Testing the Tupper Lake Triad

We are still pursuing our 46er dream, but in the meantime, we did complete the Saranac Lake 6ers, so now was the time to complete the last entrant of the hiking challenges: the Tupper Lake Triad.Tupper-Lake-Triad-Patches

In 2015, a new hiking challenge, called the Tupper Lake Triad, was launched in the Tupper Lake Region of the Adirondacks. The three family-friendly mountains boast outstanding views of the surrounding mountains and lakes from their summits, reached via well-maintained and well-marked state Department of Environmental Conservation trails.

The three summits, Coney Mountain, Goodman Mountain and Mount Arab, are arrayed off of Route 30 not far from the Village of Tupper Lake. According to hike organizers, each mountain offered outstanding views of surrounding Adirondack peaks and Tupper waterways.

On Saturday, we decided to spend the day hiking those three, all at once.

Coney Mountain was our first target, and is a 2.2-mile hike round trip, with a 548-foot ascent to the suIMG_5305mmit at 2,280 feet. The trail for the majority was rocky and still quite new, so footing was a bit rough in areas. The trail goes around the steep western slopes of the mountain, and as it steepens a bit, it continues to contour its way around to the northern slopes of Coney Mountain. The final approach is over slab rock, but no scrambling is necessary. The views start to open up with Goodman Mountain to the north and Mount Morris to the northeast. The waters of Tupper Lake can be seen to the north as well and the wooded hills of the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest to the west. As far as views go, this is one of the best in the area, with the best bang for the buck.

Next was Goodman Mountain, named after the famous civil rights activist. Goodman Mountain is about 3.2 miles round-trip, ascending 581 feet to an elevation of 2,178 feet. And the first quarter-mile is wheelchair accessible. As with Coney, the trails goes around the northern slopes of the mountain and ends up on a rocky slab, this one facing Coney Mountain on the South.

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South Views from Goodman

Finally, we drove to our last destination, Mount Arab, in Piercefield. It has a restored fire tower and fireIMG_5314 observer’s cabin with a small museum inside. The round-trip hike is about 2.2 miles, ascending 764 feet to an elevation of 2,545 feet. The well-marked path is moderately steep for the bulk of the hike but there are short, steep sections. The trail follows the northern ridge of the mountain and keeps the steeper slopes off to the hiker’s right. From there the trail moderates nicely before topping out on the open summit. We climbed the fire tower for some outstanding views you can’t get from the summit itself.

 

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Mt Arab Lake from the Fire Tower

After successfully hiking all three peaks (for a total of about 8 miles), we registered on the official Triad Roster to receive our patch, and bragging rights, of course.

To know more about Tupper Lake and the Triad, click here and here, respectively.

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Owl’s Head: perfect afternoon relaxing hike

Last weekend, after a long day of mountain biking (more on that later), then golf, we decided to visit one of the most popular short hikes in the region: Owl’s Head. It is one of the well liked short hikes in the region due to its ease of access, outstanding views and family recreation opportunity.

This is a 0.6 mile hike, one way, over sometimes steep terrain. From the trailhead, we started hiking immediately on an uphill grade. The trail soon sweeps to the right to the first open view. But, as we continued our climb, the views kept arising, with Cascade close by. There is a short low gradient area about half way up before the final steep scramble over open rock to the summit, where mountain climbers were exercising.

Cobble Lookout: views, views… and views!

Following on our theme of easier and shorter hikes around Lake Placid, we elected to spend an hour on Cobble Lookout trail, two weekends ago.

Constructed in the fall of 2014, this new trail has become very popular because it is only one mile with little climbing to a spectacular view of the Ausable Valley and the surrounding mountains.  In the contest for “best view for the least effort”, this hike is at or near the top.

Although snow had not totally melted, snowshoeing was not needed and we didn’t use our spikes either. From the trailhead, an old road leads up gradually to an old quarry.  Past the quarry, the trail is flat for a few yards before turning up and left and climbing in stages.  Then, the trail is mostly flat or gently rolling to the ledge at 1.1 mi. from the trailhead.

IMG_1939IMG_1940Santa’ Workshop is directly below the ledge with Wilmington further below.  The great bulk of Whiteface and Esther are to the right with Giant Mt. and other high peaks straight ahead.
 

Another lesser-known Peak

End of Winter – early Spring, we like to kick-off our hiking program by picking easier hikes, or selecting less crowded trails. Last weekend, under beautiful skies and a shining sun, we decided to hike another 46er: Table Top.

