Adirondack Hiking Challenges

While any excursion into the woods can be fun, and you don't need to have a specific goal to enjoy a day outdoors, working through a hiking challenge can be a great way to inspire a family to get outside or fulfill that "completionist" desire deep down. There are options available at multiple levels throughout the Adirondack region. Here are a few we're aware of; feel free to contact us if there are others you think should be listed!


Likely the most familiar challenge to those who've spent any time in or around the High Peaks, the 46ers challenge rewards people who have climbed all 46 High Peaks in the Adirondack region, with an elevation of 4,000 feet or more. While most of these mountains have official trails, a couple require "bushwhacking" through unmarked but well-worn and well-documented paths.

The mountains on the 46er list were based on measurements from the earlier part of the 20th century. Since then, four of those peaks were identified as being technically less than 4,000 feet, but for continuity the 46er club continues to work from the original list.

Additionally, some individuals have climbed all these peaks in the wintertime to be categorized as a Winter 46er. Of course, make sure you are well familiar with navigating extreme backwoods conditions before attempting the same.

Lake George 12ster

A great challenge for those who want a shorter list of peaks to knock off a list, the Lake George 12ster includes 12 mountains surrounding Lake George. While some on the list such as Sleeping Beauty and Thomas Mountain are easier hikes, be prepared for rougher climbs on others such as the Tongue Range despite the elevation not being on the scale of the High Peaks.

For extra adventurous individuals, you can complete the "Ultra" option to climb all 12 peaks in 24 hours, covering over 40 miles and ascending 9000 feet.

Saranac 6er

A great option for families due to the smaller list, this challenge consists of climbing 6 peaks in the greater Saranac Lake region. To complete the list, you need to ascend Baker, St. Regis, Scarface, Ampersand, Haystack, and McKenzie Mountains.

At Berkeley Green Park in the town of Saranac Lake, you'll find a "6er bell" honoring the program. This also serves as the starting point for the Baker Mountain hike in order to count it toward completion. You can receive a patch and certificate at the end, and then you'll be allowed to ring the bell!

Fire Tower Challenge

This challenge entails climbing peaks with fire towers, overlapping into the Catskills alongside the Adirondacks. To complete the list, you'll go to the top of 18 out of 27 mountains with towers in the Adirondack region, along with 5 in the Catskill region.

Upon completion, you can submit your proof of ascent to the Adirondack Mountain Club and receive a patch!

Northville-Placid Trail Challenge

While this trail does not cover any major mountain ascents, it ventures into some beautiful and remote sections of the Adirondacks. The Northville-Placid Trail, as you may guess from its name, ventures from the town of Northville in the Southern Adirondacks to Lake Placid in the High Peaks region. In total, the trail runs for 135 miles.

The challenge entails hiking the entire trail, with a number of lean-tos and campaign sites along the way for overnight stays, along with occasional towns. If not choosing to complete it all at once, you can do the hike in sections.

Get Hiking!

Whether you're looking to complete a hiking challenge, or just looking for an individual hike from the list of options within these challenges, hopefully this post inspired you to consider all the great options for outdoor activity in upstate New York! Reach out if you'd like to add to the list as well.

Check out one of my favorite Adirondack trail guides.

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