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Round Mountain

I had started this hike a bit late about 10 AM. I initially was going to do an out and back from the parking lot area in St. Huberts. This would eventually change and I decided to hike it clockwise. Shortly after signing in, the trail immediately starts the climb up eventually easing to a gradual climb through a mix of hard and soft woods. I kept seeing fresh deer tracks along the way, obviously pushing the deer as I gradually made my way up to a point around 2600 feet where she finally revealed herself. She was about 30 yards away, and I tried to make a video of her, but it turned out very grainy.   The climbing gets steeper at this point and along the way you start to see nice views of Giant mountain becoming more and more prominent. At one point I  came out of the woods to an open ledge that was like an amphitheater seating to the Giant of the valley. From this point the trail led back into the woods which was made up of pine and cedar trees. This area was moderately steep, but easy climbing with a good base below my feet.  There were areas with ice below the snow, but the ever changing temperatures before made for some nice traction. I had put on my snowshoes just after signing in, for no other reason than to take advantage of the televators, micro-spikes would have worked fine in lower elevations, but at around 2600 feet snowshoes were needed  with 4-6 inches of powder. As I continues up I ran into a head-wall at about 2800 feet, which has some really cool looking ice-flow coming off of it. My pictures really did not do it justice. In another 100 feet of elevation I thought I had reached the partially open summit, only to realize I had a bit more hiking to do. With a quick down and up in elevation I was finally at the summit and the spectacular views of the Lower Great range, Dix and Hough mountains, along with Giant, and Noonmark mountain.   After about a half hour on the summit I dropped down to the Dix trail making my way back to the dirt road that leads to the Ausable Inn road, eventually signing out at the Round Mountain register.   I did not see  another soul all day which was quite surprising. I had expected at the least to meet traffic coming up to Round from the Dix trail. I guess it is true, Round mountain sees very little traffic.   I did this hike clockwise from St Hubert's parking area.   Two areas of blow-down. Elevation: 3100 ft
Ascent: 1820 ft
Distance: 4.9 miles  



Silver Lake Mountain

This is a nice little hike at .9 miles to the summit. Deciding later in the day to hike this turned out to be a good option. The trail surprisingly was well drained and somewhat dry, given the recent rains we have had. It seems like there has been some trail work done, at least it seemed that way compared to my last visit several years ago to this mountain. The trailhead is on the left about a half mile south of the Douglas Campground on the Silver Lake road. It is a small trail head and not much room for parking. I arrived around 230pm and there were 4 cars in the lot, room for one more (me), and that is about it. With the way the shoulders are on the main road (Silver Lake Road), not very practical to park on the side of the road. Its a short walk to the trail head register, from there it begins a gradual uphill for about a half mile before it gets a little steeper for the last .4 miles to the summit. The trail is made up of rocks (mostly buried under freshly fallen leaves),  roots (wet and slippery), and areas of ledge and bedrock which provides nice traction. There are several lookouts to take advantage of as you climb. I was surprised with the amount of people out this late in the day, and on a Sunday at that. We (the dogs and I) would have company all day. Glad to finally get back out on the trails.



Deer Pond Loop

Dingo and I took a walk in the Deer Pond Loop Trail located outside Tupper Lake, NY. There are three points to access the trail (off route 3, route 30, and the old Wawbeek road). We (Dingo and I) started from the route 30 entrance around 8:30. We did the hike in a clockwise direction, for no particular reason. Knowing what I know now I would do it the same way next time. It was relatively flat easy-going for the first 3 to 4 miles, or until we turned off of the old Wawbeek road onto a fairly new looking trail. The only obstacle we ran into was water over the road due to a beaver dam. This was easily enough averted by throwing down a few fallen logs to use as steps. Once we turned off of the old road we begin to climb what was mostly rolling hills through very thick balsam and pine.  The trail was somewhat dry through this area. There were a few bridges and Board walks that helped get us through some wet areas till we got to the first marsh or pond (not sure of the name), which is on the left before Deer pond. Once we got past that body of water it was a gradual uphill until we reached Deer pond/Lead pond junction once there we took a break for lunch.  From this point it was more rolling hills and we worked our way back down to the height of land where it was walking through a bog, made up of mostly soft woods and a lot of peat moss, absolutely beautiful. There were various species of trees (cedar, balsam, pine) which I enjoyed as I meandered my way back to where we originally came in from. Once at the junction I turned left and headed back over the bridge taking the trail back out to the truck. It was a nice 7.9 mile hike that could easily be snowshoed or cross country skied (for the experienced skier for the section from Wawbeek road to the junction with Lead pond). The entire loop is labeled for skiing, however. I certainly enjoyed the loop and found it absolutely beautiful. I was very surprised that we had never seen any wildlife. We did seem to flush a few Ruffed Grouse along the way, and on our way back to camp seen a red fox terrorizing a group of turkeys. I look forward to returning and exploring the trail out to lead pond. 



