The charming Keeseville village in the Adirondacks.

9 Underrated Destinations In The Adirondack Mountains To Avoid Summer Crowds

Expansive and pristine, the Adirondacks Region spans 6 million acres in all its mountainous glory. It is a really joyous adventure for hikers, climbers, and scenery seekers, with countless gems throughout. The Adirondack Park, the largest park in the lower 48 states, is larger than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, the Grand Canyon, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Parks combined. In this untapped hiker's paradise in New York, you will come across waterfalls, lakes, rushing rivers, chasms, and gorges along the foothills to the peaks that wink at conquerors. Find what you seek and more with adventures, recreation, and relaxation with unparalleled views of dazzling lakes, wild mountains, and picturesque towns.

Copperas And Owens Ponds

Copperas Pond in Lake Placid NY
Copperas Pond in the Adirondacks.

Three ponds, hidden from the oblivious within the Sentinel Range Wilderness Area in North Elba, Essex County, offer great hikes and water fun, complete with mountain scenery. Enjoy the excellent loop opportunities and lakeshore recreation along the picturesque shorelines and 3,616-foot Stewart Mountain and 3,892-foot Kilburn Mountain views in the summer and fall without crowds. Access the blissful area for solitude via two well-traveled trails, including a 3.5-mile loop along the serenely wild ponds, for only you, nature, and your favorite peeps.

The active will enjoy a moderate course on the newly rerouted initial 0.2 miles from the southern trailhead for Owen Pond to the original trail. Follow the route along the wet and slippery area by a brook, with a climb, a drop, and a return to the pond. Trek onward along the most moderate section to see Copperas Pond, where you can plop down and relax with the sweetest views of Whiteface Mountain on the other side. Passing through a camping area and over a long boardwalk to an intersection, you can take the right trail to Winch Pond and steeply descend to Route 86 or turn left to go along Copperas Pond with a dead end for hiking.

Indian Lake

Loon watching the sunrise over Indian Lake Adirondacks New York
Loon watching the sunrise over Indian Lake in the Adirondacks, New York.

This tiny town in the heart of Adirondack Park is a viciously underrated destination in the region, with some of the best activities for summertime tourists. With something to encourage every group's interest and taste, Indian Lake graciously offers its eponymous lake and stunning natural landscapes for outdoor ventures. You can learn about the fascinating history behind the town and the sparkling lake, the two jewels in the crown of the Adirondacks, over summertime fun, bonding, and relaxation without disturbing hoards of tourists.

Immerse yourself in real serenity on the last hoorah of the summer before the city takes you captive, and return to your favorite laketown next year for more adventures and new hotspots. The picturesque destination, with a 12-mile lake and shoreline, is unparalleled in tranquility while fishing, boating, and swimming. But wait, there's more! The nearby Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area and Cedar River Flow offer a gateway into the breathtaking wilderness for recreation with peaky views. Come celebrate the town's regular events alongside the friendly locals, like the biggest annual Great Adirondack Moose Festival or Indian Lake Winterfest.


The Ausable River flowing past Jay, New York.
The Ausable River flowing past Jay, New York.

Despite its concise name and tiny area, the charming town of Jay sits ensconced in the immense scenery of the Adirondack Mountains near the sparkling waters of the rushing Ausable River. This naturally embraced town is a perfect destination to reconnect with Mother Nature and a fun road trip stop that will hold you glued to the views and give you bouts of nostalgia upon departing. Jay is unlike any other in its concentration of family-friendly pursuits, accommodating services, and friendly locals to make you feel welcome while enjoying sights and your favorite pastimes with your favorite peeps sans crowds.

Cross the river over the landmark Covered Bridge, a beautiful, pedestrian-only, and longest, northernmost covered bridge in the state. Enjoy the perfect backdrop for a picnic and photoshoot near this 160-foot-long icon. Just a quick hike downstream brings you to the second icon and top natural landmark, the marvelous Jay Falls, amid more scenery. Need we say more? The tiny town will fulfill all your summertime dreams, inspire you, and have you yearning for a do-over in the refreshing nature and clean air. Come back next summer to fish in the Ausable River and chase streams through the surrounding beautiful hardwood forests on a hike.


The charming Keeseville village in the Adirondacks.
The charming Keeseville village in the Adirondacks.

Minutes from Ausable Chasm, Keeseville, a hidden gem in the Adirondacks, feels made for a tranquil summer vacation or a getaway in a peaceful atmosphere for friends or family. Take a scenically charged dive this summer and come back next year for a real feel while getting to know each nook and cranny of the picturesque town and landscape around you. The little hamlet near the prized possession is ideal for nature hikes and relaxation with views, as well as rafting, tubing, and rock climbing.

Enjoy the outdoors to the fullest, and fear not: the small town has everything in store for your best evenings and to relax over family-friendly entertainment amidst an enviable drinking scene. From food trucks and live music outside during the summer to the small and one of the country's best Ausable Brewing Company, you will feel rested and recharged by the end of the season to face the game of life and work. Whether it is the fresh mountain air, the cold brews, or the beautiful landscape at Mossbrook Roots Flower Farm, the scenic town with an epic name will have you feeling like a brand-new person.

Long Lake

Aerial view of Long Lake, New York.
Aerial view of Long Lake, New York.

Another town, Long Lake, is a refreshing summer escape destination with no crowds and attractions for all tastes. Enjoy days under the sun with your closest on the long, cooling lake for water pursuits and shoreside recreation along its 14-mile stretch. From world-class fishing, dining cruises, and seaplane tours to the beaches for sunbathing, post-hike dips, and swimming in the scenery, the small town really feels larger than life. Just take in the panoramic views of mountains and lakes wounding around the earth's curvature on the thrilling half-hour tour over the Adirondack High Peaks with Helms Aero Service to get perspective.

