Haystack Mountain: Saranac Region

Saranac 6er Number Four!

What up Road Trip Warriors!? It has been a few since I posted last! As soon as I got home from my road trip I started a new job and have been focused on that. I did get a hike in though that I wanted to share with you all! It was my fourth Saranac 6er mountain, Haystack, and it was TERRIBLE. I have never had a hike I disliked until this one. It had nothing to do with the length, incline, or any of that…..it was the mosquitoes!!!! I have never been attacked by more mosquitoes in my life while out in the woods…..anyways, I wanted to give you all some info about the hike and what to expect!

Summary of Haystack Mountain

  • Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
  • Length: 6.6 – 7 miles round trip
  • Elevation: 2,878′ above sea level
  • Hiking Time: It took us just under 2 hours to reach the summit. We didn’t take many breaks to avoid being eaten alive by mosquitoes…
  • Photo Opportunities: The summit of Haystack offers some good views, but I wasn’t able to see them. It was extremely overcast and the fog was thick.

Beginning of the Hike

The trailhead is right off off Route 86 near Lake Placid. There is a large parking lot with a trailhead sign that is hard to miss. Here is a picture of the sign below.

Saranac Haystack Mountain Sign

Saranac Haystack:McKenzie Mountain Sign

The Trail

The trail follows blue trail markers for a couple miles through thick woods. On the day we hiked this mountain, it had just rained and the amount of moisture in the air made the hike more daunting. The trail traverses a few small streams and occasionally the streams flow alongside the trail. None of this was helping the mosquito situation. Below is one of the blue trail markers that you’ll be following along the trail to Haystack.

Haystack Saranac Blue Trail Marker

Trail Split: Haystack or Mckenzie

After hiking for some time along the relatively flat trail through the woods the trail splits. There is a noticeable sign which points to Haystack and Mckenzie. We continued onto Haystack on the left of the split.

Saranac Haystack Trail Split

Summit of Haystack in Saranac!

After the trail split, the hike starts to climb, and at around the 3 mile mark of the hike, the climb gets more aggressive. You’ll know when you’re at the summit because it is an open ledge with plenty of space to walk around. The views would have been great if it weren’t for the fog. I still recommend doing this hike, just maybe when the mosquitoes aren’t as bad and the weather is better.

Summit of Haystack in Saranac

Continuing Towards Mckenzie Mountain and Calling the Hike Off

You can continue hiking on a trail (not the one you were just on, walk along the summit of Haystack and you’ll find it on the opposite side of your initial approach) after summiting Haystack. It will descend and you’ll eventually reach a cairn. Turn right at the cairn. This trail will lead you to an intersection upon which you can turn left to continue onto Mckenzie or right to hike 3.4 miles back to the parking lot on Route 86. There is a wooden sign on a tree at this intersection that you can reference.

The mosquitoes had gotten so bad at this point that I had been bitten at least 12-15 times, and that’s being conservative. It was probably more than that. Because of this, we decided it would be best to come back to Mckenzie another time. It is the highest of the Saranac 6ers, so I want better weather and hopefully less bugs the next time that I go. Before anyone starts picking on me, YES I did bring bug spray and it did NOTHING.

Getting Back to the Trailhead/Parking

This trail loops around so you can summit Haystack and follow the new trail down that was mentioned above. Just be careful you pay attention and turn right at the small stone cairn. After that, the hike back to the car is rather self-explanatory. Just don’t trip in a stream while running away from mosquitoes like I did…bloodied my hand up pretty good when I punched a mean boulder upon my fall.

Dog-Friendly

This hike is dog-friendly. I saw a dog or two hiking along the trail. Just bring extra water for your pup and he/she will do just fine. There wasn’t any part of the hike a dog would struggle with.

Fam-Friendly

This hike is easy/moderate because of its length and dependent upon your fitness level, but most individuals should be able to do it. It is a great workout and a good choice for people that want to get away from the crowds of the High Peaks.