Debar Mountain

While camping at Meacham Lake State campground, my pup Dingo and I, hiked Debar Mountain. We had started from the trail-head at 9:30 AM. Soon after signing in  we were off. The trail starts out very easy walking, following along what must have been a jeep trail at one time, and now appears to be a snowmobile trail in the winter. It is very easy walking well past the junction to go left to Debar mountain, or going right towards Debar Meadows and onto County Route 26. From here there basically is not much climbing for awhile, then it becomes gradually uphill eventually arriving at the Leanto. The trail was wet in sections up till now, but nothing that cannot be managed by rock hopping through. From the Leanto the trail gets steeper and wetter as you are climbing up through drainage at times. Just past the leanto are the remnants of the foundation on your left, not sure if it was a Rangers cabin or some other building. One could easily miss it if not paying attention. From there the real climbing begins and the trail gets steeper, to the point you gain several hundred feet in a short distance. It is a short distance but the mountain makes you work for the summit. We arrived at the summit about 1230 and enjoyed a nice break. We didn't have much for views but still enjoyed the hike. We had our lunch, took some pictures, and noticed several anchor bolts at the summit that’s reported to have been a transmitter site and/or a fire tower. There was an old  surveyor mark or pin. I'm sure there is a lot of history on this mountain, and I had found some here. The return trip down to the Leanto was uneventful. Much care was given to the footing as it had been a wet day, and slippery. The slide that we came to probably halfway from the Leanto gives an idea of the steepness of the trail. I would think this section could be a challenge in the winter. We arrived back at the Leanto at 1:40 took a short break, verified the outhouse worked. The rest of the hike back to the trail-head was uneventful arriving at 3 PM. 



Sawyer Mountain

A great little hike for a beginner, young family, or for me that hasn't been out hiking since December. The hike is only about 1.1 miles to the summit. It took me longer to drive to the trail head than it did to hike the round trip of 2.2 miles. I arrived at the trail head around 8:30am. I would have the trail to myself for the hike. One of the benefits of hiking in the middle of the week. There wasn't anyone at Blue Mountain trail head either when I passed by. I grabbed my pack, let the pups out, signed in, and we were off. The trail is an easy climb, one of the easiest summits in the Adirondacks, and fairly dry. There were a couple areas that were muddy, but easy enough to rock hop through. It was a mix of hardwoods and sparse fir trees the entire way. It must be a cool hike in the summer with the canopy of leaves overhead. I was thinking this mountain can be pretty busy with hikers in the summer months based on its proximity to nearby campgrounds and vacation rentals. That and the small parking area at the trail head could pose a problem with parking. As I progressed up the trail I found towards the top ridge there are partial views from ledges on the left near the summit. A short whack over to a small lookout provided some views. Back to the trail and past the wooded summit was the described rock ledge with a nice overlook that provided some decent views, and a swarm of hungry black flies. The trail head is located between Indian Lake and Blue Mountain Lake on the west side of Route 28, the parking is well marked. It is a short distance south of Lake Durant campground. I did a brief search on the history of Sawyer mountain and had trouble finding much on it, other than what appears is that it is part of a recreational easement with New York State. On my way back home I took a spin into the Lake Durant Campground. I grabbed a map and drove around checking out the campsites. This is a nice campground that has several nice sites, many of which are on the lake itself.



Owls Head Mountain

I arrived at the trail head around 8:50am. There was a local hunter that had just arrived and he was packing up to spend 14 days in camp (lucky guy). We struck up a conversation which led to the three dogs I had in tow. He had asked if they were Australian Cattle Dogs, and I affirmed and advised him they were rescues. He too has some dogs he rescued as well, a couple border collies.