Table Top Mountain has three summits with its southern peak as its highest at 4427 feet, making this mountain the 19th highest in the Adirondacks. It is likely one of the most massive but not well-known peaks because it has no marked trail that leads to the main summit, although there is now a new trail, created by the ADK 46ers.

We started from the Loj, then to the dam, then onto the Van Hoevenberg Trail, went past the Phelps trail junction, and up the Indian Falls trail, when, less than a mile after the Phelps junction, we found the newly created trail to Table Top.

Although it is a herd path, it is quite easy to follow.  The entire hike is actually relatively easy, with no extremely difficult sections. As we started to get near the summit plateau, it began to look like winter. There was a little snow and rime ice in the trees.  We wore micro spikes for traction.  No snowshoes or crampons were necessary.
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Algonquin, Boundary and Iroquois from Table Top

On the top, a large plateau greets you with perfect views of Algonquin and Colden north-west, a good view of Phelps and a great view of Marcy. We stayed there for a while, enjoying our lunch while staring at the mountains all around.

This is not as popular as other summit hikes but we still enjoyed it. It was one of the easier high peaks to climb since there were no sections of the trail that posed any great difficulty, a perfect choice to get back in shape.
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Marcy from Table Top

Re-visiting old history

Ten years ago, we started hiking the Adirondack mountains. As beginners, we started with mountains that were not part of the High Peaks. At the time, Hurricane Mountain seemed like a good choice. Well, I found the climb steep and very difficult. Needless to say, when we decided to go back at it this month, I was a little bit concerned.

Hurricane Mountain isn’t a high Peak at 3694 feet, but it’s still a really great and popular hike in the Adirondacks. It is one of the lowest bald peaks in the area with the tree line at about 3450 feet at the main trail junction. It also offers great views of most of the lower great range.  This peak offers a huge open summit with spectacular views. Also, on top of the mountain, you’ll see one of the few remaining fire towers, which was discontinued for use as a fire observation station in 1979.

By the time we got to the Route 9N trailhead outside of Keene, the air was feeling cool but the sky was totally blue. Knowing that we had a hefty 2,000 ft. to climb in just 2.6 miles, we set out on the trail with our spirits high. Our spirits were quickly humbled by the immediate vertical climb that welcomed us. After this initial altitude jump, we enjoyed a brief respite from the vertical climb, by way of a relatively easy stroll through flatlands that were filled with a large pond (caused by beaver dams).
IMG_0185It was all uphill from there. The trail went straight up the mountain again, utilizing various old riverbeds and other rocky-havens, looking like we climbed over 1,000 vertical feet in just under one mile. Finally, after roughly two-hours from parking, we set foot on the bald, rocky peak. Having climbed a fair share of peaks in the park by now, I can happily report that Hurricane is one of the best views I’ve experienced in the park, and definitely the best view from a peak that is not included in the 46 highest (Hurricane is #72). The 360-degree view includes both the High Peaks, Whiteface and Vermont (Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains). This, coupled with the abandoned and rusting firetower, make this a day-hike not to be missed.
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Hiking Mt Adams

Every time we plan for a hike, we rely on our High Peaks map… but it’s getting more and more difficult to find new 5-hour hikes. We have done them all, and more. So, I started looking for hikes a bit further away from Lake Placid. And I found a hidden gem in the Adirondacks! The 3520 foot Mount Adams features a fire tower with amazing views of the high peaks from the South looking North over Calamity Mountain.

In 2010, the fire tower was damaged by wind storms, and again in 2011, because of Hurricane Irene, including the top of the tower blowing off. After two years of major renovations from dedicated volunteers, the fire tower is again open.

Hudson River bridge

Hudson River bridge

This starts out as a flat, easy, but lovely hike. Just after a few minutes on the trail, you walk across the Hudson River on a newly rebuilt swinging iron suspension bridge that was destroyed by Hurricane Irene in 2011. The river is rushing under you as you look through the wide mesh crosswalk.

Once past the Hudson River, a level walk takes you to Lake Jimmy. The trail was rerouted in 2013 to veer around the lake, rather than the old crossing of the lake whose remnants still float on the lake. In less than a mile, right after the old cabin, you’ll find and climb the trail that leads to the Mount Adams fire tower.

Old Cabin (restored)

Old Cabin (restored)

Pretty quickly, it begins to climb in elevation, and turns into quite a fun challenge. Be ready for some scrambling and root-grabbing on the way up. In some areas, with each step forward, I came two steps backward. Elsewhere, getting down on my hands and knees was the only option. Also watch your footing on the way down, especially if it’s wet out. I had to do some careful sliding down on my butt at times!

