Almanack Contributor Mike Lynch

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

Thursday, December 8, 2022

After trailhead parking incident, veteran trekker rethinks his outings

john sasso

By Mike Lynch

Albany resident John Sasso,53, is an avid hiker. Bushwhacks, trails, peaks, he’s hiked it. On Saturday, Nov. 26, he got what he described as a “rude awakening.” That morning, he hiked Hurricane Mountain from 9N in Keene. Afterward, he drove to Poke-O-Moonshine to hike the Observer’s Trail off Route 9 in Lewis. When he returned from the second hike, he found his passenger’s side window smashed and an estimated $600 worth of gear missing. The Essex County Sheriff’s Office in Lewis later told him that vehicle break-ins not only occurred at Poke-O-Moonshine that day, but also at trailheads for Hurricane and Baxter in Keene and Belfry Mountain in Moriah. The sheriff’s office could not be reached by the Explorer, but here’s how the day went in Sassos’ own words — edited for clarity and space. 

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

What in the blazes?!?

cascade blazesIn the fall of 2019, I was hiking up Cascade Mountain for a story about High Peaks crowds, when I noticed something unusual on the way up. There were orange blazes painted on rocks and logs.

At first,  I thought it was related to trail work, but the markings seemed too random for that.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Skiing conditions are prime; outdoor rec continues to boom

Foxy Brown ski trail

This spring, when New York State was in a lockdown due to the pandemic, it was unclear what that meant for the Adirondacks. Would the outdoor tourism industry thrive or falter? Would people still be hitting the trails? Would small businesses survive?

» Continue Reading.

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.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The year in photos: Adirondack highlights

There’s no question about it: 2020 was a challenging year due to the pandemic. But luckily, at the Explorer, we sometimes get to escape the realities of the pandemic and go on adventures in the scenic and wild backcountry of the Adirondacks.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Three winter treks that can also work in the shoulder season

Winter in the Adirondacks is unpredictable, but whether there is snow or not, you can always hike. Your footwear will just differ, depending on the conditions.

» Continue Reading.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Ski centers gear up for a different kind of season

Some years ski season is in full swing by late November. That isn’t the case this year, but that hasn’t kept me from considering where I’ll be headed during the upcoming ski season.  And I’m wondering where everyone else will be headed.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Behind the lens: Trail signs

When out on assignment in the Forest Preserve, I seem to take photos of every trail sign I come across. However, after I download them, they disappear into my archives and are never seen again.

This image isn’t necessarily one of my favorite trail sign shots, but the photo assignment when I took the image was interesting.

That day, in late June, I was tasked with meeting writer Betsy Kepes at 10:30 a.m. at the Cold River near Shattuck Clearing. Kepes was writing a story about backpacking through lowlands in the western High Peak Wilderness.

So that day I got up early, paddled roughly 8 miles to the lean-to at the north end of Long Lake, where I could connect with the Northville-Placid Trail. From there, I hiked in the rain for another 5 miles to meet Betsy and her two friends at a bridge over the Cold River.

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Documenting historic High Peaks hikes

Bethany and KatieIn September, Katie Rhodes and Bethany Garretson added their names to Adirondack hiking lore by doing an unsupported trip through the High Peaks in just over seven days.

According to, a website that tracks and verified hiking challenges around the world, the pair are the first women to do this style of trip through the High Peaks, at this pace. Unsupported means they carried their supplies from the start to the finish and didn’t get any help along the way from anyone else. Supported speed hikers receive assistance from others on their trip.

They were at least the second pair of women to thru-hike the Adirondack High Peaks this fall. Sarah Keyes and Alyssa Godesky did a supported version of the Adirondack 46, with Godesky setting the women’s record in 3 days, 16 hours and 16 minutes.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Share your favorite winter gear essentials

I was talking to digital editor Melissa Hart earlier this week about future projects, and one of the ideas we settled on was bolstering our web and social media content aimed at people who are new to outdoor activities and the Adirondack Park. I’m talking about topics such as essential gear and info that can aid with trip planning.

At the Explorer, we’ve always focused on this type of content, but now the demand seems even greater because of the continuing rise in new visitors to the Adirondack Park.

The timing to start rolling out this material is also good because this type of info is extremely important in the winter months, when the environment is less forgiving for outdoor users. If you have problems in the woods when it’s 85 degrees, things can get uncomfortable. However, if you get lost when it’s 15 degrees, things can get very serious quickly. So you better be prepared before heading out.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Salmon runs and deadlines

Atlantic Salmon courtesy NOAA FisheriesRight now, we’re getting down to crunch time at the Adirondack Explorer, wrapping up many of our writing and photo assignments for the November issue.

We’ve got a lot of interesting news and recreational features lined up for this issue, including ones about Boquet and the Saranac rivers and how they’ve been impacted by dams. Atlantic salmon, in particular, have historically seen their spawning grounds cut off by the dams. Not only in the Adirondack region, but on the west, too.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Fighting a hemlock invasion

Hemlock woolly adelgidScientists have found a large swath of trees with hemlock woolly adelgid in the Lake George watershed, including a 1.5-mile stretch along the eastern shoreline. This is in addition to some that was found in August on Glen Island.

This is considered especially troubling for the Lake George region because hemlocks are so prevalent there, and they play a key role in the ecosystem, providing habitat for trout and other wildlife.

» Continue Reading.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

On the search for the elusive moose

Wednesday morning I rolled out of bed a little before 5 a.m. to meet up with Explorer intern Francesca Krempa to see if we could catch a glimpse of a moose in the early dawn hours.

Francesca is working on a story about the health and size of the moose population, and in these pandemic times, she had been unable to find a biologist or guide to go out into the field on a moose survey.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

When the secret’s out

People who spend a lot of time in the woods often develop favorite spots. I’ve had plenty of these over the years, and one of my chosen ones was a swimming hole in the Catskill Park.

I developed an affinity for this spot while living and working as a landscaper and dry-stone mason just outside of Woodstock after college. I loved doing this work because it was physically demanding and job sites were in scenic locations. Many days after work, my co-worker and I would be completely exhausted and overheated, so we’d take a drive to a place called the Blue Hole, a little-known swimming hole he’d discovered by word of mouth that was an easy walk from the road.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Exploring forgotten lands: The Sable Highlands

While crowds of people continue to show up at High Peak trailheads between St. Huberts and Lake Placid, there are still plenty of wild places in the Adirondacks where you can spend time and possibly not even see another person.

Just the other day, I took a quick paddle on Grass Pond in the Sable Highlands, located near Loon Lake in the northern Adirondacks, and didn’t see another soul.

Earlier in the year, I took a bike ride and hike with former Explorer editor Phil Brown on the same easement property and also didn’t see anyone else recreating. That day, Phil and I left from a parking area at Fishhole Pond. We were exploring the property because Phil was working on a story about a bike route and trail that had been planned by the state but had never been implemented.

Phil spent a good amount his time exploring the Sable Highlands easement lands this spring and summer. What he found is that many of the recreation routes that the state had been planning to develop were never completed.

In recent weeks we’ve started publishing Phil’s explorations of the Sable Highlands easement lands on our website.

You can read the pieces he’s published already by following the links here. One is about a planned bike route near Fishhole Pond and the other is about a trail up Norton Peak near Standish that was never built.

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