Make Town Your Trailhead: A New Community-Based Hiking Approach in Lake Placid

There is no longer any hiker trailhead parking for Cobble Hill trails, so Lake Placid area hikers are encouraged to base Cobble hikes from your home or hotel, or to find designated parking on Mirror Lake Drive or in a municipal lot and begin your walk from there.

Northwood School had provided a small trailhead parking lot for years, but the private school has closed campus roads for security reasons. Northwood is working with an ad hoc community group to identify and build a new off-campus trailhead for Cobble Hill trails, a project seeded by the North Elba LEAF Fund. 

In the meantime, temporary foot access over private land will be provided for 2021 from a trailhead near Northwood School’s Mirror Lake Drive gate, and from a trailhead on Whitney Road, just steps from Mirror Lake Drive. There is no parking at either trailhead, so hikers should factor approximately a half-mile walk from the downtown Lake Placid area.

“This presents an opportunity to truly anchor the experience of an Adirondack mountain hike in an Adirondack mountain town,” said Scott Van Laer, director of the Paul Smith’s College VIC, which provides trail-consulting services on private recreation lands. Van Laer is coordinating the community effort to secure and improve Cobble Hill trails.  

“Lake Placid is well situated to serve as base camp. Hikers can stop at a local business for a snack or a drink on the walk to or from the trailhead and make it part of the experience," Van Laer said. "Even at other Adirondack trailheads where parking spaces are provided, it is often difficult to get a spot. Cobble Hill offers a way to create a new, sustainable model that ties outdoor recreation directly to community benefit.” 

Cobble Hill's primary hiking trails have always crossed private lands before reaching state land near the summit; some of the private land is protected from subdivision and development under agreements with the Adirondack Land Trust.

 “We are grateful to Northwood School and other landowners for letting people cross their lands to climb a beloved local mountain,” said Mary Thill, communications manager for the Adirondack Land Trust. “This access is not guaranteed, so we are pleased to be part of a community effort to create trails that have less impact on natural resources, road safety, and landowners.”