13 Amazing Things to Do in the Adirondacks for Fall

Post summary: 13 best things to do in the Adirondacks in fall.

Thinking of visiting the Adirondacks this fall? I’m here to tell you that fall is the best time to experience this part of Upstate New York.

In fact, the Adirondack Mountains put on some of the most impressive fall foliage displays in the entire country. Nature lovers and photographers visit from all over the world to see the mountains turns brilliant shades of scarlet, gold, and orange.

But it’s not just about the fall foliage — fall also offers serene hikes, rushing waterfalls, and picturesque lake views that make for an incredible trip.

In this blog, I’ll guide you through my top picks for things to do in the Adirondacks for fall. With each recommendation, I’ll sprinkle in some local tips and insights to make sure you have the most memorable adventure.

Let’s dive in!

Tip: Want to go beyond the Adirondacks? Find more places to see the fall foliage in Upstate New York.

Guides to help you plan your trip to the Adirondacks in the fall

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What to Pack for a Day Hike: Essential Gear and Complete Packing List

15 Useful Apps to Download Before Your Next Road Trip (for Free!)

When To Visit the Adirondacks in the Fall?

Did you know that the Adirondacks region has one of the longest fall foliage seasons in the country? This allows you to enjoy this time of year at a peaceful pace. Mark your dates between late September and mid-October if you want to visit the Adirondacks for fall foliage.

Peak season for fall foliage in the Adirondacks usually falls around the first-second week in October and lasts for about 3-4 days. However, since Adirondack Park is so big, some areas change sooner than others.

Generally, Lake Placid changes first, followed by Lake George and then Old Forge.

If you don’t mind missing the peak season for fall foliage (which I’d argue against), you can visit anytime from late September to early November.

I recommend checking I Love NYs Fall Foliage Tracker for the most up-to-date information on how fast leaves are changing across the Adirondacks.

Aerial photograph of the Adirondack Mountains in the fall

How To Get to the Adirondacks Mountains?

A scenic fall road trip is a great way to get to the Adirondack region. The Central Adirondack Trail (150 miles), High Peaks Byway (30 miles), Olympic Trail (170 miles), and Lakes to Lock Passage (225 miles) are popular routes that pass through the Adirondacks.

If you choose to fly, here are five U.S. airports closest to the Adirondacks:

  • Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
  • Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR)
  • Albany International Airport (ALB)
  • Burlington International Airport (BTV)
  • Adirondack Regional Airport (SLK)

All of the above airports have rental cars for you to explore the region easily.

Tip: The Adirondack Park is MASSIVE so the best airport definitely depends on which area you’re visiting.

Waterfall in the Adirondack Mountains during the fall

Top 13 Things to Do in the Adirondacks in the Fall

Let’s jump straight into some of the most unmissable things to do in the Adirondacks this fall.

1. Go Maple Syrup Tasting

Did you know that New York State is the second largest producer of maple syrup in the United States, just behind Vermont?

The Sugar Maple tree is the official state tree of New York, which is found in abundance across the Adirondacks. The tree produces the sweetest sap of all maple trees and turns vibrant shades of red and yellow.

Even though the sugaring season and NY Maple weekend take place in March, some maple farms in the Adirondacks operate year-round. This allows you to sample the “liquid gold” and take in the stunning oranges and reds of the fall foliage simultaneously.

The Uihlein Maple Research Forest field station near Lake Placid is a great place to start. The 200+ acre forest is part of Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and plays a crucial role in researching sugar maples. Here, you can tour the outdoor lab, learn about local syrup production and taste maple (and birch!) syrup at any time of year.

2. Escape to a Cozy Cabin in the Woods

There’s nothing like a cozy cabin in the middle of the woods to provide you with a much-needed off-the-grid escape from everyday life.

The Adirondacks have no shortage of cabins, from tiny homes near hiking trails to A-frame chalets near lakes.

Fall in the Adirondacks is the BEST time to book yourself a cabin, but you need to book well in advance. September – mid October is high season in the Adirondacks and cabins fill up months ahead of time.

