I headed to the Adirondacks for a short trip in mid-September and was able to do some hiking in addition to some other commitments during the trip. The last day of summer was spent in Cranberry Lake, my first time there. Cranberry Lake definitely has a quiet, lakeside town feel compared to some of the more bustling towns in the region. The trails are low-traffic, and the lake is pristine. The foliage was just starting to change, and it appeared that it was shaping up to be an outstanding foliage year.
I hiked Bear Mountain, a smaller mountain, four miles round trip in length. This trail starts at the Cranberry Lake campground and climbs nearly 1,000 feet, but gently so, through a deciduous forest. There are no views from the actual summit, but heading a little ways past there are two gorgeous viewpoints of the lake. This trail can be done as a loop, but at the suggestion of the woman at that campground check-in booth, I did it as an out and back (apparently the trail is in bad shape past the viewpoint). I didn’t see anyone else on this trail at all. On the drive back down the hill to Rt 3, I could see glimpses of the sun setting over the lake through the trees and cottages. I definitely plan to return to this area and explore more.
For numerous reasons, I haven’t hiked a Adirondack high peak in some time, my last being Big slide nearly two years ago. I’ve really enjoyed exploring many of the other mountains that the region has to offer, but I decided it was time to get back to the high peaks. Since I had limited time on that day, I chose a redo of Cascade Mountain; it’s relative ease made a good choice to reacclimate myself , and I was looking forward to its amazing 360 degree summit views. It happened to be the first day of fall, and also a weekday (meaning less crowds), and I figured this would be a great way to start the new season. Rain was predicted that day, but after checking multiple forecasts, I was pretty sure it was going to hold off until later in the afternoon. It didn’t. Started raining about a mile in and by the time I reached the summit it was completely socked in, no views whatsoever. It was so windy on the summit I thought that my phone would blow out of my hand while I was taking pictures. On the way down the rain became much heavier, turning the trail into a stream. Lots of fungi out on the trail, and I took my time heading back down to look at it all. One of my poles got stuck somewhere on the way and is now permanently bent. Not what I was hoping for exactly, but any day in the Adirondacks is still a good day. It has been at least five years since I’ve last done this hike and there have been numerous improvement to the trail; it was in pretty decent shape considering the amount of traffic that it sees.
The next day, I woke up to 30 degree temps and the first snowfall of the season. Took a day off from hiking, but was able to do some kayaking on Mirror Lake later in the afternoon when the sun came out and the temperature rose above 40. Also hit up the Mountaineer bookstore in Keene (I could spend hours here).
The final hike of this trip was Big Crow, one of the Lake Placid 9er hikes, and also a new to me hike. I’ve done more than half of the Lake Placid 9 and have loved every one. While mostly shorter, easier hikes by Adirondack standards, they are still challenging, and every one that I complete seems to have nicer views than the previous. The drive up to the trailhead was a winding dirt road up a hill with barely enough room for two cars to get through. These roads make me anxious for whatever reason. Being that it was now Saturday the parking area was also jammed, but I managed to snag a space. Other hikes, including Hurricane Mountain, also start from this trailhead. Big Crow is a short 1.5 mile round trip hike, but it is not easy. The trail starts out climbing gradually, but quickly gets very steep and doesn’t let up. There is a steep section of open rock face to scale near the top as well. The views from the summit however are amazing, in fact you can see 28 high peaks from here. I can’t think of another trail this short with such views. And lucky for me that unlike the days before, it was sunny with perfect hiking temperatures, I great end to my trip.
– Nicole Pane