I was soon on my way up the trail climbing right after the small foot bridge. The trail is easy enough to follow, and is a mix of open hardwoods almost the entire way to the summit, minus a few areas of pine/cedar/tamaracks. The trail is an easy grade well past the intersection with the trail that continues to Lake Eaton, which is about a mile in. From here the trail goes left and climbs moderately with a mix of packed trail to rocky and wet (typical adk trail). There were several areas of blowdown from the previous two days of heavy wind, all of which were easily negotiated.

The trail climbed steadily making up in elevation, but wasn’t overly long, maybe about a mile of climbing up to the col between the two smaller peaks of Owl's Head. From here one could be discouraged thinking that you are almost to the tower, when in fact you drop down to a landing, that at one point was where the observer’s cabin was located. The foundation pilings are still there, and a pail (I almost thought it was a thunder jug). From here the final push to the summit is a short steep section which eventually eases and turns into a small ridge walk to the tower.

From the summit, I could see Long Lake below to the left, and Blue Mountain in the background straight ahead. Once up in the tower there is a 360 degree view of the mountains, a bit overcast today so the views weren’t as good as they would be on a clear day. Blue Mountain was shrouded in the clouds.

I didn't realize until I read the pamphlet from the trail head register is that the mountain, along with the two lesser peaks that make up the ears of the "owls head", a great horned owl's head to be exact.

I was back at the trail head at 1pm.

Elevation - 2815'
Distance round trip -6.3 miles
Total time round trip 4.hrs 14min
My average speed was 1.5mph



Big Crow and Little Crow Mtns

I had previously hiked Nun-da-ga-o Ridge and Weston Mountains in a counterclockwise direction, a few years ago. During that trip, I had hoped to hike the Crows as well, but I was running late with time. So a trip back was in order, and I had a beautiful day to hike as well. On my previous trip I had brought my dog Dingo, so he accompanied me today too.

We arrived at the trail-head at the end of the O'Toole Rd at Crow Clearing at 08:50 and were soon on the trail.

Overall this is a short hike out and back. I logged about .8 miles from the parking area to the summit of Big Crow. Some areas of the trail are steep, but short-lived sections. The summit of Big Crow is at 2,815 feet. There were many views along the way to the summit. The summit itself has some wonderful views of the Adirondacks high peaks, Pitchoff mountains, and many others. The trail continues, dropping down to Little Crow and ultimately to Hurricane Road. I opted to return from Little Crow by going back to the Crow Clearing via Big Crow.

On the trip back I enjoyed the summit of Big Crow to myself for almost an hour.

Start time 08:56
Finished time 11:54
Total distance 2.3 miles round trip
2.58.37 elapsed time
0.8 average speed



Snow Mountain

What a beautiful day for a hike, blue sky and perfect temperatures. This whole weekend has been fantastic weather.

I had heard about this hike from Scott (Winterwarlock) on more than one occasion. He mentioned it offered some wonderful views, and was a really nice short hike. So today I set out to hike Snow mountain, and see for myself what he described. He didn't disappoint.

As I said previously, it was a picture perfect day to spend in the woods. The temperatures were cooler, down from the previous 2 weeks where we were in the upper 80's for several days. This morning temps were 38 degrees, and when I finished it was 62. Mother nature has turned the page, and now the temps are more seasonal.

When I arrived at the trail-head on Route 73, just south of the Noonmark Diner, I was met with an almost full parking lot. This surprised me as I half expected to not see it this full, on a Sunday. Although, I also noticed the parking areas for Hurricane Mt and Baxter Mt were also full. I guess everyone was taking advantage of the weather.

This would be my first hike this season with my winter pack, I was curious how I would do. I left the car at 9am and signed in. Based on those who signed in before me, nobody was heading to Snow. Rooster Comb and the Great Range were a many's destination, what a pleasant surprise! The trail follows along what used to be a small body of water near the high school. Presently it is almost dried up. Not sure if it has been drained for a reason, or if it has really been that dry. Just beyond the pond the trail crosses over a footbridge and then begins the uphill climb navigating through switchbacks up to the first junction at around .7 miles, at which then branches on to Snow Mt to the left, or continue straight to Roostercomb and beyond to the Great Range.

The trail was pretty dry and easy to follow, any brooks I did cross over were either dried up, or low. The hike was pretty easy, gradual incline, with a few short sections that were steeper.
The next trail junctions at 1.1 miles with a spur trail back to Rooster Comb, or turns left towards Snow mountain and Saint Huberts. The Flume brook was low, but provided a great spot for the pups to get a drink. From here it was a short .3 to the junction that takes you to Snow mountain to the left, or continue on to Saint Huberts. From this point the remaining .5 miles to the summit of Snow mountain navigating through a short rock scramble just below the summit. Once above the scramble its partial-open and fairly flat with views in almost every direction. I arrived at the summit around 11am, and had the summit to myself for about 30 minutes.

