Take a piece of the ‘Daks with you—and help keep the trails hike-able for generations—with this new collaboration between Eastern Mountain Sports and Cotopaxi: The ADK Teca Half-Zip Windbreaker (find one in-store). A portion of the proceeds from the jacket go straight to the now-100-year-old Adirondack Mountain Club to support it’s mission to protect New York’s wild lands and waters by promoting responsible outdoor recreation and building a statewide constituency of land stewardship advocates.

The Adirondack Mountain Club’s Johns Brook Lodge is a High Peaks basecamp to best all others. Just 3.5-miles from the parking lot, this backcountry lodge is the ultimate starting point for a myriad of different hikes and adventures in the core of the Adirondack Mountains. During summertime, JBL visitors can focus on the hiking and let the lodge’s staff handle breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and visitors can come back to comfortable bunks. But during the day, a wealth of hiking is within arm’s reach of the lodge’s picturesque front porch, deep in the John’s Brook Valley.

Big Slide Mountain from near The Brothers. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns

1. Big Slide Mountain

Big Slide’s broad open summit is just over 2.5 miles from the John’s Brook property and offers incredible views down on the Johns Brook Valley. Take the Slide Mountain Brook Trail from the Phelps Trail (which is used to access JBL) as it climbs steeply north. Be careful early in the season or after rain storms: The trail makes regular stream crossings which can be dangerous at high water. Pack some trekking poles to make steading your footing a little easier. Hiking Big Slide also makes a great route for your hike into or out of JBL: From the summit, a different trail heads 4 miles east over a series of subpeaks called “The Brothers” before finishing at The Garden Parking Area.

The view from Gothics looking toward the heart of the Great Range. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns

2. Gothics Mountain via Ore Bed Brook

Gothics is a favorite of the Adirondack’s 46er Peaks for obvious reasons once you near the top: Gorgeous summit views open up in nearly every direction from the heart of the Great Range. The 3.1-mile hike to the top via the Ore Bed Brook Trail is one of the more difficult, but rewarding ways to reach the mountain. The trail follows the deeply-gouged creek and a slide path that runs along it up a series of wooden staircases to the col between Gothics and Saddleback Mountain. From there, the infamous Cables Route—a series of rocky ledges and slabby rock, strung together with a cable as a handhold—leads the way to the alpine summit. Looking for a little extra? Tack on Armstrong Mountain or Pyramid Peak.

The gorge formed by Johns Brook where the suspension bridge crosses it. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns

3. The Southside Trail Loop

The Southside Trail, which runs on the opposite side of Johns Brook from the Phelps Trail, is a hidden gem of the valley. Technically unmaintained for the last few years, it sees far less traffic than the popular route on the other side, and is still relatively easy to follow. Pass the DEC’s Interior Outpost then cross a spectacular (and relatively new) suspension bridge over a deep gorge in the brook before heading north along single and double track. Keep your eyes peeled for numerous pools down and left in Johns Brook—perfect for cooling down on a hot summer day. Cross Johns Brook and double back on the Phelps Trail. The whole loop is roughly 5.9 miles.

Bushnell Falls. | Courtesy: Allan Beaufour

4. Bushnell Falls

The 20-foot Bushnell Falls sits on Johns Brook just 1.5-miles uphill (southwest) of JBL and makes a great spot to cool off, do some swimming, or have lunch only a short distance from the lodge. The falls cut through bedrock to form a deep gorge on the brook, and are fun to combine with nearly every other hike in the area.

Mount Marcy from the Wolfjaws. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns

5. Upper and Lower Wolfjaw Mountains

It’s only 1.9 steep miles from JBL up the Woodsfall and Wolfjaw Trails to the deep saddle between the two Wolfjaw Peaks. From the col, it’s 0.5 miles one-way to Lower Wolfjaw and 0.9 miles to Upper Wolfjaw, both of which offer great views along the Great Range and into the Marcy Group to the southwest. For a more interesting climb, consider hiking the Bennies Brook slidepath from the Southside Trail to the summit of Lower Wolfjaw. The path has been scraped down to bedrock, so bring shoes with good, grippy rubber, but it never gets too steep.

Mount Marcy from Mount Haystack, during a Great Range Traverse. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns

6. The Great Range Traverse

Completing the entire Great Range Traverse from JBL is one of the lest-exhausting ways to complete this bucket list and still incredibly difficult hike. Start from the Lodge and hike uphill on the Phelps Trail early in the morning to summit Mount Marcy near sunrise. Then begin working your way northeast, tagging Haystack, Basin, Saddleback, Gothics, Armstrong, Upper Wolfjaw, and Lower Wolfjaw. If collecting the 46er peaks is your goal, you can head back down to JBL for a well-deserved dinner. But if you want to complete the entire traverse itself, keep heading downhill to Keene Valley—Spending the night prior at JBL will have cut off more than 3.5 miles of hiking.