LAKE PLACID - One of the best easy hikes in the Adirondacks is also one that most people pass regularly while driving between Lake Placid and Keene.
Owls Head is located northeast of the Cascade Lakes and is on the righthand side off state Route 73 when driving toward Keene.
The highly visible 2,120-foot mountain is a great place for people looking to get great views without exerting a tremendous amount of energy.
A view of Owls Head from state Route 73 near the Cascade Lakes outside of Lake Placid.
This hike is only 1.2 miles roundtrip and gains 460 feet from the parking lot, according to the Adirondack Mountain Club's High Peaks Region hiking guidebook.
"This little rocky peak has long been a popular climb and has probably been the first climb for many, many junior hikers," states the ADK guidebook. "The start is now on a town road, but hikers must be aware that the surrounding land is private and subject to development, which could change the parking situation in the future."
Chuck Bruha, assistant manager at the Mountaineer gear store in Keene Valley, also believes this is a great hike for families and people just starting out.
"I like to suggest Owls Head for young children, especially during blueberry season because you can stop along the way or on the way down and you can eat blueberries all the way up or all the way down," Bruha said. "I remember when my kids were little that you could literally walk the trail and put your hand out and end up with a handful."
Of course, blueberry season isn't until mid-summer, but it's something to keep in mind.
Owls Head is pretty much a great short hike any time of the year. In the fall, it's a great place to get views of the foliage on the High Peaks. In the winter, it's a great place to get used to winter mountaineering without going too far from your vehicle.
This time of year, it's a great place to get the rust off those summer hiking muscles.
You can get to the peak in just half an hour, even going at a leisurely pace. Once up top, there is plenty of open rock, where you have picnic and take in the views of the surrounding scenery.
There are views in just about every direction if you take the time to explore the different vantage points.
One unique thing about Owls Head is that the majority of the trail goes through private property. The only public land is toward the top of the mountain, which is part of the High Peaks Wilderness.
Because the trail goes through private property, hikers are asked to stay on the trail, for the most part. Parking is available along the road.
The trailhead is located about 11.5 miles from downtown Lake Placid. The trailhead is located off Owls Head Road, which is about two miles past the Cascade Lakes on the righthand side when heading toward Keene.
Other short hike options
Owls Head is just one of the great short hiking options in the Lake Placid region.
Another option if you're looking to do a short trip is the 2,428-foot high Baxter Mountain off of state Route 9N between Keene Elizabethtown.
"A great hike that we like to recommend for families to get their feet wet is to do Baxter Mountain," Bruha said. "It's only 1.1 miles one way and for the effort, you end up with one of the best views in the Park."
Bruha thinks Baxter and Owls Head are especially good for beginners because of the great views from each.
"It's important for people just starting out to have get a great success, so you start to get a feel for what it's all about to hike," Bruha said.
Brian Delaney, owner of High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid, says there are plenty of short hikes in the Lake Placid region. One of those he enjoys is Mount Van Hoevenberg off of South Meadow Road south of Lake Placid. Bruha also put this on his list of recommended short hikes.
"There are beautiful views from the top to the west and south," Delaney said. "It's just gorgeous up there, especially a late day hike."
The 2,860-foot peak is a 4.4 mile roundtrip hike.