Start time was 9am
Distance: 2.4 mi. to summit
4.8 miles round trip
Average speed was 1.2 miles
Arrived back at the car 1:05pm



Bolar Fire tower

Pipestem Tower located in Pipestem State Park, West Virginia was renamed “Bolar Lookout Tower” a dedication in honor of the sixth superintendent of the park, Steve Bolar

Steve was a leader in the state parks system with a genuine understanding of park operations and public service. He was a mentor to many park employees during his career.

Bolar lost his battle with a terminal illness in July 2009.

The observation tower sits at 3,000 feet in elevation and commands a scenic view of the Pipestem area. Located near the park entrance the tower is accessible via the Knob Trail which is .4 miles round trip, a nice easy to moderate hike.



Mt Arab Mountain

This is a very nice family oriented hike if you're in the Tupper Lake area. This mountain along with Mt. Coney and Goodman Mt. make up the Tupper Lake Triad, it's also one for the New York State Fire Tower challenge.

I hadn't really hiked all summer, except for Little Haystack Mt in Buck Pond campground. I wanted something on the easy side to get me back into the groove, but also to see how Misty would do. She did great as expected.

This a short hike at 1 mile to the summit, over a very gradual incline. When I arrived to the trail head it was about 10am. The parking lot was full. I suspect this is a very popular hike since it is so close to Tupper Lake, and easy climbing to the summit.

As I said, the trail is well marked, and taken care of. There has been a lot of drainage work done and that has especially helped with the trail conditions.
I was surprised at the amount of work done to the trail, and maintenance done, all from the work of the group "Friends of Mt. Arab".

Misty and Dingo agreed, they too enjoyed the hike.

There was a care taker, or summit steward at the cabin. It was obvious he had alot of educational material on the Summit, the restoration project, and the organization that takes care of it. I recommend a visit.



Rattlesnake Mountain

This trail head is elusive as it is not marked with a sign, nor is there a register to sign in at. Living so close to this trail I had taken time earlier in the year to scout out where exactly the trail head was. I prefer to know where I am going on the day of a hike, than have to take the time looking around for it (wasting time) that morning.

I did find some information on the hike online at lakechamplainregion.com. This was helpful and was a good starting point for locating the parking area, as it is directly across the street from 4525 Route 22, which is just north of Willsboro, and south of the Highlands Rd.

This is a pretty neat hike following an old jeep trail, up to a certain point. From the point it veers off the jeep trail, the trail itself from this point is craggy as you climb up along to the mostly open ridge. I found the trail easy enough to follow as it is not a marked trail. The hike is all gradual with a brief section that gets moderately steep for a short period.

Brought all 3 dogs today, and they had no issues.

We started at 7:28am from the parking lot taking our time to let the dogs run and play, we averaged around 1.5 mph. Arrived at the summit at 8:23am for a brief visit as the black flies were out in force. After a quick visit and photo opportunity we returned to the truck at 9:16.

Our total trip was an hour and 48 minutes,  



Flat Rock State Forest, Altona NY

Took a nice little walk about in this area with Snickers and Bushwacker. I had never been to the area, even though it is almost in my back yard. I knew of the area through work, just based on the resources I had sent into it for fires and lost hikers, but never myself hiked in.

I was surpresed at the size of the structures that are built in there. The "Million Dollar Dam", and the Skeleton Dam are huge projects that were built about a 100 years ago. There certainly is a lot of history in the Miner Project, and look forward to going back and doing some more exploring.

It is very easy hiking, all gradual incline. The trails are shared with ATV and snowmobiles, however we did not see another soul the entire day. We had a nice hike in, sat around Chasm Lake and had lunch. Next time we'll scope out the fire tower.  



Jay Mountain

I had wanted to hike this for quite some time. In fact, I had tried a few years ago in the winter, with no success. Today was forecasted to be a nice day early on, then overcast with rain later. I was able to get the hike in before the rain, without any problem.

