Our trips take place on the unceded ancestral and contemporary lands of the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (Mohawk) and Onyota'a:ka (Oneida) Nations, members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Our ability to recreate and learn on this land is a direct result of the forced removal and genocide of these people. We honor the Haudenosaunee people who continue to live and learn on this land in the fight for a decolonized future.
Wilderness Adventure offers seven different types of trips - Backpack, Canoe, Combo, Basecamp, Sea kayak, Mountain bike, and Rock climb - across several relative difficulty levels. No previous wilderness experience is needed for any of our trips, just a willingness to have fun, learn, and meet new people.
Many factors affect the “difficulty” of a trip, distance traveled, elevation gain, weather, and even your previous experience with the activity. What might be easy for one person could feel pretty hard for another. With that in mind, the difficulty levels below are subjective and tend to work best for comparing one trip type to itself.
In other words, the difficulty levels for the backpacking trips are a pretty good indication of how hard those trips will “feel” relative to one another, but there isn’t much use in comparing the difficulty of a backpacking trip to the difficulty of a sea kayaking trip -- there are too many variables involved.
In addition, the itineraries all have some flexibility involved and your trip leaders will be able to adjust the exact itinerary based on all the variables listed above.
At the end of the day, we believe that a positive mental attitude, a little bit of determination, and a willingness to try new things is enough to get anyone through even the hardest trips we offer.
- WA 2021 is August 17 - August 22, 2021
Depending on demand, interest, conditions, etc. not all trips described here will run every year. When you register, you will only be selecting your activity and difficulty, you cannot register for a specific route.
Backpacking trips are the "classic" WA and by far our most popular option. We have fantastic routes for any ability level. Whichever trip you choose, you'll travel through beautiful wilderness, meet an amazing group of people, and learn everything you need to know to be safe and comfortable in the woods.
The West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area is one of the most scenic areas of the central Adirondacks. On this point-to-point trip you will hike between 3-6 miles each day over both flat and hilly terrain while carrying everything you need on your back. There will be plenty of lakes to dip your feet in and wild vistas to take your breath away. You’ll arrive in camp by early afternoon leaving plenty of time to relax before dinner.
This trip hikes in a loop starting and ending under scenic Pillsbury Mountain, home to one of the most popular fire-tower lookouts in the Adirondacks. On this trip you will hike between 4-6 miles each day over both flat and hilly terrain while carrying everything you need on your back. You’ll pass numerous lakes and have the possibility of a bushwack to historic French Louie’s “cave,” the one time homestead of an infamous fur trapper and hermit who lived in this region in the mid-19th century. You’ll arrive in camp by early afternoon leaving plenty of time to relax before dinner.
Travel along portions of the Northville-Placid Trail in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. On these point-to-point trips you will hike between 3-9 miles each day over both flat and hilly terrain while carrying everything you need on your back. Along the way there will be plenty of lakes to dip your feet in and wild vistas to take your breath away. Some days will be longer than others, but you’ll arrive in camp by early afternoon leaving plenty of time to relax before dinner.
Traveling through the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness you will pass numerous beautiful lakes, including the areas name-sake, Pharaoh Lake, which is one of the largest Adirondack lakes that is completely surrounded by wilderness. You’ll also have the opportunity to summit one (or both!) of the two peaks in the area Treadway Mountain (2,244 ft.) and Pharaoh Mountain (2,556 ft.). Traveling between 3-9 miles each day over terrain that will sometimes be hilly and steep, there will be plenty of trail breaks along the way and you’ll arrive in camp each afternoon.
Hike nearly every mile of trail in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness while carrying only the necessities and a backpack that is 30-40% lighter than typical packs. Some previous backpacking experience may be helpful, but it is not required; we can teach you everything you need to know about the specialized equipment and camping techniques necessary to experience the splendor of wilderness travel together with the glory of a light pack. This trip covers 5-12 miles a day over hilly and steep terrain and summits both Treadway Mountain (2,244 ft.) and Pharaoh Mountain (2,556 ft.). Days are challenging, but light packs make the longer days manageable.
On the eastern edge of the High Peaks Wilderness Area is a group of peaks known as the Dix Range. On this trip you’ll spend the first two days backpacking up and over the sixth highest peak in the state, Dix Mountain (4,857 ft.), before making your way down to the Lillian Brook where you can cool your feet off in the cold mountain waters running down from the summit of nearby Hough Peak. Day 3 includes a day hike (no packs!) up a few of the trailless peaks that make up the remainder of the Dix Range, including possible summits of Hough (4,400 ft.), Macomb (4,405 ft.), South Dix (4,060 ft.), and Grace (4,012 ft.) mountains. This trip covers 4-8 miles a day with a total elevation gain between 4,000 and up to 7,000 feet depending on which peaks your group hikes. While this trip is physically demanding, there are plenty of trail breaks and time to relax in camp each night.
