This trail gives a taste of Adirondack hiking a bit closer to the capital region. Hike this route for the technical fun and true wilderness feel. Climbing the infamous staircase of death rewards with great views of Moreau Lake and the ridge trail offers several vistas overlooking the Hudson.
The spier falls parking lot is free. You can also access the route from the park's main gate which requires a day use fee from spring to fall. The only bathrooms and water fountains are near the beach.
Starting at the free spier falls parking lot (you can also start at the beach for a day use fee), head back toward the entrance of the parking lot and you'll find the trail on the right side. You'll be following the Western Ridge Trail
with yellow markers. These first 2.5 miles are the easiest and least technical section so feel free to cruise through here but don't expend too much energy.
The first major turn will be a sharp left to stay on the western ridge trail. Most wrong turns here will lead you back onto this route but it can be a little disorienting out here so have a map or gps track.
Right around mile 1 you'll hit a T junction. A right turn will keep you on this track. A left here will take you around mud pond which is a nice trail and will only add half a mile or so.
Shortly after you'll hit a doubletrack carriage road at the top of a short climb. Turn left and go to the bottom of the hill where you'll see the next junction. Take a right here though the marshy area hugging a pond. This trail is often flooded so if getting wet is a problem you can take the other trail at the junction and go through the campgrounds but usually you can mostly avoid the water.
Following this trail you'll get a couple options to merge left onto a parallel trail and cross the bridge into what 99% of people know of as Moreau Lake State Park. There are water fountains and bathrooms here while the beach is open. Continue down the beach and around the buildings here and you'll find a trail that runs between the lake and the road.
The last section can get flooded so you may need to cut over to the road until you get to the boat launch and warming hut. Here take a right by the warming hut and you'll find the Red Oak Ridge Trail
with red markers near the outhouse (last chance).
Follow the red trail for about a mile of rolling climbs and you'll approach the staircase of death. This is a pretty brutal climb that reaches up to 40 percent grades while also being covered in jagged rocks and roots. As you finally come up to the top stay to the left and you'll be rewarded with a fantastic overlook of Moreau lake to catch your breath to.
From here you'll continue on staying to the left at each junction following the pink trail then the dark blue trail. The trails you pass here will all cut across to a later portion of the trail so you have a few bailout options here if you need to.
Coming up around 5.5 miles you'll hit the junction with the red and yellow trail, you'll want to stay right and continue on the dark blue trail
Continuing on you'll come up to a 4 way junction. Take a sharp right turn onto the white trail.
About 0.75 miles later you'll meet the T-junction with the yellow marked Western Ridge Trail
which you'll take a right and follow for the rest of the hike.
This section has many great viewpoints of the Hudson on the left side of the trail. There a lot of sometimes confusing twists and turns here so make sure you are paying attention. Be careful to avoid the orange trail which drops down to the Hudson on the left side. If you're feeling good this is a very fun downhill that will connect back to the route after a number of switchbacks at about 300 feet of climb.
Otherwise you know you've almost reached the finish when you pass the trail junction to the pink trail where the tempting stone benches set. Don't be temped though. It is essentially all downhill from here except for a small climb in the last quarter mile.
Red efts (newts) litter the entire park, to the point where it can be hard to avoid stepping on them at times. Deer are common, have also seen bald eagles, Fishers, and porcupines.