Saranac Lake is in the heart of Adirondack hiking country, with the High Peaks nearby, countless trails within a short drive, and the famed Saranac Lake 6er hiking challenge in and around town.
But despite the well-deserved popularity of many of the area’s trails, there are still some hidden gems that will offer plenty of wonder and adventure without big crowds. While everyone should continue to recreate locally until health officials say otherwise, here are a few hikes to keep in mind for the next time you take a trip to Saranac Lake.
Short: Panther Mountain - 1.2 miles, round-trip
Panther Mountain is located between the villages of Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake and offers great views of the Tupper Lake area after a very short climb.
The trail starts across the road from the small parking area, and climbs pretty much the whole way to the summit. Luckily, it’s only a little more than a half-mile to the top, and there are a number of switchbacks, so the climbing isn’t that bad.
This is a great hike for families, clocking in at an easy 0.6 miles one-way, and the summit has rocks to climb on as well as grassy areas to relax in. While the summit is treed, there are stellar views of the nearby High Peaks.
Medium: Floodwood Mountain - 3.4 miles, round-trip
Located just south of the St. Regis Canoe Area in the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, Floodwood Mountain is an often overlooked gem of a hike. With easy grades and great views, Floodwood offers a lot of bang for the buck.
The crowds here are limited, as the immediate area is known more for its paddling opportunities. But Floodwood Mountain - as one of the few high spots in that area - has views that are unobtainable from anywhere else.
Long: Jenkins Mountain - 9 miles, round-trip
Jenkins Mountain is off the beaten path as far as hikes go, which is surprising given its starting point and closest mountain neighbor are each popular spots about 15 minutes from downtown Saranac Lake. The historic St. Regis Mountain is nearby and the Jenkins Mountain trail starts at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center - both of which are worth a visit.
From the VIC, the trail up Jenkins Mountain starts off on the relatively flat and well-maintained trails of the VIC. After passing through the gorgeous VIC property, the trail then begins to climb the mountain, and ends at the partially-open summit of Jenkins.
From there, the views are of the Saranac Lake area’s mountains and valleys, lakes and ponds. And on the way back, stop into the main lodge at the VIC for some informational exhibits, local arts, and souvenirs.
Whenever you’re in the Saranac Lake area, there are no shortage of hikes and outdoor adventures to have. In fact, there are so many that you’ll want to find the perfect place to stay or grab a bite and a beer after a rewarding day on the trails.