Old Forge, and the neighboring town of Inlet, is a four-season destination for many families. Although there are a plethora of family-friendly activities to be had in the area, there’s one that doesn’t cost any money and will provide you with a lifetime of memories. There are so many beautiful hikes in Old Forge it can be tough to choose just one… but let me help you try and narrow it down!
If you’re new to hiking, it’s important to note that preparedness is a necessity! Check out my hiking 101 guide for everything you need to know to get started. Follow the guide for information that will help to keep you safe on your adventures while having a positive impact on the wild spaces you’re exploring.
Where Can I Hike in Old Forge
- 2 miles
- Rondaxe Rd, Old Forge
One of the most popular hikes in Old Forge, and for good reason! Bald Mountain is home to Rondaxe fire tower and sees as many as 15,000 visitors a year. It is a beautiful, fairly easy hike to a summit boasting beautiful views of first and second lake. The trail has one steep section (microspikes & snowshoes are necessary for winter) and will have you traversing some bare rock. Although it is an easier trail, I wouldn’t recommend this trail for families with very young, hiking children; the bare rock sections make me nervous with little ones.
Due to its popularity, you’re likely to find trash on the summit of Bald Mountain. Do your part! Pack your trash out with you (this includes toilet paper) and if at all possible, pack out the trash others have left behind. Leave it better than you found it!
How Long Will it Take me to Hike Bald Mountain?
- Experienced Hiker: If you’re an experienced hiker that moves at a decent pace, it shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes to reach the summit.
- Family with Young Children: Although Bald isn’t technical, it does have a few steeper sections and some questionable rocky footing. To reach the summit of Bald Mountain, it may take a family with young children 40-45 minutes.
Black Bear Mountain
- 4.7 mile loop
- Route 28, Inlet
This gorgeous trail can make for an awesome day in the mountains! Hit it as a loop (blue and yellow trail markers) for 4.7 miles or an out and back (blue trail only) if you’re looking for a shorter distance. The trail is steady and provides options for hikers of different skill and endurance levels. The blue trail to the summit is slightly shorter and steeper than the yellow trail. There is a fun little rock scramble just before the summit on the blue trail as well.
The summit is spacious, providing room for all parties. It’s also an awesome space to explore! There are some absolutely gorgeous views from the summit of Black Bear. If at all possible, get up there for sunrise on the northeast side of the mountain and you will not be disappointed.
How Long Will it Take me to Hike Black Bear Mountain?
- Experienced Hiker: If you’re an experienced hiker that moves at a decent pace, it may take you between 60 and 75 minutes to reach the summit. If you’re incredibly speedy you can make it to the summit in a little over 45 minutes if you’re hauling.
- Family with Young Children: Black Bear isn’t technical and consists of a mostly steady uphill. The blue trail does have a steep section that includes rock scrambles, whereas the yellow trail is less steep and a tad longer. I would suggest a family with small children allot for 1. 5 to 2 hours to reach the summit.
- .4 miles
- Route 28, Inlet
A short little jaunt in the woods to a viewpoint of seventh lake. This trail is home to some beautiful, impressive-sized pine trees. It also houses a monument dedicated to 2LT. Malcolm Blue.
How Long Will it Take me to Hike the Cathedral Pines Trail?
- Experienced Hiker: This trail is pretty simple… you’ll be back to your car in about 30 minutes.
- Family with Young Children: This is a great trail for the family to explore! To simply head out and back shouldn’t take you longer than 45 minutes.
Gull Lake Trail
- 1 mile
- Route 28, Old Forge
A great trail for all skill levels! This hike gains a mere 100 feet of elevation over the course of its mile-long trek to the lake. This short, but scenic walk will bring you to a beautiful view of Gull Lake. As one of the shorter hikes in Old Forge, I would suggest this trail for beginners and those hiking with young children.
How Long Will it Take me to Hike the Gull Lake Trail?
- Experienced Hiker: This trail is pretty simple… you’ll be back to your car in about 45 minutes to an hour depending on how long you take in the views for.
- Family with Young Children: This is another great trail for the family! Since it doesn’t gain too much elevation, it’s an easy 2 miles round trip for the kiddos. I would say you could be back at your vehicle in an hour and a half or less.
Moss Lake Loop
- 2.5 miles
- Big Moose Road, Eagle Bay
This pleasant hike around Moss Lake is a wonderful way to get outside for the whole family. It is definitely one of the best loop hikes in Old Forge. This trail is truly suitable for all skill levels. There are a number of primitive camping sites along the backside of this trail as well a picnicking area. The campsites are marked on the board at the start of the trail – it’s a convenient way to see if the site you’re looking to backpack into it available or not.
How Long Will it Take me to Hike the Moss Lake Loop?
- Experienced Hiker: The Moss Lake Loop will be a walk in the park for an experienced hiker. It took me about an hour to hike the full loop.
- Family with Young Children: This is an awesome trail for families for a few reasons. There are some ups and downs, but nothing major. It’s a great opportunity to have your little ones hiking a longer, but simpler distance. Additionally, there are benches and picnic tables throughout the hike for when you need a rest. This hike would realistically take your family an hour and a half to two hours depending on how much rest you take along the way!
