The Ausable River watershed is one of the most beautiful locations in the country for viewing fall foliage, especially if your goal is to get off the road and into the woods. These three hikes offer outstanding views of the Adirondack High Peaks and, timed right, will immerse you in fall forest colors. Besides their stunning beauty, forests are essential to the Ausable River and its watershed. They filter, protect, and cool the streams that run through them and support a diversity of wildlife. While you are hiking any of these routes it becomes easy to understand the importance of conserving wild lands, freshwater systems, and the many services they provide us.
1. Mount Jo
Mount Jo is located on the Adirondack Mountain Club's property outside of Lake Placid. This is the shortest and easiest hike of this group. The hike is 2.0 miles round-trip and climbs 700 feet. The trail is short, but steep and climbs over a limited amount of rocky terrain. The view from the summit is well worth the effort. You will be looking south over Heart Lake and have a front-row seat of the High Peaks.
Catamount is located in north of Whiteface Mountain in the Town of Black Brook. The round-trip distance for Catamount is 3.6 miles with 1,542 feet of elevation gain. The first few tenths of a mile are flat walking on a snowmobile trail, but then the trail starts a steep climb to the summit. The upper portion of the mountain involves quite a bit of scrambling up rocky areas and over a few small ledges. The summit has nearly 360-degree views with Whiteface dominating the skyline to the south.
A hike over The Brothers to Big Slide is one of the best ways to experience fall foliage in the High Peaks. If you do this hike as a loop (up The Brothers, down the Slide Brook Trail, and out the Phelps Trail) it is 9.5 miles round-trip with 2,800 feet of elevation gain. As you ascend The Brothers there are expansive views of both the Johns Brook Valley and Keene Valley. You will also have wonderful views of the Great Range and, at the peak of the fall season, you'll be surrounded by an unrivalled array of color. The upper portions of the range are dominated by a spruce-fir forest, that contrast with the bright reds, oranges, and yellows of the valley below.