It started to seem like the mountain did not want me to get to the top! After a good one to two hours of maneuvering up the trail, I finally reached the summit. But, the views at the top of the fire tower were breath-taking, and so worth the effort.

South East View

South East View

Algonquin, Colden, Marcy from Fire Tower

Algonquin, Colden, Marcy from Fire Tower

Going back to Indian Head

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Deers

A few weeks back, we made our first attempt to Indian Head, under snowy conditions. With snow up our waist, we had much difficulty to reach our destination. So, we decided to try again, and, on Saturday, we visited the incredible sights of Indian Head.

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Gothics Window

Indian Head is perched between the peaks of the Great Range and the Pinnacle Range and fully within the boundaries of the Adirondack Mountain reserve. The best way to enjoy the hike is to do a loop out of the available trails and open up the opportunity to see the numerous waterfalls of Gill Brook on the way out.

We started our long walk along Lake Road for more than 3 miles, and met a couple of deers, then went right along the Ausable River, before going around the mountain and starting our climb. On our way up there, we took a side trail right to “Gothics Window,” a perfectly framed “window” of Gothics.

Heading back onto the trail, we climbed an icy ladder and moved along multiple switchbacks. We broke through the trees and there before us was an incredible unobstructed view above the Lower Ausable Lake. The high peaks rise sharply around the Lake framing out a view like none other in the Adirondacks. We stayed for some time here taking photos and gazing at the morning lights. We could have stayed for hours in this place without growing bored. On our descent, we followed the Gill Brook Trail which gives a nice helping of waterfalls and cascades to please the eyes and ears.

This short day hike to Indian Head is definitely one that we will repeat many times over.IMG_2020

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Direction: Phelps Mountain

It’s been a while since we last hiked Phelps Mountain. But, as you know, there is a big difference between hiking and snowshoeing. So, yesterday, we embarked on a well-known path. How would it go?

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View from Phelps Mt: Marcy, Colden and Algonquin in the clouds

Phelps Mt. is named for Orson Schofield Phelps who cut the first trail up Mt Marcy. It is thus fitting that this peak whose view is so dominated by Mt. Marcy, is named after Phelps. It is probably the easiest high peak to climb from the Marcy dam area, and is good alternative for hikers who find themselves short of time.

At a distance of 4.4 miles from the Adirondack Loj, we spent approximately 5 hours for the round trip, under some flurries and even some sunshine. No wind, temperature around -15F, that translated to an almost perfect winter day, out in the mountains.

What a great day!

First snow

End of October, we went hiking McKenzie Mountain. We are on our way to become an official Saranac Lake Sixer. To do just that, you need to climb all 6 of the following mountains:

  • McKenzie Mt (Elevation 3822′)
  • Ampersand Mt (Elevation 3353′)
  • Scarface Mt (Elevation 3054′)
  • St Regis Mt (Elevation 2874′)
  • Haystack Mt (Elevation 2864′)
  • Baker Mt (Elevation 2452′)

Obviously, this is not anything to compare to the Adirondack 46ers, but I like the marketing idea of putting together another “mountain club”.462828_687340943179_411781325_o

We’ve already hiked Haystack and Ampersand, so McKenzie seemed to be the most logical next choice. It’s the highest peak of the 6ers, visible from many locations in Saranac Lake, and easily recognizable due to its 2-peak shape.

The hike is pretty easy at the start, under the forest, and becomes very steep at the very end (the last 45mn can be difficult, especially with 3 inches of snow making the last climb quite slippery). Views from the top are widespread, from Whiteface Mountain to the north to Mount Marcy to the south. A ledge to the west of the trail offers views of the village of Saranac Lake while another one on the east does the same for the village of Lake Placid.

It was an enjoyable experience, on a less traveled path.

A great hike (also for Kids)

After a few days of intense physical activity, we picked an easier hike to finish the Holiday weekend. We had hiked Noonmark last winter, and remembered the hike to be sometimes steep, but short enough not to be too challenging for kids.

Noonmark Mountain is a 3,556-foot mountain near St. Huberts in the High Peaks. This prominent peak provides 360-degree views, including the Great Range, the Dix Range, Giant Mountain, the Ausable River valley, and the village of Keene.

IMG_2468Soon enough we were making our way over the 2.1 miles to the summit. As with most short hikes to the top of any mountain, the hiking was steep and sustained at times. But there were several ledges along the way that provided nice resting, and photo, opportunities. It was a great day, with little to no wind, warm enough, so we spent time relaxing on the summit. It was only the thought of beer and a great dinner that motivated us to start the hike down.

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