The Best Fall Foliage Views in the Adirondacks

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New York was the first stop on my solo road trip in the Northeast and seeing the fall colors in the Adirondacks was definitely one of the highlights. It was the first time on the East Coast I felt inspired by the mountains.

I was lucky enough to catch the leaves at their peak so each hike and viewpoint I went to was just jaw dropping!

Keep reading below on how to get to the Adirondacks, my favorite hikes & viewpoints, when to see peak fall foliage, and unique things to do. Plus- how to score permits to do the famous Indian Head hike!

Want more fall foliage content? Check out my post on spending 2 Days in Acadia National Park in the Fall. contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I believe in. Read my disclaimer for more information.

Planning your trip? Use my favorite resources!

Accommodation: I recommend to find the best deals on hotels.
Flights: I recommend Skyscanner to look for the best prices and deals on flights.
Rental cars: I recommend DiscoverCars to shop around at multiple car rental agencies and get the best deal.
Travel insurance: I recommend Safety Wing; keep your trips insured to protect yourself while traveling.
Tours/experiences: I recommend Viator and Get Your Guide!

Follow The 7 Leave No Trace Principles

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Be courteous of others

Find out more about Leave No Trace here.

Best Time to See Peak Fall Foliage

A number of factors play into exactly when the colors will change such as temperature change, wind, and that year’s rainfall or any drought. The colors can change dramatically in a matter of a day.

The best time to see this particular area where all these hikes are mentioned is the last week of September to the first week of October.

My trip to the Adirondacks was October 5-7 and the colors were perfect and pretty much at their peak.

You can visit this helpful website to keep track of the leaves and when they are expected to reach peak color.

How to get to the Adirondacks

The closest international airport to the Adirondacks is in Plattsburgh, though they don’t fly from many places. Your best bet is to fly to JFK International Airport in New York City.

It will take you 4 hours to get to the Adirondacks by car from New York City if you fly into JFK.

If you are going to more destinations in the Northeast for leaf peeping and fall foliage, another option is to fly into Boston. It takes 5 hours to drive from Boston to the Adirondack mountains.

You must have a car to enjoy the Adirondacks as there is not reliable transportation in this remote area.

Best hikes for Fall Foliage Views in the Adirondacks

Mount Jo

Mount Jo was my first hike in the Adirondacks and it was a straight stunner.

I enjoyed a sunset here and would highly recommend the hike for either sunrise or sunset as the glow of the sun really lights up the fall foliage. It is steep

The hike is 2 miles roundtrip with 700ft elevation gain. Find the AllTrails map and recent reviews here.

Indian Head

The most popular hike to see fall colors in the Adirondacks, maybe even the country, is Indian Head! I have to say- it lives up to the hype of being on every Instagram influencer’s page.

The hike is about 11 miles roundtrip and 2000ft elevation gain. About half of the hike is on a road through a private property. Overall, as someone who hikes often this was a rather leisurely hike and I found the elevation gain very gradual.

I started the trail in the early afternoon with plans to see the sunset. I had a few hours to kill at the top, but this was nice because I got to see the viewpoint in a few different lightings.

In the afternoon light you can see the fall colors shining brightly, but enjoying the sunset was worth it as well.

How to reserve an Indian Head Permit

Keep in mind, you have to reserve a permit for this hike May 1- October 31 with the Adirondack Mountain Reserve.

Don’t think about trying to bypass it without a permit- there are gates into and out of the parking lot and where you start the trail, as well as a parking guard that checks your permit.

To reserve a permit: Log in to your AMR account and make a reservation exactly 2 weeks in advance from when you plan to hike. Reservations open at 12PM each day. For example, if you want to do the hike on October 14, you would log in on September 30 at 12PM to make your reservation. You must pick a time with your reservation as well.

Find the AllTrails map and recent reviews here.

Giant’s Nubble

On my second day in the Adirondacks, I hiked the Giant’s Nubble for sunrise. I feel like this is an underrated hike, overshadowed by Mount Jo and Indian Head.

The top was unique and had mountain views for miles and miles. During the sunrise, the fall colors just glowed. I was the only person up at the top and I enjoyed solitude for over an hour.

The hike is 2.6 miles roundtrip with 1165ft elevation gain. Find the AllTrails map and recent reviews here.

Best Viewpoints for Fall Foliage Views

Connery Pond

I woke up on my third and final morning to mist and clouds after it had rained all night. I thought the day would be a wash since rain was forecasted much of the the rest of the day.

Almost like fate I got a message on Instagram from someone who recommended I go to Connery Pond. I decided ‘What the heck I might as well check it out despite the weather.’

And man was I glad I did!

I caught perfect conditions here as the sun started to come out, there were beautiful low lying clouds, AND a picture- perfect reflection of the trees in the pond.

I was all alone at this spot, and it was one of my favorite memories of my trip because it was so last minute and unexpected. Plus the view and conditions were absolutely unreal.

Unique things to do in the Fall in the Adirondacks

Kayak Lake Placid

The Adirondack region has so many lakes to choose from if you want to get on a kayak or canoe and see the foliage from a different perspective!

I went to Lake Placid and rented a kayak for a few hours from Captain Marney’s Boat Rental.

When I started I had sun and relatively clear skies but within an hour the clouds rolled in and I actually got rained on while I was out on the lake.

In spite of getting rained on it was still amazing to be out on the lake and I would highly recommend getting on the water if you’re in the Adirondacks!

Packing List for the Adirondacks

  • Lightweight, moisture wicking clothes for hitting the hiking trails.
  • Layers for chilly mornings and evenings- I love my Eddie Bauer puffy jacket because it is lightweight, packs well, and keeps me warm.
  • Water, snacks, and electrolyte tabs to keep yourself hydrated & healthy on hikes.
  • Day hiking backpack. I love my Osprey daypack which has lasted me years and dozens of hikes.
  • Hiking boots- I love my Columbia Newton Ridge Waterproof hiking boots. They’re affordable and have lasted me dozens of hikes so far including backpacking trips.

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