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A hiker on the edge of a cliff overlooking Heart Lake, near Mount Jo

Adirondacks, New York in 3 Days

Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.

Day 1

  • Roaring Brook Falls
  • Nubble
  • Giant Washbowl Overlook
  • Ausable Inn

We arrived in Keene Valley at our B&B, Snow Goose Inn, at 2:30 pm. Dropped bags and drove 1 minute down the road to the Roaring Brook Falls trailhead. We wanted to hike to the Nubble and Giant Washbowl Overlook. You can continue south on Route 73 for about 1.5 miles and park at the Giant Mountain trailhead to shorten the hike, but we wanted to add the waterfall. It was not worth it. There really aren’t any good views from the bottom or top so I’d say save the mileage and go to the other trailhead.

From the top of the falls, we continued on to the Nubble. There is a great view overlooking Keene Valley.

Keene Valley from the Nubble

You can’t see the washbowl from the Nubble, but the overlook is less than 0.25 miles away. It’s not marked on any of the trail signs but is on the Gaia GPS app, which I highly recommend. After admiring the view at the overlook, we turned around and retraced our steps for a 4-mile RT hike with 1,400 feet of elevation gain.

View from the Giant Washbowl Overlook, very close to the Nubble

Had a great dinner at Ausable Inn – highly recommend.

Day 2

  • High Falls Gorge
  • Lake Placid
  • Mount Jo
  • Split Rock Falls

It was showing rain pretty much all day and that was accurate, unfortunately. We were going to drive up Whiteface Mountain but all the peaks were covered in clouds. There is a webcam that we checked several times throughout the day that confirmed it wouldn’t have been worth the time or cost to drive up.

We went to High Falls Gorge, which is privately-owned (a rarity in the Adirondacks). The owners built stairs, walkways, and bridges over the gorge and waterfalls. It’s very pretty, but $17 per person for a 0.5 mile trail is pretty expensive. It was quite enjoyable, very scenic, and a great activity in the rainy weather, so we didn’t mind the cost.

High Falls Gorge

Since we were close, we drove to Lake Placid and around Mirror Lake. It was raining the whole time, however, so we didn’t get out. Didn’t really plan on going there, but were close and figured we might as well. Seemed like a nice area to walk around in better weather.

Mount Jo

Continued on to the Mount Jo trailhead to do the 2.5-mile RT hike with 700 feet of elevation gain. This is a popular trail because it’s close to Lake Placid, short, and relatively lower-effort than a lot of the surrounding hikes.

We found the view from the summit to be quite underwhelming. You couldn’t really see Heart Lake as trees obscure much of it. With a little exploring, we found an unobstructed view that was way better than the summit.

The unobstructed view of Heart Lake near the Mount Jo summit

It rained most of the way up but stopped briefly while we were at the good view. The trees, lake, and mountains looked awesome.

Split Rock Falls

Next we drove south, past our B&B, to see Split Rock Falls. There is a small pulloff with space for several cars and the falls are right off the road. You have to walk downhill for about 2 minutes to really see the waterfall. Definitely worth the detour, as it was only 10 minutes from Keene Valley.

Split Rock Falls

Most restaurants in the area are closed on Monday and Tuesdays, so the owners of the Snow Goose B&B opened a restaurant called the Monday Tuesday Grill. It’s only open those 2 days, when everything else is closed, and it was excellent. They vary the menu every week and make everything fresh. It’s at the ADK Trail Inn, about 15 minutes north of the Snow Goose. Lots of locals, a very “homey” and authentic feel.

Day 3

  • Indian Head
  • Fish Hawk Cliffs
  • Rainbow Falls
  • Beaver Meadow Falls
View the in-depth Hike Guide for Indian Head here

You can make the Indian Head hike as short as 9 miles RT for just Indian Head or add on as much as you’d like. We took the short detours to Fish Hawk Cliffs, Rainbow Falls, and Beaver Meadow Falls for a 10.3 mile RT hike with 1,400 feet of elevation gain. All of the stops were absolutely worth it, and the views from Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs are the best I’ve seen east of Colorado.

We drove 8.5 hours back home to Cleveland, Ohio, after the hike.

Additional thoughts

The Adirondacks are huge. Almost 3 times the size of Yellowstone and about as big as the state of Vermont. Lake Placid is the most developed and well-known part, as it hosted the Olympic games twice. There are tons of hikes and towns, but we chose Keene Valley as our base because it’s the closest to the hikes we wanted to do most.  

Snow Goose was great – only a few rooms so it’s best to book early in high seasons. The owners, Wayne and Amy, are wonderful.

Peak foliage usually occurs during the last week in September through the first 2 weeks in October, but can vary from year to year.

The hikes in the Adirondacks are tough and different from those out west. A lot of the trails are steep inclines on roots and rocks, so much of the elevation gain is over shorter distances. The stats for a hike may not seem difficult, but there’s a high chance it will be tougher than you think. There are far fewer switchbacks and boulder fields like you see out west.

Traveled in October 2023

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