Clothes Worn

  • Timberland Boots
  • Nike Compression Leggings
  • Athletic shorts
  • Athletic T-shirt
  • Patagonia hat
  • Hiking socks

Gear Brought

  • 3L of water
  • Almonds and peanut butter sandwiches
  • Wind/Rain pants
  • Extra layers (UnderArmour)
  • Extra hiking socks
  • 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)

RTW Note

Thanks for taking the time to check out this hike even though I shared how rough it was! I hope it was helpful/informative for those looking to hike in the Saranac Lake area. I am sure this hike is a lovely when it isn’t as humid and the bugs aren’t as cumbersome. I still would recommend it to a friend. Hit the like and follow buttons if you found this post helpful or enjoyed it in any way. Leave a comment if you want to reach out. I enjoy reading your thoughts and remarks! I will keep the posts coming as I continue to hike!

-Ant

 

 

Road Trip to Yellowstone NP: Day Six 5/30/19

West Glacier, Montana –> Yellowstone National Park, Montana/Wyoming

It was about a seven hour drive from West Glacier Montana to Western Yellowstone, Montana. The drive took me through small mountain towns surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Perhaps my favorite town was Ennis, a town in Madison County, Montana. It had some small restaurants, quaint log homes, and outdoor shops. After driving for awhile, I ended up in Idaho for about a half-an-hour. I was lucky enough to drive by Henrys Lake in Southeastern Idaho. It is an alpine lake located at 6,476′ above sea level. Snow-capped mountains towered above it. Finally, I made it to Western Yellowstone National Park. After checking in to the hotel, I decided to explore in my car for a bit. It turned out to be one of my better decisions. I saw a lot of wildlife and a gorgeous sunset. Here are some photos and info from the day.

Swan Lake

While driving through Montana, I had the opportunity to pull off of the road to take some pictures of Swan Lake. This lake sits at an elevation of 3,104′ and is surrounded by mountains and national forest. I did some research and the lake began as a community of loggers. The water was pristine and was still.

Swan Lake, Montana

Ennis, Montana

As mentioned above, this was my favorite mountain town to drive through. It is surrounded three mountain ranges being the Madison Range, the Gravelly Range, and the Tobacco Root Mountains. It offers some of the best river locations in the state (according to my research) with Madison River being known for its trout fishing. The town really offers a western vibe and it made me wonder how it used to be in this area back in the 1800s….ya know…the “Wild West.” Anyways….onto the next section…

Henrys Lake, Idaho

There were no pull-offs here so I unfortunately I did not get a picture. If you have the chance, google this location. It is absolutely stunning.

Western Yellowstone, Montana/Wyoming

I finally made it to Yellowstone and checked into the hotel. After bringing the luggage into the room, I decided it would be a good time to check out the park before the sun set. I drove into the park hoping to see wildlife and I was not disappointed. There were bison everywhere and they are HUGE!! I lost count of how many pictures I took. The highlight of my day was getting caught in bison traffic on the road in Yellowstone NP. It may sound silly, but it was one of the coolest things I have seen. Here are a bunch of photos I was lucky enough to take.

Multiple Bison Yellowstone NP

Bison and sun hitting cliffs Yellowstone NP

Bison Road Traffic

Bison in Water Yellowstone NP

Bison Close-up

Back to Hotel and Sunset

On the way back to the hotel I was able to get an awesome reflection shot as the sun was setting. This park is absolutely awe-inspiring and I cannot wait to explore it all day tomorrow. I look forward to sharing all of the photos I am able to take! Hopefully I will get to see some more wildlife as well!!

Yellowstone reflection shot

Thanks Again to Anyone Following Along

Thank you again to anyone that takes the time to read my blog posts and look at the photos. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoy taking them. I love sharing stories, information, and photos with people. I feel that traveling is important and opens your mind to new ideas. It has helped me become more environmentally aware, more creative, and appreciative of what I have in my life. Anyways, if you enjoyed this post, hit the like button, leave a comment, and don’t forget to follow! I have many more photos to come!!

 

Five Easy Day Hikes in New York

New York Hiking

What’s going on Road Trip Warriors!? New York State offers some of the best hiking in the Northeast with mountainous landscapes such as the Adirondacks and the Catskills. Some of the hikes in these mountains are more rigorous than others. I wanted to share what I believe to be five easy day hikes in New York. None of these hikes have a round trip distance of greater than eight miles, and they offer great outdoor experiences for all ages.

Overlook Mountain (Catskills)

  • Distance: 4.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation: 3,140′
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate depending on fitness level.
  • Dog-friendly: This hike is dog-friendly.
  • Photo opportunities: The abandoned hotel is very cool to explore. We had a great time walking through its ruins in the snow.