I was hoping to get some company on this hike, and I had reached out to a couple local friends but they were scheduled to be out of town. I had then resigned myself to a solo hike, not a big deal as I generally solo anyway. Well, I didn't expect one of my buddies from Washington D.C. to be up in the area, so when I found out, I asked if he was interested. We made tentative plans on Thursday night, to hike Saturday morning. We both agreed on a start time of 7 a.m. and I would pick him up.

Friday night he texted me that he would meet me at the trailhead instead as something came up. He would hike up behind me, catch up on the trail and hike back out together.

I had resigned myself that I would be hiking alone and prepared accordingly.

I got to the parking area around 8 am. The parking lot was empty, how lucky could I be to have this trail to myself? I did have two of my dogs with me, Dingo and Misty, so technically I wasn't alone. I no sooner got out of my truck and started getting ready, when a small car with Quebec plates pulled up. It wasn't anyone I knew but was three young ladies who were also going to hike Jay mountain. It didn't take them long to pass me on the trail. Oh to be young again.

I left the truck and signed in the register and on the trail at 8:12 am. For the most part, the trail was in pretty good shape for spring like conditions. There were minimal areas that had water covering the trail, but nothing that couldn't be managed by stepping around. In fact, the trail was mostly dry, with a few areas of mud, and some sections had ice (the ice that was present was on the upper sections on the ridge) but it too was manageable.

It was a bluebird day for most of the day. The clouds really didn't start coming into play until later in the day, say 1-2 o'clock.

I made it as far as the second to last outcropping at which point I decided to turn around. I was running low on water, and today was a day you really needed to have it. It was a breezy day, temps in the upper 60-lower 70's. I was very pleased with what I accomplished.

On my way back I ran into a couple of small groups heading up. There were a couple guys from Toronto that took a fancy to my dogs, asking questions on the breed, etc. They mentioned there was a couple back on Jay mountain that was waiting for me. They described them, and I was happy to hear that Justin did make it, and brought his lovely girlfriend too. I soon was on my way and came upon them laying on the rocks enjoying the day. We had a nice visit while I re-hydrated and they snacked. Soon we continued on our way back to the parking area. Justin was a sport too, as he lightened my load for me.

We laughed and talked about past hikes, and soon found ourselves at the trail register.

We were back at the parking area at 2:04 pm

A beautiful warm day in the Adirondacks.

My GPS logged 7 miles, my average speed was 1 mph, total elapsed time of 7h01min.  



Lyon Mountain

Took a hike up Lyon Mt today with great company, and earn the hike towards the winter Adirondack fire tower challenge. My son had mentioned he'd like to hike this gem at some point, and I needed no further excuse to take the time and oblige him.

The forecast wasn't to be a bluebird day, but it also wasn't going to be brutally cold, or to warm either. The previous warm weather we had created a lot of snow melt. That along with some who hiked during that time without snowshoes did a fair amount of damage to the trail.

We were able to drive all the way up to the trail-head without any problem, it did require 4 wheel drive though. The road was in good shape with about 6 inches of new snow, and there was no blow down so it made for a good passage.

When we arrived at the trail-head there was about 4-6 inches that had fallen over night. That accumulation increased to about 8 inches on the summit. The light fluffy unconsolidated snow covered the snow spine of the trail, and the post holes. Going up was a lot better than going down. We wore snowshoes the entire way. With the continued cold tempts this weekend hopefully others will do the same.

We took the new trail up which made for a nice 6-7 mile round trip hike.

Only Dingo came with us today as Hattie and Misty are both on the side line as they recover from knee surgery in August, and more recently the other has a lacerated paw pad. So today was a boys day out.

We started at 9:05am took our sweet time reaching the summit at 12:45. We were back at the truck at 3:05pm.  



Loon Lake Mountain

Loon Lake mountain is reported not to see a lot of foot traffic, and therefor seldom mentioned. I think this has changed this year, as I have seen a lot of trip reports recently on this hike, and it is a beauty of a hike too.

The information at http://www.cnyhiking.com states the hike is just under 6 miles round trip. The entire hike is an easy grade, except for the last mile which is where you gain alot of the 1651 feet of elevation in the hike. The trail climbs a total of 1200 feet in that last mile. It may be daunting for some, but it makes for some great butt sliding on the way down in the winter.

The trail was easy enough to follow, one needs to just pay attention at the various intersections along the way. As I said earlier its a gradual elevation gain until you cross over the last foot bridge. Along the way we seen either old deer rubs or moose. It was also kind of neat to still see the old telco poles that I assume brought either phone or the ability for telematic communication to the tower.