Tackle the scenic trail to the beautiful Buttermilk Falls along the Raquette River to picnic in the misty air, where the only tranquil buzz of nature will soothe your soul. Enjoy fishing in the lake on largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and northern pike, and more hikes for all levels with real eye-candy sights and lookout points that will have you trekking. Cook your catch over an open fire as the waters engulf the setting sun, and choose a rustic lakeside cabin to step out into the glorious nature each morning. Check out the landmark Adirondack Hotel from the 1850s, just across the beach and in the heart of everything. The town is full of local shops and cafes, including favorites like Hoss's, the Adirondack Trading Post, and the Adirondack Museum.

Old Forge

The Water Safari Park in the Adirondacks. Editorial credit: Mahmoud Suhail /

Come to this town near the Enchanted Forest Water Safari at your discretion this summer, as the amount of family fun at the water park will overwhelm you or, at best, have you yearning for more. Are you already here? Have a go at the fun rides and enchanting attractions, losing yourself in the Old Forge's special ambiance and the Adirondacks feel, where nature and culture do voodoo magic to make you stay longer than intended. Get your dose this summer in the southwestern Adirondacks, spoiled with exquisite sights parallel to your favorite activities.

From swimming, boating, and fishing in the beautiful Old Forge Lake to discovery hikes like the Bald Mountain Trail and Moss Lake Trail, the town awaits with strolls along the cutest houses and crafts laid out along the streets. Visit Old Forge, and you will be wishing for an endless summer in the shadow of the breathtaking mountains. There's always a reason to come back for regular events like the Annual Arts Festival and Adirondack Woodsmen's Field Days, as well as the local vibe that induces nostalgia for a do-over.

Rocky Peak

Aerial scenic view of fire observation tower at Bald Mountain Adirondacks
Aerial scenic view of fire observation tower at Bald Mountain, Adirondacks.

The destination hike of the Bald Mountain Rocky Peak is a memorable trail through the scenic wilderness for moderately active trekkers, with likely not another soul in sight. Take the East Trail in the Giant Mountain Wilderness, which climbs and weaves around an open rocky ridge under the watchful eye of the mountains, with forests and waters in the north, east, and southeast. From the Route 9N trailhead, you will ascend 6.7 miles and 3,600 feet to the 4,420-foot Rocky Peak Ridge summit, which will take the last of your breath away with its 360-degree vistas of the Sentinel Range, Hurricane Mountain, and Lake Champlain.

Linger for a picnic to recharge over views of the surrounding valley, the Green Linger Mountains of Vermont, the Dix Mountains, the Great Range, the High Peaks in the east, and Giant Mountain. Enjoy photoshoots or a selfie at the several renowned lookouts of the surrounding scenery along the way, like the Blueberry Cobbles at 1.9 miles, Bald Mountain at 3.9 miles, and the remotely picturesque Marie Louis Pond at 6.1 miles.


panoramic of Speculator, New York located in the Adirondacks.
Panoramic view of Speculator, New York located in the Adirondacks. 

Speculator doesn't get enough accolades, resting picturesquely in the northern hills under the peaky 2,966-foot Speculator Mountain. This real alpine charmer epitomizes "the small Adirondack town's" charm in one concentrated scene of attractions and scenically charged surroundings where the only thing lacking are the crowds. Choose to camp in the heart of the Adirondacks at the local Moffitt Beach this summer for the best water access, and come back for the Oak Mountain Ski Center, open year-round, like the Mini Route 66, a really cool "only here attraction."

Come this summer for some of the region's best hiking trails up and around this mountain. From climbers to family-friendly hikes, the town welcomes all post-hike with attractions in the evening and days in between nature ventures. The lovely downtown alone lures visitors with strolls, cafes, and friendly b&bs around each corner to wake up feeling rested for another day of recreation and mountainous adventures. Enjoy biking along the rolling hills and hiking along the gorgeous forest trails while the quiet town's period buildings and a slower-paced local lifestyle will tranquilize you under the tantalizing view of the Speculator.

Whiteface Mountain

Whiteface Mountain, Adirondacks, New York
Whiteface Mountain, Adirondacks, New York.

Whiteface Mountain is a destination for avid hikers, adventurers, and climbers into the clouds to its 4,867-foot summit, leaving the crowds behind. From this height, you won't even see all the earth-crawling creatures but only the breathtaking 360-degree views. Take the Whiteface Landing Trail in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness from the trailhead on State Route 86. The first 2.5 miles from the trailhead lead to the beautiful Whiteface Landing on the shores of Lake Placid, which is only 310 feet high.

Enjoy the scenery in preparation for the whole climb to the summit of a 6.0-mile, 3,320-foot ascent for the most rewarding view of the region. The climb is worth the panorama of a large portion of the northeastern Adirondacks and the surrounding landscape. Soak in the views of Lake Champlain, Lake Placid, Vermont's Green Mountains, and the High Peaks region as if in the palm of your hand. Seeking a shortcut? Pay a fee to drive the Whiteface Mountain Veteran's Memorial Highway to a parking area and reach the summit for the same views on a 0.15-mile trail over a 200-foot ascent. 

The Adirondack Region on the East Coast is one of the most diverse destinations in the country, made for outdoorsy types. Its millions of acres of public land for eco-tourism and recreation are New York's largest playground, whether you are seeking a small-town atmosphere or boundless nature. From camping under the stars to discovering small mountain town life, you will have the serene Adirondack ambiance through all your summertime experiences to share and cherish with your gang.


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