What to Do Around Mount Marcy


Mount Marcy is the highest peak in the Adirondack Mountains, standing a whopping 5,344 feet above sea level. While this mountain is near the top of many hiking bucket lists, the hundreds of trails make this mountain enjoyable by people of all ages and skill levels.

Luckily, hiking is not the only thing you can do around Mount Marcy. From historical sites to wild rides, there are tons of things to see and experience nearby. 

To help you make the most of your Mount Marcy visit, we’ve compiled this list of the most popular things to do around Mount Marcy. Whether you are interested in a hike or not, there are tons of options to choose from here.

Hiking Options

While Mount Marcy is not all about hiking, it is the main attraction. Since not all hikers have the same stamina and ability, we have included hiking trails of all types. And remember, these are just a small sample of the trails you can access in the Mount Marcy area.

Before taking on any of these hiking trails, be sure to take into consideration your hiking abilities and take the necessary safety precautions. Novice hikers can take advantage of several guided hiking tours or instructions schools in the area.

Van Hoevenberg Trail

  • Difficulty: Hard
               
  • Distance: 14.1 miles
                      
  • Elevation Gain: 3,513 feet

The flagship trial to the top of Mount Marcy is the Van Hoevenberg Trail, which takes hikers on a scenic route over some difficult terrain. While it isn’t the best option for novice hikers, the trail is designed for a one-day in and out trip, with just over 7 miles of walking each way. 

Multiple checkpoints allow for some time to rest and re-energize. You can also camp in several spots along the trail if you choose to make it a multi-day journey. 

Marcy Dam Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance Gain: 4.2 miles
            
  • Elevation Gain: 416 feet

Marcy Dam Trail is one of several moderate level hiking trails. Less experienced hikers and families can enjoy this beautiful trail near Lake Placid. Part of the path follows along the bank of the lake for some stunning views and great photo opportunities. 

One of the most popular trails in the area, this trail offers several activities along the route. You can even take your dog as long as you keep them on a leash. The trail is an in and out style path approximately 2.1 miles each way. Individuals with physical or respiratory issues can find rest stops along the trail with ease.

Algonquin Trail – to Algonquin Peak and Wright Peak

  • Difficulty: Hard
                
  • Distance Gain: 9.0 miles
        
  • Elevation Gain: 4,064 feet

The Algonquin Trail is another difficult hike on Mount Marcy. Nestled near Lake Placid, this trek is reserved for the most experienced hikers and should only be attempted between spring and early fall. 

One of the key sites along this trail is the scenic view of the Macintyre Range, which is one of the state’s most beautiful peaks. You can start and end your journey from the Adirondack Lodge located on Heart Lake.

This trail is one of the few designated hiking trails in the area that allows visitors direct access to multiple peaks along a single path. This trail is also an in and out trail, so you should be able to complete it over a single day. Depending on how many detours you take for rest and sight-seeing, you can expect the length to be about 4.5 miles each way.

Cobble Hill

  • Difficulty: Easy
       
  • Distance Gain: 2.1 miles
          
  • Elevation Gain: 485 feet

New hikers and those with small children can take in the sights and beauty of the Adirondack Mountains on this well-traveled, looping trail.

At only 2.1 total miles, this trail is perfect for an afternoon amid the trees and can be accessed all-year-round, unlike other trails.

Cobble Hill has been designed explicitly for non-hikers to be able to see the beauty and scenery of the Adirondack Mountains. Unlike other trails, this path is extremely flat and smooth. A bit of excitement can be found by climbing some of the unique rock formations along the sides of the track. 

Due to the family nature of this trail, rules for dogs are strictly enforced. You need to keep them close and on a leash at all times.

Ausable Chasm

  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Distance Gain: 1.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 328 feet

The Ausable Chasm is a great place to find outdoor fun for the whole family. It provides access to several scenic trails, natural bridges, and well-maintained trailheads. There are also several tours available, including raft tours and lantern tours.

You do not have to travel far if you choose to stay in one of the on-site cabins or motel. If you want a more rustic experience, pitch a tent at the campsite, and take in the true feeling of the Adirondack Mountains.

Ausable Chasm is home to several unique species, that natural preservation of the area allows you to see some of these creatures in their natural habitat. Make sure to see the sites both during the day and at night to get a full experience.