As of today the trail is packed out nicely with the traffic it has seen, and hikers wearing their snowshoes. We wore snowshoes the entire way.

We started at 9am and took our time arriving at the summit just before noon. The trip out is always faster, especially when you can butt slide down. We were back at the truck just before 2pm.  



Spruce Mountain

Well, I figured since I couldn't make the meet up hike on January 16th with a group from ADK Fire Tower page, and I really didn't want to get out of a nice warm bed on the 15th, today was the day to do something.

I have been working some odd shifts at work this week and it has allowed me time off during the week to hike with my son, who was also off today as well, so it was a win-win situation.

The trail-head to Spruce Mt. was easy enough to get to. Its about a 2.5 hour ride from Plattsburgh. The forecast was for overcast to partly cloudy today, with little to no breeze. The temps were expected to be around 40 degrees, which is crazy for January weather.

The trail was a hard pack all the way to the top. We gave the snowshoes a free ride and wore micro-spikes the entire way with no issues, I suspect that will change as this week is going to be unusually warm for this time of year.

The trail was easy to follow, and was an easy incline the entire way. We left the truck at 10:30 and took our time, arriving at noon.

A quick 30 minutes and we were back at the truck.  



Point Au Roche State Park

I was feeling lazy today. My initial plans were to hike Spruce Mt. with some friends, but just didn't want to get out of bed this morning. So I texted them to see if they too would rather hike Rattlesnake Mt. in Willsboro. They were feeling lazy also, so we hemmed an hawed on a few different hikes. Long story short it was just me and the pups, and we headed out to Point Au Roche State Park.

This is a very popular area all year long. I was surprised to have only run into two other people on the trail. This was nice because it allowed me to run the dogs off leash, and when I seen another person recalled them until the other hiker passed by.

All three pups came with me today, which is good as typically Hattie feels left out when we hike a mountain. Hattie is nursing knee surgery from last summer, and I'm taking it easy with her.

We went out on the point taking the orange trail, following the rim all the around.




Poko Moonshine Mountain

I had actually planned to hike Bald Mountain today, but a lack of sleep and a late rise left me with fewer options. I had given thought of doing absolutely nothing today, as it was about 10:30 before I even got dressed.

Poke-O-Moonshine is a nearby hike for me, about 20 miles south of Plattsburgh. I have hike this mountain many times from the original trail off the former campground. While that is a direct route, it is a somewhat steep climb right off the start. In 2008 DEC created a new trail to the summit, which is not as steep but is a longer hike at 2.4 mile one way. I opted for this route as I had not climbed Poko in that direction. It is a pleasant hike with gradual terrain. Most of this route is an old jeep trail, so that in and of itself should tell you that it is not overly steep.

I had Dingo and Misty with me today on this hike. We arrived at the trail-head without another vehicle in site. I was excited about this because I like to allow the dogs to run free as long as we are alone. We would not see another hiker until just above the former cabin foundation. There was a very pleasant couple that had hiked up the original trail, and were on there way back down.

From the trail-head to the summit it took me about an hour and a half. I, as always take my time going up, enjoying the hike and taking many pictures along the way. This new route offered a variety of views from bogs to open ledges that provided a nice panoramic view. I bet this route would be a blast to snowshoe in the winter.




Black Mountain

This was a really neat hike. As with most hikes there is always something neat that is discovered on the adventure, to me it was the awesome views. I had traveled from Plattsburgh south, down to this hike. While its easy to get to, it is on the east side of Lake George which takes a little bit of navigating to get to. I'm sure there was a better way to get to it, but I took the north-way south to exit 28, then Route 74 to Route 22 south to the junction of Washington county Route 6. If I remember correctly there was a sign at that intersection stating to turn there for Black Mountain, then again about 5 miles further at the intersection with Pike Brook road. The trail head was a mile from Route 6 on the left.

When I arrived at the trail-head there was only one other vehicle in the lot. As I was getting ready, another car pulled in, a young couple with a dog. They signed in and quickly were off and hiking, that would be the only time I would see them.

I signed in at the register, threw on my pack, grabbed the dogs, and we too were on our way. We had the trail and mountains to ourselves today. I would not see another person until we got down off the mountain near the first junction.

