Bald Mountain may be the region’s most popular summit, but I prefer Black Bear Mountain located between Eagle Bay and Inlet.
At 2,445 feet, Black Bear is the tallest of the six mountains described in 12 Short Hikes. Reaching the summit requires 660 feet of elevation gain over two miles. In comparison, you gain 410 feet over 0.9 miles when climbing Bald.
The extra height and extra distance is a big reason why you’re more likely to find solitude and tranquility on Black Bear. To me, that’s a big plus.
I also find Black Bear’s partially wooded summit more beautiful than Bald’s rocky spine. Black Bear has plenty of open rock, too, but you have to walk around to discover all the lookouts. That’s part of the fun. The views include West Mountain and other peaks in the Pigeon Lake Wilderness, Raquette Lake, Blue Mountain, and Fourth Lake in the Fulton Chain.
The hike begins at the large pull-off on Route 28. Hike 0.7 miles to a junction, bear right, and follow blue markers to the summit. The steepest climbing comes near the end.
BLACK BEAR DIRECTIONS: From the Visitor Information Center in Old Forge, drive east on NY 28 for 10.5 miles to a large pull-off on the left. This is the parking area for both Rocky Mountain and Black Bear Mountain. If coming from the opposite direction, the pull-off is a mile past the junction of NY 28 and South Shore Road in downtown Inlet. N 43° 45.889’, W 74° 47.662