Hike the highest peak in New York, Mount Marcy (5,344 ft.) and several other of the 46 high peaks on this amazing adventure to the heart of the High Peaks Wilderness. On day one you’ll hike in to establish your basecamp so that on day two you can summit Mount Marcy and possibly Gray (4,840 ft.). On day three you’ll break camp and backpack up and over Algonquin (5,114 ft.) with the possibility of also summiting Iroquois (4,840 ft.). Traveling 3-7 miles per day, this trip features steep climbs with total elevation gains between 6000-7000 ft. depending on which peaks you do. The days will be challenging, and you may not get into camp until dinnertime, but there are plenty of breaks and amazing views along the way!
Traverse across the High Peaks Region from Elk Lake to the Town of Keene, summiting Mount Marcy (5,344 ft.) along the way. Carrying only the necessities and a backpack that is 30-40% lighter than typical packs, this trip moves camp every day covering big miles, and peaks, nearly every day. Some previous backpacking experience may be helpful, but it is not required; we can teach you everything you need to know about the specialized equipment and camping techniques necessary to experience the splendor of wilderness travel together with the glory of a light pack. This trip covers 5-9 miles per day and features steep climbs with total elevation gain of up to ~9,000 ft. depending on the peaks you do. In addition to Mount Marcy, this trip may climb Skylight (4,920 ft.), Big Slide (4,240 ft.), Lower Wolfjaw (4,175 ft.), and Upper Wolfjaw (4,185 ft.). Days are challenging, but light packs make the longer days manageable.
For every peak in the Adirondacks, there are hundreds of miles of waterways. In total, the 'Dacks have over 3,000 lakes and ponds and over 30,000 miles of rivers and streams! Our canoe routes explore some of the very best and offer trips at a variety of challenge levels.
Starting and ending in the town of Long Lake, this trip paddles the entire northern half of the town’s namesake stopping at various campsites and lean-tos along the way. Long Lake is a glacially carved lake that borders the High Peaks Wilderness along its entire eastern edge. On this trip, you’ll paddle between 2-6 miles per day, leaving plenty of time in the afternoons to rest, relax, and get to know all about your group and Colgate.
On the western side of the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest Area is a series of more than a dozen small ponds which connect to Upper Saranac Lake at Fish Creek Bay. This trip travels in a loop through these small ponds connecting one to the next through either small streams or short portages (carrying your canoe over land). Days vary from 2.5 to 9.5 miles with portages of around 0.25 miles or less. Though some days are longer, you’ll still have lots of time in camp each evening to make dinner and hang out.
On this trip you’ll paddle the beginning of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a 700-mile wilderness waterway that stretches from Old Forge, NY all the way to Kent, ME. This route is also the start of the famous Adirondack Canoe Classic, a 90-mile race held annually in the Adirondacks. Your trip won’t cover quite so many miles, but you’ll still have a good challenge with days ranging from 2-15 miles of paddling and portages up to 1.4 miles. Some previous canoe experience may prove helpful but is certainly not necessary, we can teach you everything you need to know to make the miles breeze by. This trip offers plenty of challenge, but also lots of reward, with stunning wilderness and lots of natural and cultural history to explore. In camp, you’ll still have time to relax before dinner, cook tasty meals, and maybe have a swim.
Combo trips offer the best of both worlds, allowing you to explore the Adirondacks from the water and from land. Each of our combo trips explore beautiful trails and pristine waterways. These trips also "flip" with another trip by meeting in the middle to exchange backpacks for canoes.
Starting or ending in the town of Wanakena, this trip explores much of Cranberry Lake, half in a canoe, and half carrying a backpack. In the middle, you’ll meet up with another group who is doing the same trip in reverse and trade off canoes for backpacks. Combo trips are always popular since you get to experience the beauty of the Adirondacks from the land and water. The picturesque Cranberry Lake, at nearly 7,000 acres, is one of the largest lakes in the Adirondacks. While there are some private residences on the lake you will mostly be surrounded by wilderness. On this trip, you’ll paddle between 4-6 miles per day and hike between 2-6 miles per day while still having plenty of time to relax in camp.
Traverse across the Five Ponds Wilderness Area though some of the most scenic and serene wilderness the the Adirondacks. You’ll spend two days canoeing down the Bog River and Low’s Lake and two days backpacking on the southern section of the Cranberry Lake 50 trail, with a possible side trip to the summit of Cat Mountain (2,257 ft.). This combo trip brings you to truly some of the most beautiful spots in the entire park. On this trip, you’ll paddle between 5-7 miles per day and hike between 6-9 miles per day and still have plenty of time to relax in camp at the end of each day.
Basecamp trips are slightly less rustic and physically demanding than our typical options but still provide plenty of adventure. These trips may have access to showers (though this cannot be guaranteed) and typically sleep in either a cabin, yurt*, or tent-camping at a front-country state campground.
*A yurt is a 30' diameter circular tent made of wood and canvas. They have a permanent foundation, and are typically equipped with wood and/or propane stoves, couches, and bunk beds.