The trail was made up of snow and ice, from less than 1 inch at the start, to 4-5 inches at most up top. There was no need for snowshoes, however micro-spikes proved to be beneficial as it allowed me to move freely without worrying about slipping. I find this very helpful on the decent.

The entire trail was gradual in elevation gain, nothing to steep. I can't help but think this would be an awesome mountain to snowshoe. From what I could gather the summit is just over 2600 feet, with an elevation gain of about 1200 feet, and that is spread out over 2.5 miles. This was a beautiful 5 mile round trip hike. If I had more time I would have done the loop, maybe I'll snowshoe that next time.  



Belfry Mountain

This is a quick and easy hike, just what I was looking for today as I had a lot of other things to get done, but still wanted to get out and hike. This literally took all of 15-20 minutes to summit from the road. Not to mention that today, was a bluebird day that really made this hike rewarding as it was quick, and offered fantastic views of the high peaks and green mountains of Vermont.

According to topo maps this is only a little over 1750 feet, however as mentioned earlier, the views are spectacular. The trail is nothing more than a dirt/gravel road that goes up to radio towers that are on the mountain. A short, less than half mile walk along the road with an overall elevation gain of 137 feet, very gradual.

This is a nice walk for a family. Parking for this hike is on the side of the road (Dalton Hill Road)(County Route 70). The trail-head, is a small DEC sign near a metal gate on the west side of the road, just as you crest the hill. There is no sign-in register.

I even got to try out a new photo opportunity with the summit surveyor pin (stole the idea from someone) .



Hadley Mountain

This one is off the beaten path, but pretty easy to get to. The Tower Road is the only dirt road I navigated, and was in really good shape and is said to be plowed in the winter.

Hadley mountain is a 2.6 mile round trip hike that starts to climb almost immediately after signing in at the trail-head. It is a gradual climb the entire way, with a few pleasant ridge walks along the way. The summit of Hadley is 2653 feet (according to topo), of which you will actually climb 1500 feet, give or take.

The description of the hike talks about a history of forest fires in the early part of the twentieth century which has impacted the mountain. While I never seen anything that resembles damage by fires, it is certainly present as it also described that the bare rock, or open ledge is a result of the fires and how it has also thinned the soil. There was a lot of bare open rock, which actually made for easy climbing.

The trail is wide and you can tell this is a very popular hike. I suspect the parking lot overflows on weekends. I arrived this morning at 10am and found two other vehicles there, although I would never see anyone else on the mountain today. After signing in at the register I quickly begin to start the climb. Its a nice hike which takes you up to a ridge of the West mountain range which you follow over to the true summit. I love ridge walks, they usually provide some nice views, and the trail is usually gradual, which this one was right up to the summit.

Just before the final push to the tower, on the right is a trail that leads to the old fire observer's cabin that is used by summit stewards. I also noticed a real cool cave just before the cabin on the left. Not exactly sure what it was used for, but appeared to have had a door on it at one time. Maybe a root cellar for storing food?

The fire tower is usually open, but was closed today. I was able to climb up to the scuttle hole and received some great views.

I started out from the car at 10:15am and arrived at the summit for 12 noon. Enjoyed the entire hike, had it all to myself. Left the summit at 1230 and arrived back at the car for 130pm. I took my sweet time going up, took many pictures.

Didn't see a single person until I got back to the trail-head where I ran into two guys heading up.



Cathedral Rock

This fire tower sits on the summit of Cathedral Rock, located on the campus of New York State Ranger School at Wanakena, about 8 miles west of Cranberry Lake, NY.

This tower was originally erected on Tooley Pond mountain in Clare NY, which is north-northwest of Cranberry Lake.

For those looking for a easy hike, this would be the one. Even for a young family and their Nana.

From the parking area near the ball fields you pass through a gate on a dirt road. There was no sign-in booth, or anything that discerns the starting point of the trail. Once you pass through the gate it is a short walk to the start of the Latham trail, which is marked with a sign on your right. From there you will follow the disks with a number 10 over an easy grade, passing over a few foot bridges and other gravel roads. It is an easy walk up to the point you reach the base of Cathedral Rock. From here you will climb the 200 feet of elevation that switch backs up to the ridge, a very easy incline all the way to the tower.

There are a few plaques along the way to the summit that memorialize the trail and workers, one at the small pavilion just below the summit reminded us of how fragile life can be. It memorializes a 10 year old boy who had lost his life on the mountain.