Start planning your cabin getaway now with these 17 cozy cabins to rent in the Adirondacks.

Lakeside cabin in Upstate New York

3. Go Leaf Peeping in Lake Placid

Lake Placid is one of the most incredible areas to see fall foliage in Upstate New York. In fact, fall foliage in the Adirondacks is some of the best in the entire country.

Take in the fall foliage display from atop a low summit, such as Indian Head, or rent a kayak and explore the lakes and rivers that pepper the Adirondack landscape.

You’ll love: Discover more of Lake Placid with these amazing hikes

Fall foliage in the Adirondacks in Upstate New York

4. Explore the Corn Maze at Fort Ticonderoga

Fort Ticonderoga is a historical landmark famous for its capture in the Revolutionary War. Today, you can visit and experience everything from museums, educational tours, boat cruises, majestic gardens, and adorable animals.

It’s the ideal fall activity since the attraction is open for daily visitation from May through October. Plus, it’s home to Heroic Corn Maze, which is literally the perfect way to spend a fall day.

Tip: If you come here, make sure you also explore the King’s Garden and go apple picking!

5. Hike to Indian Head

If you’ve opened Instagram during the fall, you’ve definitely seen pictures of this hike. Indian Head is the quintessential fall hike in the Adirondacks and has one of the most recognizable views in Upstate New York.

With its unique view of Lower Ausable Lake and the surrounding High Peaks, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best things to do in the Adirondacks this fall.

Heads up though – this hike is a long one. At almost 11 miles round trip, you definitely need to be in decent shape to complete it.

Indian Head is also located on the Adirondack Mountain Reserve and you need a permit before you go.

I broke down everything you need to know about this iconic Adirondack hike in my Complete Guide to Indian Head.

Hiking Indian Head is one of the best things to do in the Adirondacks for fall

6. Take a Scenic Drive Through the Adirondacks

No hiking necessary for this one! Just hop in the car and take in all the best fall foliage in the Adirondacks from behind the windshield on a scenic drive.

One of my favorite parts of driving through the Adirondacks in the fall is passing through small mountain towns and past the most beautiful lakeside views lined in fall colors.

That said, here are some of my top choices for leaf-peeping drives in the Adirondacks:

  • High Peaks Scenic Byway (Route 73 from Keene to Lake Placid): Views of the Adirondack High Peaks region, lakes, hiking, and cute maple syrup stands.
  • Central Adirondack Trail (Route 28 from Lake Placid to Old Forge): A 53 mile drive connecting wilderness areas and small mountain towns through the Central Adirondacks.
  • Olympic Trail Scenic Byway (Route 9N – 86): A gorgeous 33-mile drive from Keesville to Lake Placid with dense forests and views of the Ausable River.
  • Route 9N: A charming drive through the Adirondack Mountains for fall foliage, traveling along the western shore of Lake George up to Ticonderoga.
  • Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway: A scenic drive to the top of Prospect Mountain with views of Lake George, the Green Mountains in Vermont, and the Adirondack High Peaks.
  • Blue Ridge Road Scenic Byway (County Road 2B, Boreas Road): A nearly 20-mile stretch between North Hudson and Newcomb with breathtaking fall foliage views.

Best things to do in the Adirondacks for Fall: Scenic Drives

7. Explore Ausable Chasm

Known as the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks, Ausable Chasm is definitely one of the best things to do in the Adirondacks in the Fall.

It’s one of the prettiest places to see fall foliage, but you can also make a whole day of your visit by adding on other activities like rappelling, rock climbing, and river rafting.

Prepare to get sweaty, though, as a trip here often includes climbing, traversing natural stone walkways, and crossing cable bridges over the Ausable River.

8. Go Apple Picking at Lake George

Lake George offers some of the Adirondacks’ best scenery and accommodation options. But it’s also a great spot to view fall foliage and discover some exciting things to do.

