The BEST Spots To See Falls Colors in the Adirondack Mountains
Updated: Sep 15, 2021
If you want to know the best spots to see fall colors in the Adirondack Mountains, then you've come to the right place! In this post, I'm listing some of the top things to do in the Adirondacks in the fall. I will be including the best hikes, scenic drives, and photography locations.
Best time to visit the Adirondacks for fall foliage:
We visited the first week in October 2020, and I truly felt we couldn't have picked a better time in terms of the weather and fall colors! For a general guide on fall foliage peaking times in the Adirondacks, check out the Adirondack Peak Fall Foliage Map.
Please enjoy the outdoors responsibly. Always practice the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.
1. Cascade Lakes
Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes are twin lakes framed by sheer rock cliffs and tons of fall foliage. The lakes are located on Route 73 and are very easy to access. Just park at one of the turn-offs and walk right up to the lake. On a day with low wind, you can see a perfect reflection of fall foliage.
2. Ranney Bridge
Located in Keene Valley, Ranney Bridge is a historic bridge built over the Ausable River. It's a stunning spot for viewing and photographing fall colors. Walk over the bridge to find several trails surrounded by fall foliage.
3. Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake is located in the heart of Lake Placid Village. One of the best times to visit the lake is at sunrise when the steam is rising off the lake. Paddleboarders and kayakers are often paddling along the lake in the early morning as well.
4. Roaring Brook Falls
The trailhead to Roaring Brook Falls is on Route 73 in Keene Valley. The hike to the lower portion of the falls is short and easy and, you can climb right up to the waterfalls. If you're going to climb up next to the waterfalls, use caution as the rocks are wet and slippery. You can end the hike at the lower falls or continue up the trail to the upper falls.
5. Scenic Autumn Drive
A scenic drive is a great way to enjoy the fall foliage in the Adirondacks. Two picturesque roads with tons of fall colors are Route 73 and Route 86.
6. Chapel Pond
Chapel Pond in Keene Valley is a popular spot for photographing fall colors. It's also a prime spot for rock climbing, hiking, and swimming! Chapel Pond is easily accessible right off Route 73.
7. Cobble Hill
Located in Lake Placid, Cobble Hill is a short and easy hike with beautiful of the village of Lake Placid and the High Peaks. This is a prime spot to catch early morning, low-hanging fog over the mountains. The trailhead is accessible via Mirror Lake Drive.
8. Gill Brook Trail
The Gill Brook Trail is a scenic trail that leads to several incredible overlooks including Indian Head, Nipple Top, and the Fish Hawk Cliffs. Even though the trail is a means to an end, I feel it deserves its own mention due to the number of beautiful waterfalls along the trail. There are over a dozen waterfalls along the Gill Brook Trail. My favorite one is pictured above.
9. Indian Head
If you only have time for one hike in the Adirondacks, this is the one. The views from the Indian Head overlook are outstanding, especially in the fall! Keep in mind that this is one view you are going to have to work for. It's not a difficult trail but, it is long - roughly 11 miles round trip. As far as the trail itself, you have a couple of options. You can take the previously mentioned Gill Brook Trail, which is the more scenic route. Or you can take Lake Road, which is the more straightforward route along a wide road.
The Indian Head trailhead is off Highway 73 in Keene Valley. Note that the parking lot for this trail fills up extremely fast. If the lot is full, you can park along HWY 73.
Where to Stay
We stayed at Cobble Hill Mountain Lodge in Lake Placid. It's about 5 minutes from downtown Lake Placid and has lovely views of the Cobble Hill Mountains right across the street. My favorite part of the lodge was the fire pit, which we took full advantage of! Also, it was budget-friendly compared to some of the other hotels in the area.