This was one of the few hikes I have done in the Catskills and we did it in the snow. This hike had its pros and cons. One of the major cons was that it lacked the feeling of being secluded in the woods. Power lines were visible while we made our way along the trail. Another con that we did not have to deal with is the presence of snakes. Apparently this area is well-known for having many rattlesnakes. If you choose to hike this mountain during warmer weather, be careful.

One of the major pros of this hike was exploring the abandoned hotel (Overlook Mountain House). The ruins of the building are being reclaimed by nature and it was thought-invoking knowing that people had walked through the former hotel back in the 1920s.

Overlook Mountain

Kane Mountain (Southern Adirondacks)

  • Distance: 1 mile round trip
  • Elevation: 2,200′
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Dog-friendly: This hike is dog-friendly. I don’t know how anyone feels about bringing their pet up the fire-tower though.
  • Photo opportunities: The only place you will be able to get scenic photos is from the top of the fire-tower. The summit of Kane Mountain is heavily wooded.

Kane Mountain is one of the easiest hikes in the Southern Adirondacks. It is about a half mile to the summit, and the views from the fire-tower aren’t too bad. You’ll need to ascend the fire-tower to get a good lookout of the surrounding area. It should not take you more than twenty to thirty minutes to summit.

Kane Mountain

Hadley Mountain (Southern Adirondacks)

  • Distance: 3.7 (about) miles round trip
  • Elevation: 2,654′
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Dog-friendly: This hike is dog-friendly.
  • Photo opportunities: There are some cool spots as you get towards the summit to take photos. The summit itself is not wooded, and there is a fire-tower. You can get great photographs from just about anywhere on the summit.

This was another one of my first hikes that made me fall in love with getting out into the woods. The hike itself is a good workout, but not too strenuous. The summit has 360º views and a fire-tower that can be climbed.

Hadley Mountain

Sleeping Beauty (Southern Adirondacks)

  • Distance: Varies from 5 to 7.5 miles depending where you park.
  • Elevation: 2,347′
  • Difficulty: Moderate (only because of distance)
  • Dog-friendly: This hike is dog-friendly.
  • Photo opportunities: The summit offers beautiful views of Lake George. Although the summit does not offer 360º views, it is still well worth the trek.

This was one of the first few hikes I went on before I started doing bigger ones. The distance is enough for a good workout, it is not too strenuous, and the vantage point of Lake George in the distance is astounding.

Sleeping Beauty

Goodluck Cliffs (Southern Adirondacks)

  • Distance: Roughly 5 miles
  • Elevation:
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate depending on fitness level.
  • Dog-friendly: This hike is dog-friendly.
  • Photo opportunities: Once you reach the cliffs, you get sweeping views of the Southern Adirondacks. There is plenty of space on the cliffs for photographs.

This was a spontaneous hike that I did with a friend. This hike is great if you are looking for a trail that will make you sweat, is not too long, and offers a great place to chill out and eat snacks with a view. It was fun sitting at the edge of the cliffs taking in the sea of green trees of the Southern Adirondacks.

Goodluck Cliffs

RTW Note

Thank you for taking the time to check out this post about five easy day hikes in New York. Each one of these hikes offers something unique and they are all worth it. I highly recommend these hikes to any hiker whether they be novice or experienced. Remember to always leave no trace and respect other hikers on the trail. If you enjoyed this post, hit the like/follow button, comment, and share it with others if you found it helpful! As always, looking forward to sharing more!

-Ant

The Dix Mountain Range

Hiking The Dix Mountain Range!

What up my Road Trip Warriors!? I apologize for the delay as I am in the middle of working on my master’s degree. I try my best to post about a hike I have done within one week of doing it. Sooooo I am a little late, but I still wanted to make this post happen! Last Saturday (9/15/18), my brother Alex and I took on the Dix Mountain Range in the Adirondacks. The Dix Mountain Range is essentially right off Exit 29 of I-87 Northbound. The directions to this range are in one of my previous posts (Macomb and South Dix). The Dix Mountain Range includes five Adirondack High Peaks. These mountains are Macomb Mountain, South Dix, Grace Peak (formerly East Dix), Hough, and finally, Dix Mountain. We ascended them in that order as well. It was a tiring day as we left my house at 3:00 AM and started our hike around 4:45 AM. We did not get back to my car until around 7:15 PM! The day was well worth it and the weather was perfect. Well, enough of the small talk, lets get into the nitty gritty of this fantastic excursion!

