What I did this weekend on the Adirondack Coast: the perfect little fall hike.

The Autumn leaves are fading away. Looking out at the rapidly changing colors of the season remind me of a short hike I took just eleven days ago. Throughout the summer I had spent the majority of my days sitting in a kayak or strolling along level trails. Hiking season is right around the corner, so for this final weekend in September, my hiking partner and I decided to stretch our legs on a very short rewarding hike in the Adirondacks, Mt. Jo.


The Autumn trees were at peak color through the week. The mountains were alive with the red, orange, yellow, purple, green and brown hues that the Adirondacks are famous for. The sky was completely cloud free,and the temperature was perched in the 70s. The perfect conditions for any hike in the high peaks. We started our journey up this storied mountain at the Adirondack Loj.  The parking lot at the Adirondack Loj is the access point for a great number of the Adirondack 46 high peaks including the highest and most popular peaks of Marcy and Algonquin.

Mount Jo is known for the shortness of the hike, general ease of the trail, spectacular views of the McIntire Range, and the story of love and loss that gave both Mount Jo and neighboring Heart Lake their name. Mt. Jo served as today’s perfect warm up to hiking season. There are two trails to the summit that branch off from the one main trail that begins next to the entry booth for the Adirondack Loj parking area. The trail starts off as a perfectly groomed path to the shore of Heart Lake. We paused here for a moment to take in the view across the water to soak in the ever-changing views of the Adirondack landscape.

The Autumn color surrounding Heart Lake
The Autumn color surrounding Heart Lake

We started up the trail with the intention to ascend the new, steeper trail, and descend by the longer old trail to complete a loop. Although steep, the new trail is short. From the trailhead registry we steadily gained in altitude up the open boulder trail surrounded by the incredible hues and the sweet smell of autumn. The short, steep ascent opened up quickly to an exposed rock outcrop at the summit looking out over Heart Lake and across to an expansive view of the MacIntyre Range.

Trail up Jo.The summit was busy this weekend with fellow hikers getting out to view the changing seasons. The sunshine, blazing Autumn colors, and perfect temperatures were too good to pass up. My hiking partners and I relaxed, enjoyed a snack, and looked out at the peaks from past hikes we had taken and reminisced. While reminiscing about previous adventures, we discussed future hikes and possibilities. We pointed out the next peaks we’d like to visit and loosely plotted days to go. Refreshed and relaxed, we began our descent back down through the beautifully colored forest.


The descent along the old long trail was easy-going. This trail could easily serve as a more gentle ascending trail to those who may be interested in a more leisurely stroll. Our descent was quick, so quick we had time to stop by a boulder along the trail to send a note to mom. After “arts and crafts in the woods”, we finished our day with another quick stop by the shores of heart lake to look up at Wright and Algonquin Peak one last time.

Hi Mom!
Hi Mom!

Another spectacular Adirondack day on a perfect little hike with great people. This was my first hike on Mount Jo, But I will certainly add this short trip to the list among my favorite little hikes. Whenever time is short, Mount Jo can be a new go-to.

3 thoughts on “What I did this weekend on the Adirondack Coast: the perfect little fall hike.

  1. We’ve got this one on our list to do this year. One question on the new, shorter, but steeper trail: We have a 12 year old black lab that hikes with us. Despite his age, he’s still a great hiking companion, though he’s not quite as agile as he used to be. He doesn’t have the strength in his back legs to jump up more than a couple of feet (he’s starting to struggle with jumping up on the bed or into the back of the car, for instance). We’ve read that there are a couple of scrambles on the short trail up Jo. Is there anything you think might prove too difficult for an older dog? We’re happy to go up and back the long trail if necessary, but would prefer to do the loop if possible. Cheers in advance!

    1. The one spot that I can recall specifically being too much work for an older lab is at the summit. No matter which trail you take, you will find yourself facing this spot. The lift height, if you needed to, is over 6′. I think your pup will be able to take on the short trail with fair ease up to this point (the very last inch of the trail before the summit). Enjoy your hike! I hope it works out great!

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