This year I had the opportunity to stay at the Cranberry Lake State Campground for National Trails Day weekend. Clear skies were forecast Saturday night so I brought my camera to the beach to capture some photos. Here you can see the Milky Way rising above the trees. This place offers some of the darkest skies in the Adirondacks.
One of the many views from Pitchoff on Monday. When you plan your trip, spot cars at Cascade Mountain’s trailhead and Pitchoff’s East Ridge trailhead to make it a through-hike. We started at the West trail, directly across from Cascade Mountain’s trailhead. This is such a pleasant hike with several lookouts and only 4.9 miles (when hiked as a traverse).
Mount Adams firetower is reached via the Upper Works trailhead off exit 29. It’s about five miles round trip and offers a unique view of the High Peaks. In the background are Algonquin and Colden with Calamity mountain in the foreground. The fire tower offers a 360 degree view of the surrounding peaks.
The trail to Dix Mountain from Round Pond is named one the steepest in the Adirondack High Peaks. I worry about early winter slush but on Saturday we had good conditions. Temperatures stayed well below freezing all day. Just before the infamous climb up the mountain you reach a slide. The view is incredible and one of my favorites in the park. It’s about 13.5 miles round trip from the Round Pond trailhead off Route 73. Give yourself plenty of time because there is a lot to explore.
Winter was in the air on Sunday, but only in higher elevations. We hiked the Gothics – Pyramid – Sawteeth traverse and came back to a glowing Indian Head at Lower Ausable Lake. In this photo you can see Indian Head on the left and Mount Colvin on the right. We were in the clouds most of the morning and this sunshine really made our day.
There are still signs of fall in the lower elevations of the Adirondacks. On Sunday I explored Peaked Mountain and Peaked Mountain Pond in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness. The trail starts from the shores of Thirteenth Lake and branches off to follow a beautiful stream towards Peaked Mountain. The hike is about six miles round trip. I’ve been there twice and have yet to see more than a few people on the trail.
On Sunday a group of us hiked the Rocky Peak Ridge to Giant traverse from New Russia. The weather was warm, definitely felt like summer. The climb goes over various peaks. Colors were vibrant red and orange from Blueberry Cobbles to Rocky Peak Ridge. As we approached Giant we noticed more yellows than reds. The elevation gain is 5,300 ft but the countless views on the ridge trail make this such a rewarding hike. The trailhead is found off Route 9 in New Russia.
On Friday I hiked Grace Peak (formerly East Dix) from Route 73 in Keene Valley. Look for the stone bridge that crosses the Boquet River, there is small parking area right after the bridge. The herd path starts along the South side of the river and continues along the North and South Fork. The path is unmarked but very easy to follow. This part of the Dix Mountain wilderness is beautiful open forest with mostly flat terrain. To reach the summit you can take the slide or continue along the herd path to the col between Grace and Carson (South Dix).
I’m usually not keen on hiking in the rain, but some days are perfect for it. Last Sunday was a hot and humid day in the High Peaks. Noonmark mountain is a short and steep trek to nice views of Giant, Keene Valley and the Great Range. You can access the trail via the St. Huberts parking area off Route 73. Once we reached the top the rain was heading right for us. It’s incredible watching a storm move over the mountains.
I keep coming back to Pharaoh Lake. It’s full of campsites and lean-tos, great swimming too. I finally had the chance to stay at Watch Rock. With a large lean-to and Pharaoh mountain close-by, this spot is very popular. There are several spots to sit along the site. This picture was taken during a break in a summer storm.
The trails were busy this weekend with perfect hiking conditions. Crane Mountain is a popular hike to views of the Southern Adirondacks. The trailhead is located on Ski Hi Road in Thurman. You can take the route via the pond or the shorter route directly to the summit. You will notice quite a few paths to great views along the way.