The Chester Challenge is comprised of 11 newly designated trails that vary from moderate climbs to level terrain. Hikers that visit at least six of the trails can receive a Chester Challenge pin and bragging rights. Although not nearly as rigorous as Adirondack hiking challenges such as the Saranac 6 or the Cranberry 50, the Almanack has learned that some hikers have made the effort more difficult by completing all the hikes in a single day.
Among the new trails are routes up three peaks around Loon Lake, just south of Schroon Lake. They offer a series of views that take in Crane, Gore, Moxham, Panther and Kipp Mountains, and to the north Schroon Lake, Hoffman Mountain and a view of the High Peaks.
Meade Mountain and Beckman Mountain Trail (2.1 miles) – features one of the best views of Gore Mountain available, Loon Lake, Schroon Lake, Hoffman Mountain and the High Peaks. This trail is currently closed for hunting season and will reopen in the spring.
Kipp Mountain Trail (1.9 miles) – winds through a tree farm to a cliff with views of Loon Lake. This trail is currently closed for hunting season and will reopen Kipp Mountain trail will reopen on December 14th.
Stewart Mountain (.6 miles) – a short hike to an overlook with views of Loon Lake, Gore and Crane Mountains and southeast toward Lake George.
Chester Creek Trails (1.2 to 1.9 miles) – an easy walk along Chester Creek behind the Chester Town Hall, this trail also connects with the snowmobile trail between the Conservation Club and Green Mansions Golf Course.
Dynamite Hill and Caroline M. Fish Memorial Trails (2.6 miles) – this is a trail network connecting Landon Hill Road with the town recreation center at Dynamite Hill; it also include cross-country ski trails and some single track mountain biking routes.
Palmer Pond Trail (1.5 miles) – the Palmer Pond Trail follows an old road to Palmer Pond and its associated spur trails, all located on NYS Forest Preserve land.
Cougar Nature Trails (.9 to 4.5 miles) – this trail system is centered on North Warren School near the hamlet of Chestertown and climbs Cougar Hill, east of Panther Mountain.
Catamount Mountain (1.8 to 6.4 miles) – this trail provides excellent views of the High Peaks. The trail is only accessible with a paid guide from Stone Bridge and Caves in summer; in winter it’s a self-guided snowshoe. An entrance fee, payable at Snow Bridge and Caves, is required. Call (518) 494- 2283 for hours and pricing.
The Chester Challenge trails were developed as part of a partnership between the town and the Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work & Play program of Glens Falls Hospital to promote physical activity and wellness in the community. The state-funded program commissioned a Healthy Community Mapping Project that helped identify new areas for public recreation in the town, and town officials worked with local landowners to obtain access to the trail properties.
Hikers who have completed the Chester Challenge can visit the Chester Town Hall or North Warren Chamber of Commerce in Chestertown to pick up a pin.
An informational brochure and map of the trails can be found here (pdf).
Photos by John Warren: Above, Loon Lake from Stewart Mountain, with Crane and Gore Mountains in the distance; and below, vignette of the view toward the High Peaks from Meade Mountain.