Nicks Lake Loop
- 6.2 miles
- Bisby Rd., Old Forge
A beautiful hike, bike, or ski through the Black River Wild Forest and around Nicks Lake. Although on the somewhat longer side, this hike features easy terrain and really cool features such as bridges and beaches. The hike will lead you to the beach at Nick’s Lake Campground; trail markers can get a little spotty around this point but you should be able to find the trail again! If not, walking, riding, or skiing the road for the final 1.5 miles is always an option.
How Long Will it Take me to Hike the Nicks Lake Loop?
- Experienced Hiker: This trail isn’t difficult, however, it is on the longer side of things. This hike will likely take you around 3 hours to complete.
- Family with Young Children: Although the Nicks Lake Loop isn’t technical or steep it is long. I would only suggest this trail for a family with young children who are used to hiking. With young children who are conditioned hikers, needing minimal rest, this trail would take you between 4 and 4.6 hours to complete.
- 6.9 miles
- McKeever Rd., Forestport
This is a moderately trafficked 6.9-mile trail about 15 miles south of Old Forge. This trail is mostly an old railroad turned gravel road and is best used from April through September; if you do hike this trail during hunting season, it’s essential you wear bright colors. This is state land and great hunting grounds.
A popular way to reach this trail is to hike or bike on the old railroad gravel road located to the left at the McKeever Parking Area. You can also drive your vehicle along Wolf Lake Landing Road, which is to the right of the large McKeever parking area. Drive this road up to the next parking area. This will cut a lot of walking from your hike. From this point, take the blue marked Remsen Falls Trail to your destination and enjoy!
How Long Will it Take me to Hike to Remsen Falls?
- Experienced Hiker: This depends largely on where you’re starting your hike. If you’ll be hiking the full 6.9 miles, this will likely take you three and a half hours round trip.
- Family with Young Children: I wouldn’t suggest this trail for families with young children unless you park at the second parking area and/or bike to the falls. It’s important to note that although the terrain isn’t technical, I would only bring children who are quite comfortable on a bicycle if that’s how you decide to tackle the mileage!
- 1 mile
- Route 28, Inlet
A great first summit for a family! (and one of my personal favorite hikes in Old Forge). Another really popular hike in the Old Forge area, at only 1-mile round trip this is a very doable trail for most. Its short, .5-mile ascent, means you’re gaining over 400 feet of elevation in a short amount of time. Luckily, this elevation gain is steady and never too steep or technical. The summit provides gorgeous views of 4th lake and the winding road below. It is beautiful any time of year (however, winter preparation means carrying and having microspikes and snowshoes)!
How Long Will it Take me to Hike Rocky Mountain?
- Experienced Hiker: You will find yourself at the summit in 20 minutes or less!
- Family with Young Children: This is a great mountain for families! The one-mile ascent does gain a bit of elevation, but isn’t ever overly steep and is the perfect challenge for the kids. With young, inexperienced children it would likely take you 30 – 45 minutes to reach the summit.
Sis & Bubb Lake
- 1.8 miles
- Route 28, Inlet
This is a heavily trafficked little out and back just outside of Inlet. It’s relatively flat and leads to two beautiful lakeside views. This trail has a spur trail to a vista view if you’re looking for a little bit of elevation gain. Additionally, this trail continues on past the lakes for 1.2 miles to meet up with the Moss Lake Trail.
How Long Will it Take me to Hike to Sis & Bubb Lake?
- Experienced Hiker: You’ll likely find yourself at Sis Lake in 15-20 minutes.
- Family with Young Children: This is another awesome trail for families as the only real elevation gain occurs in the first quarter-mile of the hike. It would likely take you 30-45 minutes to reach Sis Lake.
- 14.4 miles
- McKeever Rd., Forestport
The Woodhull Mountain Trail begins at the McKeever Road trailhead. This is one of the longest hikes in Old Forge, making it a less popular hike in the area; luckily, that often means some solitude. Due to its length, a popular way to reach the summit is to bike on the old railroad gravel road located on the left at the large McKeever Parking Area. After about 5 miles of biking, you’ll come to a point where biking is no longer feasible. At that point, you can tie up your mountain bike before hiking the rest of the mountain.
Similar to The Remsen Falls trail, you can also drive your vehicle along the Wolf Lake Landing Road on the right of the large McKeever parking area. This road leads up to another parking area. Starting here cuts a lot of mileage off your hike, however, it’s still at least a 9+ mile round trip hike. From this parking area, riding your bike is still an option until you reach the area where the trail becomes thin and hiking is your best option.
How Long Will it Take me to Hike Woodhull Mountain?
- Experienced Hiker: It’s hard to tell! It largely depends on where you park and how you approach the trail. We parked at the first parking lot and rode our bikes for the first 5 miles. Even on two wheels, this hike took us a few hours to complete.
- Family with Young Children: I would not suggest this hike for families with young children.
BONUS: Old Forge Hiking Challenge
If you hike Rocky, Black Bear, and Bald Mountain during your time in Old Forge, you’ve completed the Fulton Chain Trifecta. Congratulations! This is a great beginner hiking challenge that’s perfect for getting a family into the hiking scene.
There’s More to Do than Hiking in Old Forge
Think about making Old Forge into your next staycation location! There are a number of great restaurants, awesome accommodations, and endless fun opportunities no matter what time of year you are visiting. Take the family for a fun-filled day at Enchanted Forest Water Safari or up the thrills and hit the mountain for some downhill mountain biking, skiing, or snowboarding!