The Perfect Adirondack Day Hike……. Indian Head.

The Adirondacks offer up one of the greatest explosions of color during the Autumn season. This short-lived spectacle is always the starting bell for my hiking season to begin. This year, same as last, I opted for a casual hike to reintroduce myself to the mountains and begin preparing for some much more strenuous hikes through the winter. This weekend I visited the incredible sights of Indian Head.

Panorama from the top of Indian Head.
Panorama from the top of Indian Head.

I’ve seen photos shared in the past of this expansive view standing high on the cliffs above the Lower Ausable Lake. Indian Head is perched between the peaks of the Great Range and the Pinnacle Range and fully within the boundaries of the Adirondack Mountain reserve. This sight and the prospect of standing there while the trees were ablaze with color was something I wasn’t going to miss. My hiking partner and I started out early to beat the rush. The parking lot was sure to fill up fast this weekend. The high for the day was set to be a record-breaking 83 degrees with clear sky. The unseasonable warm temperature and the foliage at 85% peak was sure to bring out a lot of other hikers looking to see the Adirondack foliage from the many great vantage points of the high peaks.


In the wee hours of the morning while the sun began to bake the dew off of the fields surrounding the Ausable Club, we made our way to the main gate for the Lake Road. The Lake Road and the Ausable Club are privately owned land, but there is an easement to allow hikers to use the property so long as they follow a simple set of rules. There are a few options for the ascent to Indian Head off of the lake Road. The farthest is at about three miles and the closest at the Gil Brook Trail which also leads to the summits Colvin and Blake Peak (#39 and #43 of the Adirondack 46). We chose to take the Gil Brook Trail and enjoy the brook along the way. While ascending, the sun had crept high enough in the sky to crest over the high peaks around us and fill the valley with an incredible glow as the light filtered through the brightly colored leaves. The bright colors of the trees and early morning sun danced on the swiftly moving Gil Brook. I paused for a moment to breathe in the sweet smell of autumn leaves and the rich pine.

Gil Brook trail
Gil Brook trail

The trail to Indian Head seemed much shorter that I know it was. The hike was not steep or challenging, and the picturesque nature of the entire journey made the 2 1/2 hour journey feel more like minutes. We broke through the trees and there before us was an incredible unobstructed view above the Lower Ausable Lake. The high peaks rise sharply around the Lake framing out a view like none other in the Adirondacks. We stayed for some time here taking photos and gazing at the brightly colored foliage surrounding us. I could have stayed for hours in this place without growing bored. We left the views to nature began our descent back down to the Lake Road.

Indian Head
Indian Head

This short day hike to Indian Head is definitely one that I will repeat many times over.

View of Gothics Mountain through the “Gothics Window”


6 thoughts on “The Perfect Adirondack Day Hike……. Indian Head.

  1. Have just discovered your blog.which I thoroughly enjoy.Can you trell me whereI can purchase a “Paddlers Map”?
    Thank You

    1. Hey Mark. I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog. The Paddlers Maps are available at all locally owned paddlesports suppliers. I got mine in Plattsburgh at the Kayak Shack.

  2. Hi I just true to attempt to hike Indian head alone on Christmas and found all trail options confusing and hard to find. Everything is unmarked and hard to see which made me extremely uneasy and unable to find Indian head. Which made matters worse I made a 4 hr drive just to see it and drove back :/ how did u manage? I was afraid of getting lost

    1. Oh no! The trail is marked very well past the gate on the Lake Rd. Before reaching the gate there is no marked trail, just the road. If you return, hike the road to the Ausable Club but turn left at the tennis courts, and sign in at the gate. Walk the Lake Rd to the Gill Brook trail (marked with a sign indicating Indian Head). This is a red marked trail. From here there are many signs pointing you to Indian Head. I hope you make it back. It’s a wonderful hike!

    1. Thank you! It was 2 1/2 hours one way. You’ll definitely want to stay up there for a long time. It’s high on my list of favorite views in the Adirondacks.

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