By Mwanner – Wikimedia

Top 10 Interesting facts about the Adirondack Mountains


These mountains are New York’s most expansive landmark; they are not only historic but also spectacular. The Adirondack mountains sit on 6 million acres of land filled with beautiful flora and fauna.

Whether you are in New York, Montreal, Boston or Philadelphia, you can get to these mountains in a few hours. There is a lot of activities to do here, a perfect getaway, hiking, fishing, white water rafting, swimming, camping or glamping too.

The mountains cover a vast land the consists of public land, protected wilderness and private land too.

A quick fact before we dive in into the top 10 interesting facts, the Adirondack mountains are not part of the Appalachian Mountains, their geological formation is different.

Let’s get started on the interesting facts about the Adirondack mountains.

1. The Largest Lake in America is found at the Adirondack mountains

The Adirondack Park surrounding the mountains is home to over 3,000 lakes and ponds. There are more than 99 miles of shoreline and 19 islands in the park.

Raquette Lake is the largest natural lake within the Adirondack Park. The lake was named after a massive heap of racquets was found on a hill at the southern side of the lake. Its shoreline is more than 100 miles long and is lined with beautiful pine trees.

This lake is the centre of attraction to all that visit the park, its cool waters have drawn many to take relaxing boat rides, swim. During the winter, many flocks the lake for exciting winter activities.

The picturesque lake and its history have left many that visited the park with memorable experiences.

2. The Adirondack Mountains are over 5 million years old

Photo by Delphine Beausoleil on Unsplash

The Adirondack Mountains have in existence for more than 5 million years. It is considered to be one of the landmarks that survived the ice age.

Despite being more than 5 million years, the mountains are said to be pretty young and new because its dome was formed later than most of the rocks in the mountain.

It all started as a small glacier that carved its way through the New York landscape. With constant glacial deposits, the mountains were formed.

As the glaciers broke, they formed depressions and melted away leaving ponds also known as kettle holes that extended below the water table.

These mountains do not form a connected range which is the case of the Rockies and the Appalachians. Rather, the Adirondack mountains are made up of 100 plus peaks and 160-mile dome.

3. The mountain is home to several species of flora and fauna

As mentioned earlier, the mountains are home to a variety of birds and plants thanks to its weather patterns. It is a paradise for researchers, birdwatching fans, explorers and curious nature lovers.

The mountains have provided beautiful homes to blue herons, the painted turtle that lives in the lakes, grouse, bald eagle, the great horned owl and loons. There are hardwoods, fir, spruce that make up the sheltered forests.

Migratory birds call the forests home mostly during fall and spring. This is when the birding festival is held at the park to celebrate the annual event.

You will be lucky to catch the bald eagle which is a rare sight. But all the same the other birds and animals are a sight to behold.

4. The Adirondack Mountains are massive

By Mwanner – Wikimedia

It is estimated that the Adirondack mountains occupy at least 6 million acres of land. To give you a clear picture, it is the size of Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and the Great Smoky Mountains put together.

Due to glacial erosion that occurred, the mountains have formed a dome that is about 260 kilometres wide and 1,600 metres tall.

There are more 3000 lakes found in the park, the rivers and streams flowing through the park are at least 30,000 miles long. You will also find several swamps, marshland and ponds around the mountains.

The mountain terrain of the Adirondacks is made up of foothills and peaks between 1000 to 4000 feet high.

5. The Name Adirondack is a tribal name of the native’s habit

The Mohawks and Algonquin tribes used to occupy the area around the mountains long before white settlers came. The Algonquin would resort to eating tree barks during the famine. So, the Mohawks called them Haderondah, meaning tree bark eaters.

As the white settlers came, they pronounced it as Adirondack. A French missionary, Joseph-François Lafitau, wrote in 1729 that the term was used against the Algonquins as a derogatory term for their lack of food during winter.

The Mohawks were crop farmers, therefore, had enough food throughout the seasons.

Since the two tribes did not have a written language, the missionary used various phonetic spellings to arrive at the current name.

The mountains were initially known as Deer hunting Country, in 1761, before being named Adirondack mountains in 1837 by Ebenezer Emmons.

6. The Adirondack mountains are the Source of the Hudson River

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The famous Hudson River that snakes through New York City has its source up the mountains. Hudson River is a tributary of Lake Tear of the Clouds, on Mount Marcy.

The Hudson River flows through Newcomb, New York and New Jersey making it a total of 215 miles long. The river is known by different names as it leaves its source. From the start, it forms the Feldspar Brook flowing into Opalescent River, feeds Calamity Brook next to Henderson lake then emerges as the Hudson.

It forms the boundary between New York and New Jersey. The waters of the river flow up north to the city of Troy.

7. A Catholic Saint Was the First European to Travel Through the Mountains

The first European man to traverse the mountains was Isaac Jogues who was from France. His experience was not voluntary though, he was captured by one of the tribes living close to the mountain.

He was taken deep into the forest and was tortured, the tribe pulled out his fingernails and even cut two fingers from his right hand.

Jogues was then taken to present New York, through Lake Champlain, and Saranac Lake. This made him the first outsider to see the inside of the Adirondack Park.

Dutch merchants saved him after being in captivity for more than 13 months. After going back home and getting a hero’s welcome, Jogues returned to the Adirondacks as a government official in 1646.

The Mohawks weren’t pleased with his return and accused him of witchcraft. He was beheaded. To honour his memory and service, Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1930 as a saint.

8. The Adirondacks Draw More Tourists than the Grand Canyon

It is estimated that at least 7 million people visit the Adirondack mountains and park annually. The mountains became popular mid-1860s after William Henry Harrison Murray published a book about camp life in the Adirondacks.

That summer, tourists from Boston and New York, flooded the mountains after reading his book and wanting to experience the wilderness.

This was followed by the construction of hotels, campsites and resorts that offered accommodation to hikers, campers and other nature lovers.

Due to the emergence of several lodges, New York state constituted the land as a forest preserve that shall forever remain as wild forest lands.

9. Adirondack Park is made up of both Public and Private Land

By Mwanner – Wikimedia

50% of the land around Adirondack park is privately owned. 2.5 million acres of the park has been set aside by New York state for conservation. This is the only forest reserve that is protected under its state’s constitution in the US.

The private owners are, however, under a regulatory category that prevents them from deforestation and further development.

They have been designated for forestry, agriculture, and open space recreation. At least 130,000 people live in small towns and villages around the park.

10. Esther Mountain named after a 15 yr. old that was the first female to climb the mountain

By Mwanner – Wikimedia

Esther McComb was the first female climber to ascend the peak of the Adirondacks when she was 15-years old in 1839. She was attempting to peak the higher whiteface mountain.

In her honour, it was named Esther Mountain and is the only peak in the Adirondacks that is named after a woman.

This mountain is the 28th highest peak and is found in Essex county.