With thousands of mountains and hills over six million acres, it’s fairly obvious that the Adirondacks is a hiker’s paradise. But where to hike? With so much wilderness, how do you choose where to go and what challenges to take on?
Hamilton County is by far the least populated county in the entire state. It’s jam-packed with wilderness, including some great hikes. For something a little more off the beaten path, a little quieter and serene, we’ve put together a list of some of awesome hidden gem hikes. (You didn’t really think we’d make you do the digging, did you?) So read on, then pack your map, boots, and start planning!
Cascade and Stephens Ponds
Cascade and Stephens ponds are two beautiful gems in the Blue Ridge Wilderness. In any season, you'll find peaceful forests and pristine waters. If you're lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of an otter; they've been known to frequent these parts. As part of this trail doubles as a section of the Northville - Placid Trail, it's possible for this to turn into a longer trip, but the ponds themselves are excellent destinations.
The ponds can be accessed through the Lake Durant DEC Campground, but that may involve a day-use fee, unless you are staying at the campground. In winter, the campground is not plowed, so alternative parking can be found on NY Routes 28/30. There are relatively large parking areas on both sides of NY Routes 28/30, with a marked trail leading into the campground. This parking area is about 3-miles east of the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake and just west of the Lake Durant DEC Campground.
For the adventurous, there is an alternative trailhead located off Durant Road (County Road 19). This is a short dirt road with free, primitive campsites near the shore of Lake Durant. Starting from here, hikers cross over the floating bridge over Rock Pond. It is just under a 3-mile hike to Cascade Pond from here.