Into Darkness…

As mentioned above, we started this hike very early (4:45 AM) because we wanted to be able to park in the lot nearest to the trailhead. Guess what? There was absolutely no parking as all the campers got there the day before! Completely frustrated, we went back to the overflow lot and walked down the long road in the dark. I had a 200 lumen headlamp and my brother had a flashlight. I must say, it was exciting to trek through the dark. It was eery and quiet causing us to pay attention to every noise we heard in the woods. It stayed pitch black until the sun rose around 6:30 AM. At 7:00 AM, we had reached the Macomb Mountain rock slide.

Macomb Rock Slide
Macomb Mountain Rock Slide

Macomb Mountain

We hit the familiar summit of Macomb at 8:00 AM. The sights were beautiful and the weather was gorgeous. We were the only two on the summit and the only other noise that we would occasionally hear was the breeze. Everything was serene and it was very enjoyable. After taking a few pictures and having some water/snacks, we decided to move on. We had four more mountains ahead of us and we had already hiked Macomb this past summer.

Elk Lake from Macomb Summit
Elk Lake seen from Macomb Mountain (4,420′)

South Dix

Down the herd path about .7 miles is South Dix. This was the second mountain that I had hiked this past summer before having to turn back because we started hiking late in the day. The summit of South Dix is surrounding by trees and vegetation, but you can still get great shots as you head up the side of this High Peak. While we were climbing the rock scrambles, the clouds were blanketing the valley and mountains in the distance and it made for some great photographs.

Me looking at clouds near South Dix

We hit the summit of South Dix at roughly 9:15 AM and it sits at 4,060′. For sake of saving space, I am leaving out the picture of the sign when you hit the summit of South Dix. If anyone would like to see it, it can be found in the Macomb and South Dix post.

On to Grace Peak Baby!!

Now we have reached the exciting part of this post because, well, everything from this point was NEW! So, to get to Grace Peak, you will walk past South Dix and end up at a split in the trail. If you would like to complete Grace, go to your right. This mountain is an out-and-back along the loop and it is roughly 1.1 miles one way to get to the summit. There was nothing too strenuous in terms of ascending and descending to get to our destination. I do remember there being A LOT of mud along the trail so I recommend taking your time finding the best approach so you don’t bury your boots.

We hit Grace peak at about 10:00 AM. At this point, there were other people on the summit or on the trail. As much as I enjoy the calm and quiet of trekking through the woods, I do like talking to other like-minded people who hike. Everyone has interesting stories to tell and things to say. We chilled out for a bit and took some more pictures before heading back towards South Dix.

View from Grace 3
Grace Peak Summit (4,012′)
Me on Grace
Probably telling the bro to make my jawline look nice…
View from Grace 2
Another shot taken from Grace Peak

Next Destination: Hough (Pronounced “Huff”)

After completing this mountain, you’ll just return the 1.1 miles back toward South Dix from the trail that got you to Grace. Back at the spot you turned to head towards Grace, you will go the opposite way towards Hough. This mountain is roughly a mile away from South Dix and there was some significant descending and ascending involved while heading there. The trail also had some tough muddy spots. At this point in the day, the four hours of sleep we got and mileage was starting to catch up with us. We took our time and stopped at any outlook we could as an excuse to give our legs a break. We finally hit Hough at 12:20ish PM. Although the summit was not very big, it is worth it. You’ll be able to see Elk Lake again and the vast amount of trees that make the Adirondack wilderness so beautiful.

Hough Marker
Hough marker
View from Hough
View from Hough (4,400′)

From Hough, you will be able to see where you’re headed and it may look a little intimidating…I promise you that it looks worse than it is….kinda..

View of Beckhorn
The Beckhorn!!

That tall point is what is known as the Beckhorn! You must go up and over that to get to Dix Mountain behind it. From Hough, Dix is roughly 1.3 miles away. From this picture above, you can tell that you will be doing quite a bit of ascending. That makes sense though considering that Dix Mountain is the 6th highest Adirondack High Peak.

Final Summit to Complete: Dix Mountain!

