In the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains and oft overlooked in favor of the ever popular Lake George, Moreau Lake State Park has quickly become one of my favorite New York parks for hiking through the fall foliage. I can’t keep using the phrase “hidden gem”, but really; people ought to be talking more about this park!
Only twenty minutes away from Lake George and about four hours from New York City, this park hosts several miles of woodsy hikes of varying difficulties as well as several accessible campsites and a swimmable beach. With hunting, biking, skiing, and horseback riding allowed, there is something for everyone in every season. It’s 120-acre glacier-carved lake is the crown jewel of the park and all of the activities circle around it.
While the park feels enormous and relatively isolated while hiking, the majority of the trails interconnect with one another, making it easy to traverse large portions of the park without backtracking. All of the trails were extremely well maintained and clearly marked with bright trail blazes so I never felt remotely disoriented. I was able to do the leisurely Nature Trail that circled around the lake and then the far more intense out and back Moreau Overlook Trail while I was camping onsite. I highly recommend checking the elevation gain before setting out on a hike because my legs were definitely shaking on my way back down from the overlook. It was, of course, a spectacular view and I highly recommend the hike for enthusiastic visitors- I loved getting a birds eye view of the trails I had just walked below.
I also really enjoyed the informative plaques along my hike. Bird watching seems to be popular in the area given the park’s status as a Bird Conservation Area and I feel like I actually learned a fair amount about the native plants and animals by reading the signage along the Nature Trail- I even saw a beaver dam!
It was a bit of a surprise to come down to the beach area after I had finished my hike. I knew it was there, of course, but it was somewhat of an adjustment to hike out of miles of wooded trails carpeted with fiery leaves and find myself right on a sandy beach that is clearly a favored sunbathing spot for visitors. Even with the brisk fall weather, we saw a few families with their children playing on the beach and the nearby playground.
As much as I enjoyed visiting in late October, it was clear that the park must be far more popular during the summer months. Many of the camping loops were closed for the season and even in our own loop we were one of less than half a dozen campers. Though we saw a few brave kayakers while we were there, between the beach and the boating it seems like a great escape from the heat of summer.