It’s no secret: The Adirondack Park is a great place to get outside. Around the High Peaks, parking areas have filled up faster each year, crowds grown, and before you know it your expectation of peace in the woods is much different than reality. But there’s always another trail, many of which see far fewer visitors, if any at all. If you’re in search of solitude, here are five alternatives around the High Peaks worthy of every mile.

1. Swap One Haystack for the Other

There are several peaks in the Adirondacks which share a name, Haystack being one of them. The High Peak of the two stands adjacent to Mount Marcy, and is commonly bagged in a three-peak pursuit of Haystack, Basin, and Saddleback (“Ha-Ba-Sa”) mountains. The third tallest peak in the park, Mount Haystack is an attractive objective for those in the midst of peak-bagging challenges within the region, but that means it can be pretty popular.

Enter, the quieter Haystack. To the north in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness is another Haystack Mountain with far fewer people. You’ll begin your ascent on the Jackrabbit Trail, so it’s entirely possible you’ll come across another hiker (many use this path simply as a means for a morning power walk). But for the most part, you’ll feel alone. This is a fun Adirondack ascent, with McKenzie Mountain’s twin peaks visible along the way up. Lake Placid, Whiteface, and Esther are visible from lookouts, however, the true summit is fairly wooded.

Credit: Ethan Gresko

2. Settle for a Short Scramble on Catamount Mountain

Picture yourself tackling the scrambles and trekking along the ridges of The Brothers and Big Slide Mountain trail. Rock walls jut upwards at several trail points and welcome a good scramble. Other cliff sections of the park, like scaling the exposed rock of Saddleback Mountain, will tell any naysayers that you are indeed in the mountains. And it’s these features that appeal highly to those seeking more of a “mountain climb” experience without committing to a full-on climbing route.

This type of summit approach is more common than not in the park. But while hikes like The Brothers are appealing, you don’t need to be heading up a 4,000-footer in order to achieve this experience. One of the less crowded options is Catamount. Think of it as the younger sibling of Big Slide, and a much younger sibling of Saddleback.

Located in the Taylor Pond Wilderness near Wilmington, Catamount tops out at just over 3,100 feet with over 1,500 feet in elevation gain. The approach to the mountain is relatively flat and should give the hint that you’ll have your hands full with steeper sections ahead of you. Take note of cairns that will mark the trail on exposed areas and yellow blazes on trees or boulders. For about the last mile, enjoy monkeying along steep grades and heading up “the chimney” portion of trail, a narrow section adjacent to one of the ledges on the mountain. Blueberry patches will line several turns along the trail for a tiny pick me up on your ascent. Finally, the summit will reward you most prominently with views of Whiteface and Esther to the south, and Taylor Pond just below.

Credit: Ethan Gresko

3. Tongue Range Rather Than The Great Range

For hikers seeking a long day literally in the mountains, long ridge traverse like The Great Range are popular, as are routes across the MacIntyre Range. But with parking always an issue, a range in the Southern Adirondacks may be better for a little isolation. Consider the Tongue Range, located off the waters of Lake George. The range has a striking amount of prominence, as it sits on a peninsula dividing the main body of the lake from Northwest Bay. Begin your six-summit, 16-mile traverse with Brown and Huckleberry mountains. Note that as you near Five Mile Mountain, the range high point, a junction will appear to access the summit and the corresponding lean-to. You’re approaching a common turn-around spot for many hikers who wish to split their trip in half, or for those who want to include an overnight in the whole range.

Off of the Five Mile Mountain spur trail, hikers will continue south over Fifth Peak and on to French Point. Enjoy a grassy rest stop here and views of Lake George and the Narrows, before making it out to the final summit of the day, First Peak. Descend down to lake level and Montcalm Point. Enjoy a dip in the waters here and a relatively flat walk out along Northwest Bay before reaching Rt. 9N.

Credit: Ethan Gresko

4. Ease in With Owl’s Head

While much of the Adirondack Park is public, many communities, homes and properties exist on private land. At times, this means beautiful mountains can be off limits to hikers. Other times, trail or land easements exist, and hikers are permitted to access that land while following set rules or paying a fee. One such instance is Owl’s Head, located on private property near the town of Keene.

The access road to this trail is located off of the ever-popular Rt. 73, up the road from well-known beginner High Peak mountains Cascade and Porter. This stretch of road sees no shortage of hikers, so it’s relieving to have a quieter option with all of the competition in the area. Recreators are allowed to hike on the trail Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. This leaves a slimmer window for those accustomed to a sunrise or sunset.

This trail experiences its own fair share of boulder and near-ledge scrambles. Hikers will see roughly 500 feet of elevation gain in about half a mile. Between openings in the trees, exposed rock invites people out to look down on Rt. 73 and adjacent peaks. After a few rounds of swapping scrambles for ledge-breaks, you’ll reach the summit after topping 2,000 feet.

5. Take a Hike on the Northville Placid Trail

Heading out on the NPT will truly allow you to hike your hike. Stretching 136 miles through the park from Northville to the town of Lake Placid, many who enter the trail tend to hike one of its 10 sections or thru-hike the whole length. Many go several sections of the trail without passing another hiker, or depending on the area you’re closest to, a few people out for a day hike. Several lean-tos also exist along the duration of the Northville Placid Trail, providing hikers with an option to make an overnight stop before continuing on to the next point or backtracking out to the car.

Areas of interest along the trail include the town of Piseco, Long Lake, Lake Durant, and the Blue Mountain Lake area, or the stretch through the High Peaks region, passing by the Santanoni and Seward Ranges, as well as Street and Nye mountains among others. Several areas of ascent and descent exist on the trail, but at the end of the day, being on it means going on a walk in the woods rather than scooting up a mountain.