Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Books: Best Easy Day Hikes

Saranac Lake native Lisa Densmore has just published her second Adirondack guidebook within the past year: Best Easy Day Hikes: Adirondacks, a selection of twenty-two hikes, most of them under four miles.

Densmore chose the hikes from her longer book, Adirondack Hiking, reviewed here . The descriptions have been condensed and the photos dispensed with. As a result, the new book is slimmer (126 pages), more compact (4¼ by 7 inches), and less expensive ($9.95). It fits easily into a backpack.

All of these hikes are worth doing. People may differ on how easy they are, as all of them involve climbing to a summit or lookout. Perhaps Best Short Climbs would have been a more accurate title.

Half of the hikes are less than three miles. The easiest is probably Bald Mountain outside Old Forge: a two-mile round trip with only 353 feet of ascent. Only four hikes are longer than five miles. The hardest is Noonmark Mountain in Keene: 6.3 miles round trip with 2,100 feet of ascent.

At the top of each chapter, Densmore lists the following facts about the hike: total distance, type of hike (“out and back” or loop), highest point, vertical gain, hiking time, and canine compatibility. Each chapter also includes a map, driving directions (with GPS coordinates), and a list of waypoints along the hike, such as trail junctions, with their distances from the trailhead.

Densmore is a good writer who packs a lot of trail details into a small space (“the canopy opens briefly as you wind through a small clearing of ferns”), giving hikers a good sense of what to expect. She also identifies trees and wildflowers that grow alongside the trails and weaves in historical tidbits when appropriate.

The hikes are spread throughout the Adirondacks, though there is a heavier concentration in the High Peaks region. Ten of the trails lead to fire towers.

If you’re looking for an introduction to the Adirondacks, Best Easy Day Hikes is a good choice at a low price. Eventually, you may want to buy a more comprehensive guidebook, such as Densmore’s earlier book (both were published by Falcon Guides) or one of the others on the market.

Click here to read about a hike up Loon Lake Mountain that I took with Lisa while she was working on her first Adirondack guidebook.

NOTE: This review will appear in the May/June issue of the Adirondack Explorer, which we are about to send to the printer. The magazine also will include articles about the financing of the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort, the continued decline of bats, the local-food scene, a family camping trip on Forked Lake, and the death of Jim Goodwin, among other subjects. Our centerspread is a gallery of wildflowers that paddlers are apt to see on Adirondack streams and ponds.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer.

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Phil Brown

Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.


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