Thursday, January 21, 2021

Good conditions for short hikes

Black MountainEditor’s note: This first appeared Jan. 14 in Mike’s weekly “Backcountry Journal” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

It’s been a mild and dry winter so far in the Adirondacks, so when I headed to the Lake George region on a recent Sunday for a hike, I suspected I wouldn’t need snowshoes.

Instead, I grabbed my microspikes for the 5-mile round trip up Black Mountain, located on the eastern side of the lake. As it turned out, that was the right choice. The trail was hard-packed and the base was fairly thin and very icy at times.

The view that day also turned out to be spectacular, and you can read a little about that and my approach to that photography assignment by following the link below this newsletter.

This winter has been good for hiking small mountains, like the 2,641-foot-tall Black, and I’ve tried to take advantage of that by getting out from time to time. But the lack of snowfall has not been so great for people who like to ski. You can definitely find places to go, like the Jackrabbit Trail, and many groomed places have good coverage. But the base isn’t very substantial. As of last week, Lake Colden only had about a foot of snow.

So when you’re packing for your next hike, you might find yourself wondering which footwear you are going to need. I would say bring snowshoes for hikes into the High Peaks and perhaps a few other places, but keep those microspikes handy if you’re heading to a smaller mountain in the North Country, at least until we get that next big snowfall. And keep in mind you may hit some serious ice on the trail. I’ve seen examples of that in a few places.

Photo by Mike Lynch

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Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly news magazine with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues. Mike’s favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing. In 2011, he paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. From 2007 until 2014, Mike worked as an outdoors writer and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake. Mike welcomes story ideas and can be reached at

One Response

  1. Mike Lynch says:

    Conditions have changed since I wrote this piece more than a week ago. It’s snowed a lot in the Adirondacks, so I recommend snowshoes in most places. Skiing conditions are also very good now.

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