From your Base Camp near Old Forge, New York you will explore the best of what the Southern Adirondacks has to offer by foot and bike! On this trip you will hike Bald Mountain, one of the most popular peaks in the Adirondack State park and explore the area surrounding Old Forge and the nearby town of Inlet by bike on the TOBIE Trail. Before heading back to campus, you will take a pit stop in Central New York to rappel down a local waterfall. Each evening, you will return to your tent campsites at a New York State Campground (with bathrooms and showers).
Based right in the town of Hamilton, this trip will explore the best the Chenango Valley, and Central New York, has to offer. On this trip, you’ll climb high on Colgate’s ropes course, hike the rim of Whetstone Gulf, and spend one night camping at a New York State campground with showers and bathrooms. You’ll also get to try rock climbing at nearby Moss Island right next to the historic Erie Canal and may even see Lock 17 in action. Other options include canoeing or paddle-boarding on nearby Lake Moraine, and exploring the Hamilton Farmers Market. Most evenings are spent back at Colgate’s Beattie Reserve where you will prepare dinner and sleep in our yurt, but for one night, you'll go on a mini-adventure tent-camping at a New York State drive-up campground.
From your basecamp in the High Peaks Region you’ll explore some of the most beautiful and iconic spots in the area, including the opportunity to summit one or two of the 46 High Peaks, Cascade (4,098 ft.) and Porter (4,059 ft.). You’ll also experience the thrill of whitewater rafting on either the Black or Hudson River. On the last day you’ll head back to campus early and spend the afternoon at nearby Lake Moraine where you can try out canoeing or paddle-boarding. Each evening, you will return to your tent campsites at a New York State Campground (with bathrooms and showers). Though this trip is one of our “Basecamp” trips, some of the activities, like hiking a 46er and white water rafting are more challenging compared to the other Basecamp options.
This trip is a great way to explore the Adirondacks and try out a new skill. Even if you've kayaked before, there is much to discover about paddling a sea kayak fully loaded with all your camping gear for a week.
Paddle sea kayaks across picturesque Cranberry Lake, which at nearly 7,000 acres is one of the largest lakes in the Adirondacks. While there are some private residences on the lake, you’ll mostly be surrounded by wilderness. Sea kayaks are specialty vessels designed to carry all the gear for camping while also traveling fast and smooth through the water. You don’t need any previous experience, your instructors will teach you everything you need to know. Importantly, you will be required to learn and perform a “wet exit” on the first day, which is an important safety maneuver for getting out of a kayak if you tip over (it’ll be a lot warmer on your trip than in this video). Daily paddling distance will be between 3-8 miles, with plenty of time each afternoon to wade in the lake and cook in camp.
Our rock climbing trips are amazing adventures, combining top-rope climbing, with peak ascents, and the chance to try out some harder moves while bouldering.
No previous experience necessary, we will teach you everything you need to know from harnesses to hand-holds. In fact, if you are a very strong or experienced climber, we’d recommend trying out a different activity as this is definitely a more intro trip.
From your basecamp on the shore of Piseco Lake, your travel throughout the southern and central Adirondacks exploring peaks and crags in the Silver Lake Wilderness and West Canada Lake Wilderness. With two days of top-rope climbing, a day to climb a peak, most likely Crane (3,254 ft.) or Snowy (3,899 ft.), and a day of bouldering, this is a true sampler of southern Adirondack climbing. Each night you’ll return to your campsite for dinner and relaxing around the campfire.
Nestled in the valley between the High Peaks, Giant Mountain, and the Dix Range is Keene, NY, the quintessential Adirondack mountain town. From your basecamp at a New York State campground, you’ll explore the mountains and crags around the valley. With two days of top-rope climbing, a day to climb one of the 46 High Peaks, most likely Giant (4,627 ft.) or Cascade (4,098 ft.), and a day of bouldering, this is a true sampler of Adirondack climbing. Each night you’ll return to your campsite for dinner and relaxing around the campfire.
Don't be put off by a lack of previous experience, this trip is great for anyone who can confidently ride a bike, even if you've never mountain biked before. This trip features rides for all abilities and plenty of flexibility in the daily plan. You'll also get to see many different parts of the park as you travel north from campus all the way to the High Peaks region.
Get to know the trails in three distinct parts of Upstate New York. Starting off with the trails right in your new backyard, you’ll learn/review the basics of mountain biking right on Colgate’s own trails on day one. From there, you’ll travel to the heart of the Adirondacks for a day of biking on the trails at McCauley Mountain in Old Forge. Next, you’ll head up to the High Peaks Region and explore the trails in and around Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and Wilmington. This trip is designed as a progression from easier up to harder trails with instruction built into each day. Still, we do ask that you already know how to confidently ride a bike (though not mountain bike) before signing up for this trip. The exact itinerary and trails ridden will vary based on the ability of the group with plenty of options each day for everyone. You’ll spend evenings playing games, cooking group meals, and camping out in local state parks.
*If you have your own mountain bike, please check with us before you bring it - it should have at least front suspension. Colgate has mountain bikes and helmets available free of charge.