then we made it to a waterfall that we thought was Rainbow Falls. It wasn’t, and we didn’t find the real rainbow falls for another several miles. I still don’t know what falls this is, but it was really pretty!

Next we came to a beautiful view of the mountains. At this point, we had to detour around the bridge that was out, which added about 3-4 miles to the total hike.

On the plus side, we found the real Indian Head Falls! It was beautiful. Y’all, at this point of the hike, I was tired, and we still had like 5+ miles to go!

We continued on to Indian Head, and even had to cross a rather large stream at one point. The last mile or so to Indian Head was rocky and practically straight up. I’ve hiked a lot, but that last push to the summit was HARD.

When we finally reached the overlook though, it was absolutely breathtaking, and the entire hike was worth it. We hit the overlook right at golden hour, and I cannot even tell you how beautiful it was. I didn’t even take any photos for the first 15-ish minutes.

HUGE shout out to Cody Markham on this hike. I truly could not have done it without him. His endless motivation (and water filter) got me through.

As I mentioned, we made it to the overlook at golden hour, which happens 1-2 hours before sunset. Which meant that we needed to book it to hike the 4+ miles back to our car by dark. We made it, and got back to the car right at dark, around 9:30pm. We hadn’t exactly planned to be out so long and hadn’t packed much food for dinner. As soon as we made it back to the car, we dug into our main food stash and devoured sandwiches and Doritos from the back hatch of my car. What a moment.

Things to pack for this hike

If you’re going to do the Indian Head hike, here’s some items I recommend taking with you on the hike!

  • Two 1-litre bottles of water. You could probably get away with one and a water filter.
  • Water filter (I like this one from Sawyer). This filter allows you to safely refill your water bottles from stream water
  • Lots of high energy snacks!! At least one meal and 2 substantial snacks. I brought a sandwich, trail mix, dried fruit, and a Clif bar. I should have packed more
  • Camera! Obviously. 🙂

Day 2: Lake Champlain

We were originally planning to hike another 10+ mile trail on day 2, but after the grueling first day, we decided to take a beach day for day 2. We drove to Plattsburgh City Beach to swim in Lake Champlain. The beach was great, the water wasn’t too cold, and it was a glorious day relaxing in the sun. I took absolutely no photos of the lake, but it was beautiful, trust me. 🙂

After a leisurely day at the beach, we headed back to camp to make hobo pie on the campfire for dinner and watch a sunset at the Macomb State Park beach.

Day 3: Lake Placid

We only had half a day on day 3, so we drove to the charming little town of Lake Placid to walk around the lake and browse the cute little shops in downtown. Lake Placid was the host of the 1980 Olympics, and you can see the Olympic complex and ski jump, which is cool.

Before heading back home, we also stopped at the Noon Mark Diner for pie. Yes, specifically for pie. The pie at this diner is legendary, and worth the stop. Get some delicious fruit concoction by the slice, and get a crumb top if you can!

I absolutely loved the Adirondacks, and already want to go back! Here are more photos from the trip!

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  1. Richard says:

    Hi Abby, I’m delighted that you enjoyed the Adirondacks. They are gorgeous, as you can now attest to. I had been part of the trail crew that cleared all of the Indian Head and Rainbow Brook trails that you hiked on and we did it without any power tools. That was sixty years ago (60!!), and your beautiful photos and words brought back very fond memories for me. You have a good eye for photography and write well. Thanks.

    • Abby Shepard says:

      Hi Richard! Thanks for the comment! The Adirondacks are such a special place. Thanks for sharing a little about your experience as part of the trail crew! What a cool experience!

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Hi there! I'm Abby. 
I'm a traveling photographer, writer, and artist and I'm most passionate about using visual communication connecting people with the outdoors.


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