As you can imagine, our legs at this point were shot. We took our time getting to Dix, and we stopped at just about every outlook that we came across. We decided to stop on this one boulder that allowed us to take in some great sights. To our unfortunate selves, on this boulder we found out about No-See-Ums. These are very tiny black flies that land on you and bite. Their bite has a minor sting to it, but what was worse for me was the relentless itching throughout the days that followed our hike. These bugs are persistent even with bug spray. I thought my brother was going to lose his mind haha. So as you all can imagine, we started moving again quickly after we got swarmed by those annoying little insects.

Soon enough, you will reach the Beckhorn. Dix is a very short distance away (a few hundred feet).

Dix seen from Beckhorn
Dix Mountain seen from the Beckhorn

We hit Dix Mountain around 2:00 – 2:15 PM. This mountain is absolutely stunning as it offers 360º views and is a great vantage point. You can see Elk Lake, The Great Range, and Giant Mountain to name a few.

Dix Marker
Dix Mountain marker
Elk Lake from Dix
Elk Lake was sparkling in the sun
Giant seen from Dix
Giant Mountain in the upper left corner

We stayed on the top of this summit for a bit talking with a few people roughly our age about hikes they’ve completed in the Adirondacks. We ate a bunch of the food we brought and tried our best to rehydrate. We were running low on water at this point as I had only brought two liters when I really should have brought three. I learned my lesson and I will ALWAYS bring three liters on every hike from here on out. It was a great opportunity to do the whole Dix Range in one day. Although it makes for a long day, it truly is worth it.

Our Descent

We left Dix around 3:00 PM  took the Beckhorn trail down back towards the parking lot. This trail down is rather steep for quite awhile so do not rush. It is not worth getting injured, especially so far from the trailhead parking lot. Exhausted, we kept pushing forward and the only thing really motivating us was the thought of eating a vast amount of food when we got back home.

As our morale was dissipating quickly, a heavy rainstorm came in and poured on us. At this point, this seemed to have revived our spirits because the cold rain had felt so good. We also had any rain gear we needed and a change of clothes. This helped us pick up the pace and start moving along the trail much quicker. Eventually we hit a sign that said the parking lot was about three miles away. We passed Lillian’s Brook, Slide Brook, and then our morale started dropping again.

I think the toughest part of this particular hike mentally, was getting down to the parking lot and having to come to the realization my car was still roughly two miles away. It was starting to get dark, we were starving, and our legs were done. After what seemed like forever, we finally made it back to my car.

In Summary

Hiking five Adirondack High Peaks in one day was no joke, especially with having to park in the overflow lot. We ended up trekking 20+ miles starting in the dark of the morning and ending with the sun setting. If you ever plan on doing this hike, or something similar, make sure that you have enough time, gear, and food/water. I clearly did not have enough water this time and I learned my lesson. I do carry a LifeStraw and I know where the sources of water are on the trails of this range so I was not worried. But I should have still brought three liters. Dix Mountain could quite possibly be my new favorite Adirondack mountain. There was so much that was visible from it, I will probably do it again at some point.

Me on Dix
Hanging out on the summit of Dix Mountain (4,857′)

RTW Note:

Thank you again to everyone that takes the time to read my posts. I enjoy writing them and I apologize for the delay for a new one. I would never want to rush something that I enjoy and I do not want to put out poor content. I hope you enjoyed the photos and what I had to say. Always remember to adventure hard!

-Ant

 

 

Noonmark Mountain: Not a High Peak, But Just As Rewarding

Hiking Noonmark Mountain

What up Road Trip Warriors!? I hope everyone had an amazing summer filled with great adventures, tasty food, and good people! This past Wednesday (8/29/18), my brother, Alex, and I hiked up Noonmark Mountain. Noonmark Mountain is located in Keene Valley and the parking lot for the trail is where I have been parking for many other hikes. It is the Ausable Road parking lot located right off of Route 73. I had not planned to hike this mountain, but my brother was persistent in his ways (as all younger siblings are), and I caved. I am glad I was such a pushover because this mountain has so much to offer. It is a great workout, it is steep, and you’ll have to climb up rockslides and scrambles. Noonmark really is the full package at only 7.2ish miles round trip.

Beginning Of the Trek

You’ll hop out of the car and make your way up the dirt road for less than half of a mile. There will be a sign that says “Noonmark” on it and you will take a left and notice the post where the sign-in sheet is for the hike. After signing in, you will continue up the road for some ways and past some private properties. Ensure that you are not being too loud as you pass by.