Non-hiking Options

If you’re looking for a break from the walking, there are plenty of non-hiking sites to see near Mount Marcy. History buffs will love learning about the rich history of the area, while adventure-seekers will enjoy rafting, amusement parks, and other fun attractions.  

Visit Tahawus

Originally a village in the town of Newcomb, New York, Tahawus was once a booming mining town. This town was one of the centers of mining operations on the East coast. This historical site was where then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt learned of President McKinley’s impending death.

Though very little of the town remains, conservationists have maintained the integrity of the area and even restored one of the oldest homes still standing. Recently, the original furnace stacks were removed, but remnants of the works remain. You should proceed with caution as you check out the area, as there are still pieces of metal fabrication throughout the region.

Visit Roaring Brook Falls

Roaring Brook Falls is the site of the tallest waterfall visible from the road. The water cascades between 290 and 325 feet, depending on where you look. 

While you can easily see the waterfall from multiple points along NY Rte 73, you can see the base of the falls better after a 0.6-mile moderate hike. 

If you choose to stay here to check out the falls, be wary of the road. There have been several accidents involving individuals being struck by wayward cars.

Visit Adirondack Village

Campers of all types will love the sites and amenities offered by the Adirondack Village. This is a fully functional campsite where you can choose to go as traditional as you wish or go glamping in one of the on-site cabins. 

The Adirondack Village offers several deluxe cabins, simple and rustic cabins, as well as large camping areas. There are also 50 fully equipped RV sites available with reservation.

The perfect spot for large groups, the Adirondack Village offers everything you need to enjoy the great outdoors. They’re open from mid-May to Mid-September, so make sure to reserve your spot ahead of time if you plan on camping here.

Visit Hulls Falls

You can’t visit the area without taking in the glorious sight of Hulls Falls. Located just off Route 73, Hulls Falls is a natural 20-foot waterfall. 

In years past, sightseers could make the short trek to the base of the falls. Unfortunately, due to several swimming accidents, reaching the bottom is no longer allowed.

Fun fact: this waterfall has been the site of hundreds of marriage proposals. 

Historical Options

If you’re a history buff, there are plenty of museums and memorials in the Mount Marcy area for you to visit. Here are some of the most interesting historical sites in the area.

Visit Frontier Town

Frontier Town is an abandoned amusement park in the Adirondacks. Built in 1952, a western-themed collection of stagecoaches, horses, and buggies traversed the park and gave visitors a taste of the Wild West in upstate New York. 

Some of the standout attractions of the park included the following:

  • Pioneer Village, a section modeled after frontier towns. 
  • Prairie Junction, which is a replica of the typical Wild West main street. 
  • Indian Village, which had teepees and campfires strewn about the area. 
  • A rodeo arena where bucking horses tries to throw off riders.
  • A narrow gauge railroad with a working train. 

The park operated until its closure in 1998 when a lack of interest in Western-themed stuff caused the flow of visitors to dry up. It now sits overgrown, with the wooden buildings rotting and their ceilings giving way. 

If you do want to hike in here and explore the area, stay on the path and out of the buildings. Many of the wooden boardwalks are falling apart, which leaves you at risk for injury. 

The best way to get to Frontier Town is by traveling to the parking to right next to the Town. The entrance to the parking lot is of of Frontier Town Road, which is near US Route 9.

Visit Hurricane Mountain

Hurricane Mountain boasts a hiking trail and a tour of several fire towers throughout the base of the Adirondacks. You can spend a day viewing the area from the tops of some of these towers. 

Unfortunately, many of the towers have fallen into disrepair, though efforts have been underway to restore the most visible fire towers, including the one at the mountain peak.

When restorations are complete, the hope is that the full set of fire towers that remain will be open to the public and available as part of the Hurricane Mountain tours. For now, you will have to settle for seeing the area from the few towers that are still safe enough to climb. 

Visit Inez Milholland’s Grave

A prominent activist during the first wave of women’s rights, Inez Milholland was one of the most influential women of her time. She was a founding member of the NAACP, the NAWSA, and champion of Child Labor laws. Her gravesite is a popular memorial site among admirers and historians of all walks of life, especially those moved by women’s rights activism.

Sports and Leisure Activities

Home to the 1980 Winter Olympic Games, the Adirondack Mountains provide a wide range of sporting activities, including skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and several types of rock climbing. 

If you have a family with young children and are unable to take part in these more intense activities, there are some more leisurely activities you can do as well. 

