Most of New York is what you might call “flatlands.” The average elevation above sea level is around 1,000 feet. But when you trek upstate and get into the Adirondacks, suddenly you find landscapes soaring to 4,000 feet.

For people who live out West, the heights of the Adirondacks are chicken feed. No matter! For flatlanders – or even a Westerner – this area offers some fabulous hiking experiences.

Mount Colden

This trail is labeled “difficult.” That’s part of the reason it’s so fabulous. Just a short way into this 12.6-mile trek, hikers will find themselves looking up at a blissful view of Wright and Colden Peaks. Then just a short walk further, the narrow cut that traverses between Colden and MacIntyre Range gobbles up the trail while immersing the hiker in natural beauty.

The highlight of this trail is Avalanche Pass, with its fine canyons and gorges.

Gothics Mountain

Rated a moderate hike, Gothics Mountain sports 11.6 miles of trail snaking between lovely peaks, trail drops, and switchbacks that take one through a full range of Mother Nature’s wonderment. Although rated as moderate, be aware that some call walking the Gothics Mountain trail “a grueling experience.” However, it’s well worth it for the hearty hiker because of the panoramic views, rock-strewn gorges, and other formations that are a joy to behold.

Mount Marcy

This is almost 15 miles of moderately strenuous hiking up Mount Marcy. The Native Americans called it “Tahawus.” That translates to “cloud splitter.” You’ll see why it is named because of the radical way it seems to ascend from the flatland to the heavens. However, the trail here is well designed to make it feel like a gradual climb to a steep summit. The view from the top of “Cloud Splitter” is magnificent. Marcy is the tallest peak of the Adirondacks.

Mount Skylight

This is a 17.2-mile trail rated as difficult and is about as deep as a hiker can get into the high peaks of the Adirondacks. An intersection called the Four Corners is located between Marcy and Skylight peaks. It’s also next to Lake Tear of the Clouds. This is the highest-elevation lake in New York.

The summit of Skylight offers a flat, tree-free area that will afford the hiker an excellent look at the massive summit cone of Marcy in the distance. In the opposite direction is a view of the more tame and serene southern Adirondacks.