Initially, you will be hiking up a moderate trail that is mainly dirt with rocks. Although there may not be many obstacles, do not forget to take breaks if they are needed. My brother and I took many breaks in the beginning of our hike due to the high humidity. Hydration is essential and one’s health and well-being should always be the top priority when hiking. If you are with a hiking partner or in a group do not be afraid to ask the occasional “does anybody need a water break?” because chances are that they do.

Further Along the Trail

Soon enough you will hit a sign where the trail diverges. To your left is a trail that leads to Round Mountain (1.7 miles from this point). To your right will be the trail to Noonmark Mountain (1.5 miles away). We continued to the right towards the summit of Noonmark Mountain. I am sure that I will be on Round Mountain at some point before the end of 2018 and I will be sure to write about it.

The trail does get steeper, but it levels out here and there. In the woods, you will be able to walk along this large stone wall which I thought was worth the photo.

Walking Past Stone Wall
Hiking along a stone wall on Noonmark Mountain Trail

Not long after walking past the stone wall, you will reach your first break of tree line where you will be able to see the Ausable Club far below you. Giant Mountain is also quite prominent towering over the valley below.

Giant Mountain from Noonmark 1st opening
Giant Mountain in the distance

This is a great spot to stop and chill out on the rockslide to eat some snacks and rehydrate before moving further on along the trail. The trail will start to have more rockslides and boulders after this point. Be careful if the rockslides are wet as they can be very slippery.

Small rock scrambles on Noonmark
More frequent rockslides and boulders as you gain elevation

The Noonmark Mountain trail is great because it offers multiple rewards as you keep ascending. There are several spots where you will be able to step out onto some bald rock to admire the views this mountain trail has to offer. We stepped out onto some of these bald rock faces and were able to look up and see the summit was within our grasp.

View of Noonmark with clouds
Summit of Noonmark Mountain within reach

The trail becomes steeper with more rockslides and there are a few spots where extra precaution should be taken. This one spot in particular is one where you should take your time and watch your feet. You will have the option on the left of climbing over the tree roots. Then, on your right, you will have the option to climb up the rockslide. We decided to take the latter and go up the rockslide as it was relatively dry. Although these are fun to climb up, take care with each step. You are close to the summit at this point and there is no need to risk injury so take your time.

Rock Slide:Tree Routes growing over trail
These trees never cease to amaze me with their will to live

The Summit of Noonmark Mountain!

The summit of Noonmark Mountain is nothing short of amazing because it has so much to offer. The rewards of this mountain include (but are not limited to) 360º views where you can see the Great Range, Giant Mountain, Keene Valley, and the Ausable Club far below. It stands at 3,556′ and can be completed in a few hours depending on how long you spend taking breaks and pictures. The summit of Noonmark Mountain is mainly bald rock with plenty of space to walk around. It also has plant life and numerous dragonflies and grasshoppers buzzing around at this time of year. My brother and I captured multitudes of photos while spending a half hour up on the summit.

View into Keene Valley from Noonmark Summit
Keene Valley and Ausable Club
View of Great Range from Noonmark Summit
The Great Range
Studying the Great Range
Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” – David McCullough Jr.

If it is windy on the summit like it was when I went, there are plenty of spots that provide great wind cover. Noonmark Mountain is not a High Peak in the Adirondacks, but it had just as much to offer, if not more.

Descent

The Noonmark Mountain trail is an out and back trail so you will just go down the same way you climbed up. Again, be careful on the rockslides and steep sections. One false move and you could injure yourself. It is always better to take your time when descending. There is not much info on the descent I need to provide with the fact that it is an out and back trail. My only recommendation is hitting up Noonmark Diner after getting back to your vehicle. It is only a five minute drive from the lot and the food is great after any hike!

Gear

  • 2L of water
  • A bunch of food (trail mix, peanut butter sandwich, etc.)
  • Canon camera
  • First-aid kit
  • Matches
  • Knife
  • Extra clothes
  • LifeStraw water filter
  • Bug spray
  • Map
  • Extra garbage bag for any litter that I come across

I always bring more than I probably need to for these hikes, but I would rather be over-prepared than not have something I might need to use.

