November is the perfect time to go hiking in the 'Dacks: the leaf peepers are gone and ski season hasn’t started yet, so you’ll have the place practically to yourself. Start hoofing it at Crane Mountain Summit (take a right turn on South Johnburg Road, one mile outside of Weverton, a half-hour from North Creek off of Route 8), where a nicely varied, four-and-a-half-mile loop takes hikers up a steep rock face—and a fifteen-step ladder—to the 3,254-foot summit. On the way back down, you’ll pass Crane Mountain Pond, a lovely freshwater bit of stillness, and the perfect spot for a picnic. Allow about four hours to complete the loop.
Chimney Mountain (hook left on Big Brook Road in Indian Lake Village, eighteen miles from North Creek), is a shorter but equally interesting 1.4-mile climb. It offers 360-degree views at the top—a rarity in the Adirondacks—plus lots of rocky outcroppings where you can take a gorgeous, much-deserved breather. (There are also lots of off-trail caves, though they’re too slippery to explore during the colder months.)
Looking for something less taxing? You can scarcely drive a mile in this region without passing a trailhead. Follow Route 28 north four miles past Indian Lake. On the right are pullovers leading to trails that plunge deep into the woods. On your left is the trailhead for Sawyer Mountain, a short, sweet hike that takes you up only 630 feet but ends at a picturesque summit.