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Backpacker Magazine – November 2010

Best Hikes Ever: Northville-Placid Trail, Ny

Explore the Adirondack's valleys.

by: Kelly Bastone

Blue Mountain Lake, just off the Northville-Placid Trail. (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Blue Mountain Lake, just off the Northville-Placid Trail. (Pat & Chuck Blackley)

Backcountry guide Anne LaBastille lived in New York’s Adirondacks for 15 years before attempting the Northville-Placid Trail, a 133-mile route bisecting the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park from north to south (“Across the Adirondacks,” June 1977). The historic, lightly trod trail bypasses the park’s high summits, trading big views for deep solitude. The path connects one serene mountain lake after another—you’ll hear loons every night—and, in autumn, passes through an amber forest of innumerable birch and maple trees. The trail remains the same as LaBastille found it 33 years ago, offering real wilderness refuge and a diamond-spike of solitude just hours from the East’s most crowded cities.

Do it From Northville, the first 10 miles follow roads before tapering to a footpath and meandering past lakes to Piseco (a post office enables resupply). From there, the trail traverses the West Canada Lakes Wilderness, one of the park’s most remote, before continuing past Wakely Dam to Long Lake (where some hikers choose to begin; no northbound resupply is available). Then it’s 40 more miles through the High Peaks section, passing sidehike options to Mt. Marcy and Indian Pass, before finally arriving in Lake Placid.


From Saratoga Springs, take NY 29 west for 23 miles, turn right on NY 30 and go 15 miles to Northville. Shuttle Northville Placid Shuttle (price varies,

USGS quads Lake Pleasant, Piseco, West Canada Lakes, Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Long Lake, and Santanoni ($8 each,; Hiking New York, by Rhonda & George Ostertag ($19,

(518) 668-4447;

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Reader Rating: Star Star Star Star Star


Star Star Star Star Star
Mike Russo
Aug 28, 2013

I just thru hiked the NPT earlier this summer. My favorite spot would have to be camping at the northernmost end of Tirrell pond. It's kinda not an allowed campsite but I couldn't resist and you would never know I was there. Hammock camping. Duck hole dam ruptured during Hurricane Irene so the entire pond is drained and is quite a spectacle. Camping anywhere along the stretch of the trail that runs along Long Lake is great also. And I agree with Bored Reader's comment above. Blue Mountain lake is hardly worth the main photo for this trail. There are some great campsites at the trailhead in Blue Mountain lake. Actually theres 2 trailheads. One takes you to Lake Durant campground and the other one (the route I took) takes you to Durant rd and the cemetery. I found French Louie's cave near Cedar river. Anyway, the Adirondacks are great. My favorite area is the NW section (Five Ponds)

Star Star Star
Richard R
Feb 14, 2013

The section of the trail that runs from Piseco (32.6 miles) to wakely dam is definitely a very remote area. This stretch was home to an Unltramarathon for over 10 years. I can attest to the beauty as on my first try at the ultra, i found myself gauking around at the beauty of this place and it slowed my time considerably. Put it on your bucket list to take a week and do the trail from south to north and enjoy the serenity there.

Steve C
Aug 30, 2011

A nice partial-loop is to start at the Pillsbury Mtn parking lot, head north on the Cedar Lake trail (trail name?) to the NPT. Then west and south back to the town of Piseco. About 29 miles with scenic and remote travel. Best are the Cedar Lake lean-to #3 and Spruce Lake lean-to #3 with fantastic views. The trails are wet, so be prepared.

Aug 25, 2011

Finished 6 days on this trail. It's beautiful and full of wildlife. Don't forget your gaiters!! It can be wet.

bored reader
Jun 14, 2011

how pathetic that backpacker is so lazy when it comes to the adirondacks that they continually revert to roadside photos from blue mountain lake. do you ever go into the backcountry while you're there??

Tall Tom
Nov 25, 2010

A new website has been put together devoted to the Northville Placid Trail - Latest Trail Conditions and Hike Planning Information as well as an electronic way to report trail conditions after your hike.


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