RTW Note

I highly recommend this trail to both amateur and experienced hikers. It is a fun trail that was short, but still had its own unique challenges. I hope this was helpful to anyone that is interested in hiking, the outdoors and backpacking. I also hope you enjoyed the photos although they do not do the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains any justice. Stay safe and keep on adventuring!

-Ant

Dial & Nippletop Mountains Via Leach Trail and Back Down Elk Pass

Two More High Peaks Down!!

What is going on my Road Trip Warriors!? This past Monday we (My pal Adam and yours truly) took on Dial Mountain and Nippletop Mountain in the Adirondack wilderness. We battled giant black flies and extreme humidity for a majority of the hike, but need I say that we emerged victorious? Our total distance for the day ranged somewhere between 14 and 16 miles, and the tired legs were completely worth it. We had an amazing time spending nine hours making our way through the serene forests and then topping it off with a delicious meal at Noonmark Diner. The hike is long and tiresome on the legs, but very rewarding.

Back at The Ausable Road Parking Lot

I parked in the lot a little later than I would have liked to for this hike at roughly 8:45 AM (8/27/18). The usual routine occurred of putting on the hiking boots, double-checking our gear, and making sure we had more than enough water. Double-checking your bags before going on a long hike is something everyone should do. We walked up the familiar road towards the Ausable Club where we turned left in-between the two tennis courts. Shortly, we hit the post where we signed in and made our way down the road past the wooden AMR sign. The trail appears at about a mile down the dirt road and it is on the left-hand side. The sign states that it is Leach Trail and it leads to Dial/Nippletop. This would be the trail we would take.

Leach Trail over Bear Den

Leach Trail is a long and rather strenuous trail through the Adirondack Mountain Reserve area that will take one over Bear Den, to Dial Mountain, and then to Nippletop Mountain. It is not an easy trek, but if you enjoy being deep in the woods, I highly suggest it. The trail begins at a moderate incline without many obstacles. You’ll be walking on dirt and pine needles for quite some time. Eventually, the trail will start to change and tree roots begin to snake across it. This is one of my favorite parts about hiking because I find it crazy how large and far these roots will stretch across the wooded area.

Roots stretched across Leach Trail
Roots stretched out across the trail

Moving forward, the path becomes much narrower with tall green grass and thin trees on each side of you. You’ll become more and more immersed in the Adirondack wilderness before coming across a sign that will let you know where you’re at.

Bear Den, Dial, Nippletop Sign

Shortly after this sign, you will hit your first outbreak on some bald rock where you will be able to see the Great Range in the distance.

View of Great Range Before Hiking up Bear Den
View of the Great Range in the distance

After stopping here, you’ll see in front of you Bear Den Mountain. Unfortunately, there is not much to see while making the trek up Bear Den as it is mostly wooded. I read that there was an outcrop past the peak one can climb for some views, but we did not take the time to do this. When you hit this sign, you have hit the summit of Bear Den.

Sign at Bear Den Mountain
Sign where you have hit the “summit” of Bear Den Mountain

I suggest taking a breather here because you still have a long way to go before hitting the two High Peaks on this trail. I do not want to delve into too much detail for the distance between Bear Den and Dial Mountain as I do not remember anything being particularly difficult. It is essentially just more of a dirt path at a moderate incline with rocks and roots scattered among the trail. Although this sign above states that Dial is only 1.3 miles away, when hiking, that is not a short distance…especially during the summer heat. You should always make sure to stay hydrated and do not over-exert yourself.

Dial Mountain

Eventually you will hit another sign and a large boulder looking out into the Great Range. This is where you’ll find the summit of Dial Mountain. We hit the summit of this High Peak around 12:30 PM. The sign looks like this…

Sign when you hit Dial Mountain

Once you are here, take a moment to chill out on the boulder and admire the beauty of the Adirondacks. It was humid and a bit hazy for the day we were on this hike, but the sights were still beautiful.

Dial Mountain View #1
The green forests of the Adirondacks seen from Dial Mountain
Dial Mountain View #2
The Great Range seen from Dial Mountain
Sitting at the Edge of Dial Mountain
Sitting at the edge of Dial Mountain

The summit is not particularly large, and the views are not 360º, but it still offers a nice view and a good spot to break down before making your way towards Nippletop Mountain.

Off to Nippletop Mountain!