Here are some of the best sport and leisure opportunities to take advantage of when you visit the Mount Marcy area.

Check out Mt. Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex

Built for the 1980 Winter Olympics, the Mr. Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex is open to visitors of all ages throughout the majority of the year. 

You can enjoy cross country skiing on several trails thanks to their more than 120 inches (on average) of snowfall annually. 

The Olympic Complex also offers snowshoeing, skiing lessons, and plenty of other activities.

Just a short distance away, you can also check out the bobsled and luge complex that was also part of the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. You can also view the full range of Olympic memorabilia throughout the Olympic Complex and surrounding areas.

See the Olympic Ski Jump

If you are an avid skier and want to take the ultimate leap, head on over to the well-maintained Olympic Ski Jump. This jump is the actual jump used in the 1980 Olympic Games and still pulls in ski jumpers from all over to test their nerves and their skill. 

For those a bit less adventurous, there are several smaller ski jumps located nearby for training and practice purposes. Stick around long enough, and you might catch an Olympic hopeful pulling some particularly crazy tricks.

Go to Alpine Adventures

Have you ever dared test your skills on a real rock climb? 

At Alpine Adventures, you can try your luck at rock climbing, ice climbing, or even backcountry skiing. Your group can use the available guides to make your way through the area. Ran by avid adventurists, Alpine Adventures only accepts a select number of clients these days. So if you are lucky to get a spot, take full advantage of their skills and expertise.

Try John Mackey Climbing

Every rock climber has to start somewhere. At John Mackey Climbing, you get to learn from the best in the sport. Whether you are looking to take on traditional rock climbing, or want to attempt the more difficult ice climbing path, you will learn everything you need to know to climb safely. 

Check out Tamarack Mountain Guiding

The adventure awaits thanks to Tamarack Mountain Guiding: a guided tours company that specialized in the Adirondack Mountains. 

Whether you want to check out some challenging rock walls or backpack across one of several of the area trails, they will are an excellent choice of guide. Fully trained staff offer expertise in everything from hiking, camping, backpack, rock climbing, and more. 

Visit Whiteface Mountain

The best skiing in the area can be found on Whiteface Mountain, one of New York’s most beautiful summits. It’s the only ski resort to offer a full 360-degree view of the Adirondack Mountains. 

Whiteface Mountain offers skiing opportunities for individuals of all skill levels. There is even an area set aside just for the little ones, called Bear Den Mountain.

Cross country skiers can enjoy any of the 88 trails, or take a gondola ride. Nine independent chairlifts are available so that you can save your energy for the powder. 

Visit the Wild Center and Wild Walk

The Wild Center is a 115-acre natural resource center that features activities for the whole family. Take a walk among the trees in their elevated trail, or check out one of the live exhibits. There are guided tours, canoe trips, and more than 1000 feet of bridges and platforms (if heights don’t bother you). 

Kids will love the four-story tree house and swinging bridges. A huge bald eagle nest gives visitors a chance to catch a unique view of the Adirondack Mountains. You can also dine at the Center’s Café or check out the museum. 

Amusement Parks

Many people, including families, are drawn to amusement parks, and the Mount Marcy area has plenty of them to offer.

 Whether you are looking for thrilling rollercoaster rides or want a truly novel experience, there is an amusement park that will fit the bill. 

Here are two of our favorite amusement parks, unique in what they have to offer and built for visitors of all ages.

Visit Santa’s Workshop

If you have young kids with you, I recommend spending a day or two at Santa’s Workshop. This park has been in operation since 1949 and was one of the first amusement parks to open for business in the US. 

Due to the need for authenticity, the park is only open from June to December. 

The little ones can take in several exciting experiences, including Breakfast with Santa, or a trip through Santa’s Workshop. If you are lucky, you may even get to feed the reindeer! 

Santa’s Workshop offers unique experiences for individuals of all ages, not just kids. A full restaurant and gift shop are also available for you. If you buy something at the gift shop, gift wrapping and special Christmas delivery are available as well.

Check out the Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course

An exciting day among the trees awaits you at the Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course. They offer aerial treetop adventure courses, which are obstacle courses where the obstacles are suspended between trees. If you try out one of these courses, you’ll be strapped into a safety harness to ensure you don’t get hurt. 

Some of the obstacles available on the courses include scramble nets, zip lines, airborne bridges, swinging logs, and much more. 

