Take a Hike! 7 Winter Hiking Trails to Try in the Lake George Region
Editor's Note: As of April 9, 2020 Pilot Knob at the Schumann Preserve is closed until further notice. Please follow the DEC and CDC guidelines to adhere to social distancing while hiking and recreating outdoors during this public health crisis. Hikers are asked to stick to trails close to home and only hike with immediate household family members. Read more from the DEC »
If you don't mind the cold, then one of the best ways to spend a winter afternoon in the Lake George Region is on a hike! There are peaks on both sides of Lake George that offer amazing views of the snowy landscape, and trails range in difficulty from beginner to challenging.
Getting Started - Read Before You Head Out!
Before you go hiking this season, it's crucial that you know how to prepare for the outdoor conditions. Here in Lake George and the Adirondacks, winter introduces a whole new set of challenges for hikers, including snow, ice, and cold temperatures.
To start, check the local weather forecast and trail conditions. This will help you know if any storms, frigid winds, or thick fog are expected, all of which would be hazardous during a winter hike. If you stay up to date on the current trail conditions, you'll know if snowshoes are necessary.
Winter Hiking Trails - From Easy to Challenging
This short and family-friendly hike is located on the southeastern shore of Lake George in the Town of Fort Ann. The trail brings hikers through the beautiful 223-acre Schumann Preserve at Pilot Knob, which is protected by the Lake George Land Conservancy.
To begin the Pilot Knob Preserve hike, drive to Pilot Knob Road and then park at the designated area by the trailhead. From there, follow the trail east for about a mile until you reach the gazebo that overlooks the lake. Once you've checked out the breathtaking view of the winter landscape, you can head back to the trailhead. The hike is 1.8 miles round trip if you follow the loop.
Don't be intimidated by the name, the Shelving Rock Mountain Summit hike is actually one of the easier trails on the east side of Lake George. The 1.7-mile long hike features a fairly wide path that isn't too steep. The average time to reach the summit is roughly an hour in the summer, so be sure to plan ahead for your winter hike.
To reach the trailhead for the Shelving Rock Mountain Summit hike, you'll have to drive down a few long roads in Fort Ann. Make your way to Sly Pond Road, continue on to Shelving Rock Road, and when you reach the Hog Town Parking Lot, turn left and follow the road for another 2.7 miles. You'll eventually pass the Shelving Rock Falls trailhead and arrive at the Shelving Rock Mountain Summit trailhead and designated parking area.
Take a trip north of Lake George Village to Bolton Landing for a fun hike up Cat Mountain. The 3-mile long trail has some moderate terrain, but for the most part, isn't too difficult for hikers of all skill levels.
The trailhead is located at a gravel parking lot on Valley Woods Road in Bolton Landing. Although the site is poorly marked, you should be able to spot a "Protected Natural Area" sign close to the trail register.
For a more challenging winter hike, Buck Mountain on the east side of Lake George is an excellent choice. The climb to the summit is about 3 miles one way, and because there are rocky and steep sections, it's not recommended for kids.
In winter, snow can make the tough terrain even more difficult, so you may want to take this hike at a slow and steady pace. You can begin your hike from the south on Pilot Knob Road or from the north on Shelving Rock Road. When you finally reach the summit, you'll have a great view of the southern basin of Lake George.
Although Prospect Mountain is a moderate hike, it is conveniently located near Lake George Village. In fact, if you're staying in the village for a winter getaway, you can easily head up the side roads to Smith Street where the trail begins. If you take the steps up and cross the elevated walkway, you'll arrive at the Prospect Mountain trailhead.
From there, the hike up Prospect is about 1.5 miles one way and features varied terrain. Since some sections are steep, this hike isn't the best for beginners during the winter season. If you're prepared to get a workout as you hike to the summit, you'll be rewarded with a panoramic view of Lake George.
In terms of length, Sleeping Beauty Mountain may be considered a tough hike by some, especially in winter. However, the trail is only moderately steep in a few areas, so it shouldn't be very difficult for hikers who have some experience. The most important thing hikers should be aware of for Sleeping Beauty Mountain is the access point.
Similar to Shelving Rock, you'll want to drive down Sly Pond Road and Shelving Rock Road in Fort Ann. When you reach the Hog Town Parking Lot, you'll have to park there and then begin your hike. During winter, the 1.5-mile long road from the Hog Town Parking Lot to the Dacy Clearing Parking Lot (and Sleeping Beauty Mountain trailhead) is closed, so you'll need to add that distance to your hike. After you sign in at the Sleeping Beauty Mountain trail register, your hike will be about 1.8 miles to the summit.
Black Mountain is located on the east side of Lake George and features some challenging sections along the 2.5-mile long hiking trail. The summit provides a wonderful view of the northern portion of Lake George around the island-dotted Narrows.
While you're up there, you can take a photo of the fire tower and explore some of the side trails to three small ponds. The trailhead is located on Pike Brook Road in the Hamlet of Clemons.