Fall in Adirondacks: Foliage Drives & Things to Do

Beautiful Village of Lake Placid with fall colors at Adirondack Mountains New York State

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The Adirondack Mountains, also known as the Adirondacks, lie in the northeastern part of New York and are well-known for their lush forests, lakes, rivers, and many options for outdoor recreation.

Due to its natural beauty, the region makes a great destination in the autumn, especially for those looking for leaf-peeping opportunities and other fall-worthy activities.

If you’re planning to visit, this guide will explore the exciting things to do during fall in Adirondacks, including the best spots to see the foliage, camping, pumpkin picking, corn mazes, fall hikes, and more!

Also included is a fall foliage map so you can track the best time to see the peak fall colors in the area.

For more nature adventures, try our guide to NY state parks.

You may also like our guide to New York in fall.

Things to Do in the Adirondacks in the Fall

Begin your autumn adventure in the Adirondacks with one of the many fun activities listed below.

Camping in NY State Parks

The New York State Parks are a great place to spend in the Adirondack Mountains in the fall, and camping in one of the parks is a fun fall activity. 

You can head to Cumberland Bay State Park to camp while enjoying its natural sand beach and spacious playing fields.

The park is located on the west shore of Lake Champlain and is often visited by cross-country runners in the fall. 

Note: NY campsites close in early fall, typically between Labor Day and mid-September; consider this when planning your fall Adirondacks vacation.

Macomb Reservation State Park

Macomb Reservation State Park provides a thrilling wilderness experience and is located alongside the Salmon River’s path into Lake Champlain.

Electric and non-electric wooded campsites are featured in the area as well as picnic spots and playing fields.

This location is also great for enjoying the cool autumn air as well as the changing leaf colors.

Lake Champlain

One of the major lakes in the Adirondacks is Lake Champlain, which offers a variety of activities like boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and picnics.

The lake’s surrounding lush vegetation provides excellent views of the changing leaf colors in the fall.

Lake Champlain also features in our guide to lakefront rentals in Vermont.

View of the Adirondacks across Lake Champlain from Burlington

High Falls Gorge

If you want a cool place to hike, find a gorge in the Adirondacks, like High Falls Gorge (4761 NYS Route 86, Wilmington).

The 22-acre park has a trail that goes through the gorge adjacent to Whiteface Mountain and the Ausable River. 

You can admire the fall colors over the river and gorge and pass some scenic vantage points that are great for fall pictures.

Fall foliage along the Ausable River and High Falls Gorge, Adirondacks, New York

Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride

The best way to see Whiteface Mountain fall foliage is on a Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride (5021 NY-86, Wilmington). 

You can ride the gondolas through early October, and the 15-minute trip takes you over the colorful Adirondacks. 

Then, at the peak of the mountain, you can admire Lake Placid and the mountains from the observation deck.

If you choose to, you can also get to the top of the mountain by driving along the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. 

Admire the Foliage from a Lake

For something a little more lowkey, you can take a boat ride out onto one of the lakes in the Adirondacks and see the foliage from there. 

You can bring or rent a boat or a kayak and choose one of the lakes. 

Lake Placid usually gets the first bout of peak foliage in late September or early October.

Enjoy the fresh autumn air and majestic nature views while you’re there.

Beautiful Village of Lake Placid with fall colors at Adirondack Mountains New York State

Overlook at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex

The Olympic Ski Jumping Complex (52 Ski Jump Ln, Lake Placid) is one of the best places to see fall foliage in the Adirondacks.

First, you take the Skyride gondola from the base of the complex to the ski jump towers. 

Then, hop in the glass elevator, where you can enjoy the panoramic views as you go up, and the best sights at the top, where you see the foliage and mountains from above.

Cobble Lookout Trail

The Cobble Lookout Trail is a 1.3-mile hiking trail by Lake Placid. 

At the end of the trail is an amazing outlook of Ausable Valley, and it is one of the best spots to see the Adirondack Mountains’ fall foliage.

The valley will be filled with colorful trees, as will some of the mountains.

Tucker Farms, Inc.

Tucker Farms (64 Hobart Rd, Gabriels) is a fun place to go in the Adirondacks in October for fall activities. 

They have an annual corn maze that is open from mid-August to the end of October. 

Aside from the maze, they also have live music and plenty of events like brewing days and fright night for Halloween.

Indian Head Trail

Indian Head Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Adirondack Mountains in October. 

The trail is located south of Lake Placid, and you need a permit to hike it if you plan to go between May and October. 

One of the most popular trails is the 10.8-mile loop trail, which is breathtaking in the fall and takes you to Rainbow Falls. 

Whetstone Gulf State Park

Whetstone Gulf State Park (6065 West Rd.) is a 515-acre park located in the middle of the Adirondacks and offers opportunities for taking in the beautiful fall foliage.

It is built around built in and around a three-mile-long gorge cut into the eastern edge of the Tug Hill Plateau and situated east of the Rocky Mountains.

Hiking and camping are available in the park up until mid-September, as well as fishing and boating.

You can bring your pets with you but they should be put on a leash.

Lake Durant Campground

Lake Durant Campground (98301 State Route 28 & 30) is another excellent location for camping in the fall and features the majestic views of Blue Mountain.

Visitors will find it easy to relax and enjoy their privacy as this area is large and well-forested.

Canoeing, fishing, bicycling, and hiking are some of the recreational opportunities around the campground.

Gore Mountain Gondola

Another way to enjoy fall in the Adirondacks is on the Gore Mountain Gondola

The 30-minute gondola rides take you and seven other people up to the top of the mountain, where you can enjoy the Adirondacks scenery. 

