Quick Rip in Old Forge

What up Road Trip Warriors!? I wanted to share some info and photos from a shorter hike located fifteen minutes from downtown Old Forge! I also wanted to give insight for shopping in Old Forge. There is a lot of Adirondack memorabilia sold in this town that is worth checking out! First things first, BALD MOUNTAIN FIRE-TOWER (Rondaxe Fire-tower).

Summary of Bald Mountain 

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: Just under a mile to summit, about 2 miles round trip
  • Elevation: 2,350′ above sea level
  • Hiking Time: 1.5 – 2 hours depending on your pace and how long you spend on the summit
  • Elevation Gain: Approximately 500′ 
  • Photo Opportunities: Your best photo opportunities emerge once you are hiking along the spine of the ridge towards the fire-tower. The views start to open up and you’ll see bodies of water and other mountains in the distance. The fire-tower itself is picturesque as well!

History of Rondaxe Fire-tower

  • It was built in 1917.
  • Tower observers reported smoke sightings to forest rangers, documented weather conditions, and recorded all planes flying over the Adirondacks during World War II.
  • The Tower closed in 1990 and was reopened on June 18, 2005.
  • The Bald Mountain Fire-tower was staffed by more than 30 observers during its 73 years of active service.

Trailhead

The trailhead for Bald Mountain is North of old Forge off NY 28. You’ll want to turn left onto Rondaxe Road and there will be signs indicating where to park for the trail. Be aware that this is a popular hike in the area so the parking fills up fast. You’ll have less of an issue if you hike it in December like I did and the snowy landscape seen from the summit is worth suffering the cold.

Bald Mountain Trail Register

Bald Mountain Trail Sign

The Short Trek

The hike begins as a saunter through the woods, but this quickly changes. After about ten to fifteen minutes on the trail, the hike steepens and you will be climbing. The trail is eroded and during December there will be a lot of ice. There was for me at least, and ice on bare rock is very slippery. I had Kahtoola micro spikes on my boots and they provided the traction I needed (not an ad, I just love my micro spikes).

The trail can be tricky to follow as so many people ended up making their own way to the summit. The last quarter mile I found myself bush-whacking a little bit to reach the Rondaxe Fire-Tower. My suggestion is to pay better attention than I did and keep an eye on the trail markers. Overall, the hike isn’t too difficult, even with the ice, and its a great little workout!

Summit of Bald Mountain

The summit of Bald Mountain has a lot to offer for such a short excursion. There is plenty of open rock to walk around to take in the views. Rondaxe Fire-Tower is fun to climb, and the scenery visible from the top of it are exceptional. If you are okay with heights, I highly recommend.

Rondaxe Fire-tower

Rondaxe Fire-tower plaque

Bald Mountain Firetower Frame-2

Right below the fire tower the open rock is at a slant which makes it nice to lay up against and enjoy the scenery!

View from Bald Mountain Summit

Heading Back to Car

This hike is an out and back. Follow the way you hiked up (unless you ended up bushwhacking…then I would follow the actual trail) and you will end up back in the parking lot in a half-hour to forty-five minutes!

Dog-Friendly

Bald Mountain is a dog-friendly hike! I saw a dog as I made my way back to the car. No better way to exercise with the pup than getting outside and enjoying the weather!

Fam-Friendly

As I previously mentioned, this hike is extremely popular. It is very family-oriented and I would recommend it as an introductory hike for those new to hiking. I would also recommend it to experienced hikers as a good way to step back and enjoy a leisure hike. 

Clothes/Gear Worn

  • Timberland Hiking Boots
  • Nike Compression Leggings
  • Athletic shorts
  • Adidas Joggers
  • Underarmour long-sleeve
  • Athletic T-shirt
  • Athletic Long Sleeve Pullover
  • LL Bean mid-layer jacket
  • Winter Beanie
  • EMS Hiking socks (warmest pair they make)
  • Gloves (with hand warmers in them from Stewarts)
  • Gaiters 
  • Kahtoola microspikes

Gear/Food Brought

  • 2.5L of water
  • Almonds, peanut butter granola bars, and peanut butter sandwiches
  • Extra EMS hiking socks
  • LL Bean outer-shell jacket
  • Balaclava
  • Bandana
  • Extra shirts, compression shorts, and underarmour
  • Wind/Rain Pants
  • Emergency tents and blankets
  • Knife
  • Paracord and two carabiners
  • Water-proof matches
  • LifeStraw (water filtration, costs about $20)
  • Trekking poles
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Garmin inReach (satellite device that has a GPS, can send texts, send SOS, and has many other helpful features)

Shopping in Old Forge

I just wanted to share some shops that you should definitely make time to visit while you are out this way. First and foremost, you should totally stop in at Life in the ADKs. They sell Adirondack memorabilia such as wooden coasters, ornaments, mugs, and clothing. The family that run the store are unbelievably nice and it is always important to shop local! Here is the link to their website! Life in the ADKS

Another store worth checking out is Old Forge Hardware & Furniture Co. This store has just about everything a person might need. Furniture, tools, dinnerware, clothing, and books are just some of the selections that you could browse. You could spend a couple hours in this store just window shopping.

If you are looking for good coffee and food, Ozzie’s Coffee Bar is the place to go! I went there and ordered a Black Eye. It is the same concept as a Red Eye, but with more espresso. It was very good and the strong espresso flavor didn’t take over the taste of the coffee. I look forward to coming back again when it is less crowded. I really enjoyed stopping here and would recommend it to any coffee enthusiast. 

Lastly, I stopped at Mountain Man which is all outdoor gear for hiking, kayaking, biking, etc. The store has whatever you might need for an outdoor expedition. If you’re looking for outdoor equipment, this is the place to go!

RTW Note

Road Trip Warriors!! Thank you for taking the time to read about Bald Mountain and shopping in Old Forge, New York. The Adirondacks are a beautiful place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This was my first visit to Old Forge and I loved everything about it! The local shops, great food, and mountains that surrounded the area make it a very welcoming environment. If you’re considering visiting, I hope this post convinced you. 

If you enjoyed this post and love reading about the outdoors and places to travel, make sure that you smash that follow/subscribe button!! Also show this post some love by liking it and leaving a comment on what your favorite little town is! I would love to get some travel ideas! Stay safe and hike responsibly!

-Ant

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