Apple picking is a classic fall tradition in Lake George, as the area boasts several quaint orchids. Besides picking apple varieties like McIntosh, Empire and Cortland, you can also collect fresh local produce such as cider, jam, honey and donuts. Saratoga Apple, Inc., Rulfs Orchard LLC, McWhorter’s Orchard and Banker Orchards are great options in and around Lake George for fall apple picking.

Finally, Go to Lake George Distilling Co. or High Peaks Distilling LLC for a taste of hand-crafted spirits and brews.

9. Go on a Rail Bike Tour

An Adirondack rail bike tour is a fun way to see the natural beauty of the Adirondack Mountains in the fall.

For those wondering, a rail bike is a custom-made four-wheel vehicle with pedals, two or four seats, and disc brakes that roll along railroad tracks. Enjoy a leisurely pace through scenic spots to take in the fall foliage.

Adirondack Railbike Adventures offers two tours in Thendara (Old Forge) along a river called the River Run and through the forest, the Timber Ridge. The Raquette Rambler tour is a round trip with mountain scenery offered in Tupper Lake.

10. Wander Through Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake is a charming village in New York State with a small population of less than 5,000 people. Named after – you guessed it – Saranac Lake, this part of the Adirondacks is a must see during the fall.

Saranac Lake is also home to the Saranac 6er Challenge, where you can hike six beautiful peaks that surround Saranac Lake.

A few of my personal favorites are:

These hikes are ideal for fall because they’re a lot less crowded than the trails around Lake Placid and they’re all at lower elevations, which is best for seeing fall colors.

Maple leaves in fall

11. Chase Waterfalls at High Falls Gorge

High Falls Gorge is a short hike near Lake Placid and is one of the most accessible and photogenic waterfalls to visit in the Adirondacks in the fall.

High Falls Gorge consists of four waterfalls that tumble into a granite crevice that was carved out over 1 billion years ago.

With sturdy bridges, glass floor walkways, and well maintained paths hugging the gorge, High Falls Gorge is great for all skill levels and an excellent spot for waterfall photography.

The best part? You can easily complete this hike in under an hour, so it makes a perfect stop in your busy fall itinerary.

Visit their website for up-to-date info on hours, closures, and entrance fees.

12. Explore Saratoga Spa State Park

While not part of the Adirondack Park, Saratoga Spa State Park (SPAC) is the perfect place to stretch your legs en route from NYC to the Adirondacks in the fall.

This charming city has it all and is definitely worth a stop if you’re passing through.

One of our favorite things to do is walk the wooded trails in Saratoga Spa State Park followed by sticky buns at Bread Basket Bakery and boutique shopping along Broadway in downtown Saratoga.

And while you’re there, don’t forget to fill up your water bottle at the freshwater springs in the park. The State Seal Spring has the best tasting water – and it’s free!

13. Stop By Mirror Lake

My last recommendation is yet another excellent spot to see fall foliage in the Lake Placid region.

Mirror Lake is the lake in the center of the town of Lake Placid. It’s beautiful all year round and even made my list of best things to do in Lake Placid in the summer. But Mirror Lake is especially picture-perfect when the leaves around the lake change color in the fall.

Here’s how you can enjoy your time at Mirror Lake in the fall:

  1. Rent a kayak, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, pedal boats, and aqua bikes for $30/hour from Downstairs Boat Rental. Most boat rentals are available through mid-October
  2. Walk the 2.7 mile loop around Mirror Lake. Your walk around Mirror Lake takes you past the beach, through the business district and past the beautiful homes that line the shore of Mirror Lake.
  3. Visit Lake Placid Public Beach on the south end of Mirror Lake. It’s only open for swimming in the summer, but you can still sit and take in the views of the lake year round.

Accommodation Options in the Adirondacks

Did you think I’d let you visit the Adirondacks without you knowing where to stay? Below are some of my top picks for stellar hotels in the region.