After summiting Dial Mountain, you will be on a very long ridge for quite a bit of time. There are occasional ascents and descents, but nothing drastic. There was not nearly as much mud as I had expected there to be. There was one spot with deep mud, but it is avoidable. I was able to keep my feet dry by testing different spots with my trekking poles. Soon enough you will hit another sign and if you feel the way I felt at this point, you will be relieved. The sign states that you are .2 miles away from Nippletop and it is a huge morale booster.

Sign .2 miles to Nippletop

As you continue forward, you will climb a little bit more. You will hit a a few rocks that you may need to use your hands to get up and over. Once you hit the summit of Nippletop, the views of the Great Range are absolutely breathtaking. This mountain sits at 4,620′ putting it at number thirteen of the forty-six Adirondack High Peaks. We hit the summit at approximately 2:30 PM. I suggest hanging on the summit for a bit to take it all in. You can see mountains for miles upon miles.

View from Nippletop #2
Mountains can be seen for miles from Nippletop Mountain sitting at 4,620′
View from Nippletop
Another angle of the mountains seen in the distance
Perched on Nippletop Mountain
No better feeling in the world
Sitting on Nippletop
Thinking of the reasons not to come down

Getting Back to The Parking Lot

That sign that was mentioned above, “Nippletop .2 miles,” also had two signs underneath it. Here is a what they stated…

Sign to Elk Pass & St. Huberts parking

You will have the option to either go back down through Leach Trail or go down Elk Pass. Although the Elk Pass route was a little longer, we did not want to go back up and over Bear Den Mountain. We also wanted to see what Elk Pass would have to offer. First and foremost, this trail from Nippletop is a steep descent. The rocks and roots were also pretty slick in some spots. I will have you know that I wiped out twice. Did it hurt? Yes. Did it phase a warrior like myself? Of course not. Do be careful though because falling on rock is not pleasant and you could get injured if you fall in a steep section of the trail.

After descending for quite some time, you will pass a campsite area. There were some small wooden bridges built over the muddy and marshy ground. After passing over these, you will be able to view a pond to your left (will be on your right if you hike Nippletop via Elk Pass).

Pond going down Elk Pass Route
Pond seen while on Elk Pass

At this point, you will have gotten through most of the steep descent. Keep hiking and you will hit a sign where you have the option to hike Colvin (do not do unless you have significant time) or continue down. We continued down, passed some campsites, and eventually took the Gill Brook route. One should definitely take this trail down towards Lake Road. It is filled with small waterfalls and the moss under the running water gives the illusion that the water is turquoise. For a small brook, it was actually quite stunning. You can follow this trail until it meets up with Lake Road and at this point, you should be set. There is no need for me to explain anything else once you hit Lake Road.

Errors That I Made

I have hiked quite a few mountains, but I still do make occasional mistakes. One lapse of judgement that I had was that I should have packed more food. I had just enough food to be comfortable, but I would have liked to have a lot more with me. My second error, and a much larger one, was not staying hydrated enough. I had more than enough water, but I did not intake as much as I should have been. I suffered the consequences back at home when I had to deal with a terrible migraine. Always, always, always make sure you stay hydrated.

Gear

I brought the usual gear that I have posted about before. This time I left out the Canon camera as I wanted to carry more water. The main essentials I had this time were

  • Water
  • Food
  • First-Aid
  • Change of clothes (I always bring two pairs of everything)
  • Rain/wind resistant pants
  • Paracord
  • Carabiners
  • Bug-spray
  • Knife
  • Garbage bag (for myself and garbage I find along the trail)

Sidenotes

  • Dial Mountain sits at 4,020′
  • Nippletop Mountain sits at 4,620′
  • These mountains are best done in a loop
  • Make sure you give yourself enough time to hike these two mountains
  • After hiking, check out Noonmark Diner. The food there is very good, especially after being on your legs for many miles

RTW Note

My Road Trip Warriors, I hope this was helpful for those looking to climb Dial Mountain and Nippletop Mountain. Every mountain offers its own unique perspective of the surrounding landscape so I always encourage people to get out and climb. It is a great workout and it is much better than being cooped up inside. Also, to anyone reading this, I urge you to start bringing a small bag with you for trash. Now when I go hiking, if there is garbage along the trail I make sure to grab it. You should as well because it is crucial that we protect the environment. Enjoy your adventures and stay safe!

-Ant