There’s no doubt about it, time spent outdoors immersed in nature and away from the chaos of the modern world is good for humans. There have been many scientific studies conducted on this phenomenon and now there is even a diagnosis for people who don’t get outside enough: Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD.)
The good news is treatment options for NDD are plentiful, particularly in the Adirondacks. All you have to do is follow Mother Nature’s prescription to get outside and play. The cost of this prescription is not incurred at your local pharmacy, rather this medicine requires an investment of something even more personal and historically in short supply than your money - your time. But wait! There’s more good news. It turns out even small doses of outdoor exercise can have remarkable effects on health, according to a report in the publication Environmental Science and Technology.
For the time-crunched seeking the rejuvenation of time spent in nature, getting away from it all and playing outdoors in the Adirondacks doesn’t have to mean leaving civilization for a week’s backpacking trip into the wilderness. If you are looking for a quick dose of Adirondack feel good, I highly recommend a classic hike with a trailhead just minutes outside the Village of Lake Placid; Pitchoff Mountain, located in the Adirondack’s Sentinel Range Wilderness Area.
The entire traverse of Pitchoff involves a five mile hike over a five-summit ridge, with the highest point around 3,500 feet. Hikers can start at the Cascade trailhead located on New York State Route 73, just 5 miles from the Village of Lake Placid, and finish at the East trailhead 2.7 miles down Route 73 (or vice versa) using a two vehicle shuttle.
As you climb, prepare to be awed by close-up views of the two Cascade Lakes and Cascade Mountain. When you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with views of the Sentinel Range and the High Peaks including Algonquin, Colden, Marcy, and Whiteface Mountains. On a clear day you can see across Lake Champlain to the Green Mountains of Vermont.
For the previously mentioned time-crunched among us, a nice short, but steep, ascent of Pitchoff is accessed via the Pitchoff East trailhead. The rocky 1.4 mile climb takes hardy scramblers to the eastern summit ridge in less than an hour, including stops for black fly swatting and whining. Don’t forget the bug repellent for summer hiking.
As usual when hiking in the Adirondacks, be prepared for drastic weather changes. Adirondack mountain tops tend to be breezy and the temperature can be 40 degrees colder on top than at the trail head start.