You can hike at the top of the mountain, take a mountain bike ride, or have a picnic. 

Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater Rafting is often thought of as a summer activity, but you can also do it in the fall and see the colorful trees from the Hudson River. 

In the fall, the river is a mild Class 2 or Class 3, so you can take a relaxing trip down it and admire the foliage. 

The water can get cold in the fall, so you have to bundle up, but it’s well worth it for the views.

Fall colors of the Hudson River valley in New York State

Natural Stone Bridge & Caves

One of the unique Adirondack fall activities is a visit to the Natural Stone Bridge & Caves (535 Stone Bridge Road, Pottersville).

The Stone Bridge is the largest cave entrance in the eastern United States and is covered with colorful trees in the fall. 

After you admire the outside, you can tour the cave or go spelunking. 

Mount Defiance

Mount Defiance (72 Defiance Street, Ticonderoga) is a great place for Adirondack leaf-peeping.  

A hike up the mountain will take you past colorful trees to the top, where you can overlook the Ticonderoga military landscape by Fort Ticonderoga.

You can also drive up to the top and see the trees, and there is a picnic area at the top. 

Lake George

Considered one of the cleanest lakes in the world, Lake George is a wonderful place to visit in the fall.

Aside from seeing the fall foliage, there are tons of things to do around the lake during the season like boating, fishing, rafting, and kayaking.

Picnic areas and accommodation rentals are also available.

Scenic view of the bay in Lake George in fall in Adirondacks, New York

Adirondacks Balloon Festival

The Adirondack Balloon Festival is one of the highlights of fall in the Adirondacks region, held around the last week of September.

Featured in this event are dozens of hot air balloons that come in different colors and decorations.

There is also live music, children’s activities, car shows, and more.

For safety purposes, drones and pets are not allowed.

Hot air balloons in flight

Take a Ride on the Warren County Bikeway

Another way you can admire the fall colors in the Adirondacks is on the Warren County Bikeway. 

The bikeway is 9.4 miles long, and you can also walk or run along the trail and see all its scenic views.

It runs from downtown Glens Falls and runs through to Lake George, and it is on a slow incline until the end when you descend as you approach the lake.

Sand Flats Orchard LLC

Sand Flats Orchard (371 Martin Road, Fonda) is a great place to do all the classic fall activities. 

You can pick your own apples at the orchard, and they also sell apple treats like cider and donuts. 

And there is a corn maze, hayrides, and a shop that sells local goods, pumpkins, fall mums, and other fall goods. 

Ellms Family Farm

Ellms Family Farm (448 Charlton Rd, Ballston Spa) offers a lot of things to do in the Adirondacks in October.

They have many fall activities, like a pumpkin patch, scenic trolley rides, a corn maze, and zip lines. 

Enjoy the farm’s fall treats like cider donuts or get entertained by singalong songs played at their robotic chicken show.

Adirondack Amtrak

Take an Amtrak to see the Adirondack fall foliage.

The line is called the Adirondack, and it is a 10-hour train between Montreal and New York City. 

You can ride along the whole line if you want to see a lot of the New York countryside.

But for the picturesque ride through the mountains, ride the train between Albany or Saratoga Springs and Plattsburgh or Rouses Point, the last stop before you enter Canada.

Lower level sign showing Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station in New York City NYC

Adirondack Fall Foliage Tours by Car

Here are some of the scenic drives in the Adirondacks to enjoy the stunning foliage in the fall.

You may also like our guide to Upstate New York in the fall.

Blue Ridge Road

The first beautiful drive through the Adirondacks is Blue Ridge Road, stretching 17 miles long between North Hudson and Newcomb. 

Although it is a quick drive, it is worth the trip to see the Adirondack fall foliage on the southern edge of the High Peaks Region. 

If you want to spend more time along Blue Ridge Road, stop for a hike in the Dix Mountain Wilderness or the Hoffman Notch Wilderness. 

NY Route 9N

Another lovely drive through the Adirondack mountains in fall is down New York Route 9N

The road goes north and south along Lake George in the eastern part of the Adirondacks. 

There are a lot of great stops along the way where you can see the fall trees surrounding the lake. 

Be sure to stop at Rogers Rock near the northern part of the lake with great views. 

Fall trees reflected in a car wing mirror Montpelier Vermont

Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway

The Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway takes you along a 5.5-mile road to the top of Prospect Mountain. 

From the top of the 2,030-foot peak, you can see up to 100 miles on a clear day, 

Some of the sights include the Green Mountains in Vermont, Lake George, the Adirondacks High Peaks, and even sometimes the Laurentian Mountains in Canada. 

Along the drive, there are places you can stop to see overlooks of the mountains and also a self-guided nature trail. 

NY State Route 10

New York State Route 10 is another great drive to do through the Adirondacks in autumn.

The entire route is 155 miles long, but to see the mountains in the fall, the best part of the drive is between Caroga Lake and Piseco Lake. 

This 30-mile stretch has a lot of great places to stop along the way, and you will be near many scenic hiking trails. 

Adirondack Fall Foliage Map

Generally, the best time to visit the Adirondacks for fall foliage is from the end of September to late October. 

The Lake Placid region tends to peak first, then Lake Champlain towards the end of the season. 

But, the foliage can always change and differ from the predictions. If you want to plan your visit around peak foliage, use this map to see where the leaves are most colorful in the Adirondack region.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy the activities to do and spots to visit during fall in the Adirondacks region, let us know in the comments below!

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