Nathan Louis Peck, a fifth-grader at Bryant Elementary school, died while on a hiking trip with his family. He was hiking when he slipped off a rock ledge and fell 60 feet to the ground. He had died at the scene.

Christine Peck described her son as an "avid learner" with a vivid imagination and passion for life. Dinosaurs, soccer and "Star Wars" were among her son's favorite subjects.

"He was enthusiastic about all his activities. ... He was excited about sharing those passions with you at any and all times," she said.

It reminded me of a co-worker that had told me of a David Eagleman's quote;

"There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time."

We talked about you today, Nathan.😊



Blue Mountain

This is a post election day hike. My son and I planned this day off well, unlike the results of the presidential election. We knew that we had to get out into the woods and just get away from the buzz of the election results. Blue Mountain, in Blue Mountain Lake, NY was a great choice.

The forecast was for misty rain in the morning and then clear up in the afternoon to be a mostly cloudy day. The weatherman was partially right, it was a misty day. The radar showed the rain from overnight was on its way out, so in theory we would have an overcast day.

We signed in to the trail register at 9:13am with a slight drizzle of rain. We weren't worried as we were dressed for the wet weather. On this trip we had a few new pieces of gear to try out. One was a Go Pro camera that I had won by raffle last year, and finally got around to trying it out. The other new piece of equipment was a new pair of hiking boots. It was a good day to try out both.

I was surprised at this trail, a lot of rocks and roots, with several boardwalks then finally slabs towards the top. It was a 4 mile round trip hike, with a fair amount of vertical elevation gain, at 1523 feet. It was fairly steep towards the top as well, which would be interesting in the winter with the snow and ice. There was no snow or ice for us today as the temps were in the high 30's to low 40's. Quite a bit of running water right down the middle of the trail. I suspect a fair amount of flow ice in the winter.

Towards the top after the slab climb it evens out a bit and becomes basically a ridge walk to the summit, probably about 2/10th of a mile until you reach the tower. We arrived at the summit at 11:22am.

With today's weather there would be no views, other than the clouds zipping by. The entire summit was in the clouds. We would not see open sky until we were on our way home.

It was still nice to be out in the woods, we had the mountain to ourselves with no other hikers.

We were back at the car by 1:02pm.



Azure Mountain

This was a lazy day today. After sleeping in until 7:30 this morning I had to change my plans. I knew I wanted to get out and hike something, so this little gem popped up on my radar.

I have been nonchalantly hiking the Adirondack fire towers, something that isn't really intended to achieve, but appears to be moving in that direction. My intent is to get my endurance back up and, with my son finish the 46 high peaks this winter. We have 9 left to do, so getting in shape is top priority.

Azure mountain in is Franklin county, NY. It is off the beaten path, and I took the scenic route to its trail-head. I was coming from Plattsburgh so I took a short cut via County Route 30 past Buck Pond campground, then Keese Mills road out of Paul Smiths heading northwest, and then met up with Blue Mountain road heading north towards St Regis Falls, the trail-head was on the left. This route took me through some very beautiful country.

The hike itself is a short 1 mile hike to the summit, however it is a steady uphill hike gaining just under 1000' in the short mile to its summit. There were many views along the way. I met several young families coming down as I was going up.



Vanderwhacker Mountain

I found this to be a very nice hike. It was nothing that I had expected, I compared that to what I had read anyways. Its like reading a book, forming your own vision in your mind, then watching the movie in a theater, based on some others imagination.

The trail is a soft gradual hike, from trail head to the summit it is a 2.5 mile trip, 5 miles round trip. The climb is so gradual that you do not realize the climb is just under 1700" of elevation gain. The mountain itself is at 3386' of elevation. There isn't a lot of climbing until you reach the cabin, from there to the summit, just under 1.5 miles is where you gain your elevation.

The trail crisscrosses a few waterways, which are either covered with a foot bridge, or rock hop-able. Just before the ridge there is a nice switchback that helps easy the climb as well. Which I will assume is fairly new as it is not defined on the maps I have seen. There were a few other areas where the trail has been re-routed.

I left the trail-head at 8:30 and arrived at the summit around 1030, we took out time. The dogs did very well, and this is a dog friendly climb.

The dirt road into the trail-head is in fairly good shape, with a few pot holes. I had brought my truck because I had read that it was a rough road, and a car may have trouble (with clearance) getting into the trail-head. I didn't see where there would be any issues, so long as someone takes their time and watches where they go.

A real gem.



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