Seven courses of varying difficulty allow visitors of all ages to fly among the trees. The courses cover over 1.5 miles and get harder as you move along. 

The course requires signing a safety waiver, so be prepared and print that off before you go to save some time. Individuals with seizure disorders or some physical limitations are unfortunately not allowed to take part in the Adventure Course, due to insurance restrictions. 

You’ll also need to be less than 310 pounds and have a waist of 42 inches or less to use the course. Anyone bigger than this won’t be able to strap into the harness safely. 

Go Shopping

No vacation is complete without some quality shopping. Here are a few of the best shopping options near Mount Marcy. 

Visit The Mountaineer

The Mountaineer is a signature outdoor sports store located in Keene Valley, just a short hop from Mount Marcy. The Mountaineer carries all the supplies necessary for whatever adventure you want to enjoy in the area: 

  • Skiing gear (skis, poles, boots, avalanche transceivers, and more)
  • Hiking gear (backpacks, food canisters, medical kits, headlamps, gaiters, trekking poles, hammocks, tents, sleeping bags, and more)
  • Ice climbing gear (ice picks, crampons, ice screws, leashes, toolboxes, and more)
  • Rock climbing gear (ropes, rappel devices, ultralights, portaledges, couloirs, helmets, carabiners, and more)
  • Fishing gear (rods, tackle boxes, and more)

No matter what kind of adventure gear you need, The Mountaineer is sure to have it.

Throughout the year, The Mountaineer also hosts to several unique and educational events, perfect for spending an afternoon and getting to know the locals. Some of the most popular events include Octoberfest and the Season of Lights. Live shows are often available throughout the Spring and Summer as well.

Shop at The Birch Store

Souvenirs and fine gifts are available at The Birch Store, the go-to spot for unique and funky gifts from the Adirondack Mountains. Each piece of their inventory has been hand-selected by retailers that love the Adirondack Mountains. Here are a few of the item categories they have for sale:

  • Men’s clothes (mainly belts, hats, and socks)
  • Women’s clothes (includes shirts, pants, scarves, bags, socks, and other choices)
  • Children’s clothes and toys (includes stuffed animals, animal-themed shirts, storybooks, and more)
  • Gifts for pets (mainly collars and leashes)
  • A collection of locally made soaps
  • A wide range of handmade jewelry from local artists
  • A library of books about the Adirondacks

The Birch Store also features several ones of a kind gifts made by local artists. It’s absolutely worth checking out, even if you want to browse.

Shop at Dartbrook Rustic Goods

Antique lovers and flea market aficionados will love a stop at Dartbrook Rustic Goods. Located in the heart of Adirondack Park, this store is filled with handmade furniture and camping accessories. You can check out their full line of home décor and gift items, each handpicked for the adventurer in all of us. 

Here are a few of the item categories for sale at Dartbrook Rustic Goods:

  • Wooden bed frames
  • Oil paintings from local artists
  • Artisan knotted wool rugs
  • Storage items (includes cabinets, hutches, bookcases, shelves, dressers, and nightstands)
  • Seating (includes armchairs, benches, stools, bar chairs, rocking chairs, and sofas)
  • Lighting (includes chandeliers, table lamps, and floor lamps)

This store brings together the love of the outdoors with the desire for fine furnishings, Dartbrook Rustic Goods has a large enough selection, you are sure to find something perfect for anyone on your gift list. Be good to yourself and pick up something to keep as well. 

Visit High Falls Gorge

High Falls Gorge offers the most beautiful little walk you can find in the Adirondack Mountains. This privately owned nature park provides something for individuals of all ages. Take in the scenic views of a beautiful waterfall as it plunges over the granite cliff, carved millions of years ago. 

High Falls Gorge is also home to some of the best food and gift shops in the area. The experience changes from season to season, so you will need to make a return trip to get even a small sample of everything the Gorge has to offer.

Final Thoughts

The activities mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg for things to do in and around beautiful Mount Marcy. 

Whether you are taking in the scenery on a short vacation or looking to check out some of the local life, Mount Marcy has something for everyone. Many of the surrounding cities and towns offer some of their own unique events, so be sure to check out the immediate area before booking your trip as well.

No matter where you go or what you choose to see and experience, the area surrounding Mount Marcy is one of the most beautiful and entertaining spots in all of the United States.

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