The Inn of Lake George

The Inn of Lake George is an elegant boutique hotel Near Shepard’s Park and Lake George Dog Beach. The rooms have plush beds with contemporary design elements, air conditioning and a flat-screen TV. There’s an onsite bar, lovely outdoor seating areas, and lake views.

Book on Booking.com

Lake Placid Inn Boutique Hotel

Stay at the modern and conveniently located Lake Placid Inn. This boutique hotel is surrounded by the natural beauty of Lake Placid and offers amenities and facilities worth four stars. These include a gym area, ski storage, coffee machines in each room, and daily breakfast.

Book on Booking.com

Pssst: Prefer Airbnbs? Check out these fantastic 3 women-run Airbnbs in the Adirondacks.

If hotels are more your vibe, here’s a list of 12 Best Hotels in Lake Placid.

Cabin in the woods in Upstate New York

Tips for Visiting the Adirondack Mountains in the Fall

Ready to explore the Adirondacks this fall? These essential tips and tricks will help you have the best time:

  • Check AllTrails and download maps before you head out on a long hike. AllTrails reviews can give you updated information on current trail conditions or road closures. Offline maps are for navigation purposes, which is part of the essential gear you should always have with you for every hike.
  • Tell people where you’re going. Let someone know which trail you’re taking through an Adirondack park and how long you plan to be gone. Also make sure to sign in at trail registers before and after your hike.
  • Leave No Trace. Follow the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace to keep wild areas pristine and beautiful for generations to come. This includes: staying on the marked trails, respecting wildlife and other hikers, and packing out all of your trash (even apple cores and orange peels!).
  • Pack right for the fall season. The average temperature for a typical day in the fall ranges from a high of 57°F (14°C) to a low of 39°F (4°C). Pack layers, like warm sweaters, a windbreaker, and proper hiking boots.

Adirondack Fall Guide: FAQs

Still unsure about a few things? Check out the answers to some of the most popular questions about fall in the Adirondacks.

Is Lake Placid Worth Visiting in the Fall?

100% yes. Lake Placid is worth visiting in any season, but this area is especially popular in the fall for hiking, breweries, and shopping.

Is Lake George Fun in the Fall?

Lake George is another strong contender for the best place to visit in the Adirondacks during fall. Besides vibrant old-growth forests, there’s plenty to keep you busy, such as the House of Frankenstein Wax Museum and Fort William Henry.

What Is the Prettiest Part of the Adirondacks?

This question is tough to answer, but you can’t go wrong with the stunning views around Lake Placid and the Central Adirondacks.


Spend Your Next Fall in the Adirondacks

Are you sold yet? I bet you’re ready to pack your bags, and I don’t blame you. The Adirondacks and Fall go together so well that it’s easy to forget what it looks like in summer or winter.

I hope this guide helps you craft an itinerary filled with tons of exciting adventures and unmissable sights.

From scenic drives and rail biking to beautiful fall hikes, waterfalls, and syrup tasting, you’re guaranteed to have the most memorable trip to the Adirondacks in the fall.

Did you enjoy this guide to the best things to do in the Adirondacks for fall? Let me know in the comments!

More Upstate New York Travel Guides:

Adirondack hiking: Short Hikes With Incredible Views in the Adirondacks

Upstate New York hikes: 20 Bucket List Hikes in Upstate New York for Every Skill Level

Lake Placid hikes: 10+ Amazing Hikes Near Lake Placid in the Adirondacks

Summer in Lake Placid: Top Things to Do in Lake Placid NY in the Summer

NY Wineries: 15+ Hudson Valley Wineries and Vineyards You Need to Visit in NY


Jackie - Adventure Travel Blogger and Author at The Adventures Atlas
( Adventure Travel Expert )

Hi, I’m Jackie! I’m a travel photographer and content creator based near the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. I’m also a millennial who works full-time, yet I still find ways to travel frequently without breaking the bank, because traveling is what makes me feel most alive. Now I help fellow travelers who also work 9-5 and are looking for ways to travel more with limited PTO.

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