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Adirondack Explorer

Monday, September 28, 2009

Revisiting Lyon Mountain


The view of Chazy Lake from the ledges on Lyon Mountain. Photo by Phil Brown.

Last weekend I climbed Lyon Mountain, the 3,830-foot peak west of Dannemora. What a great view! I had been up it a few times before but not since the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) rerouted the trail.

The old trail was an old jeep road that shot straight up the mountain. It was a rubbly mess. The new trail switchbacks up the eastern face, so gradually that at times you hardly realize you’re climbing. At 3.3 miles, the rerouted trail is about a mile longer than the old one, but it’s much easier on the knees.

In fact, the trail is so user-friendly that a strong trail runner could probably jog up it. I didn’t try that, but I did jog on the way down, and it was exhilarating.

Another change is that the fire tower on the summit has been refurbished. From the cab, you can see in all directions: the High Peaks to the southwest, the Champlain Valley and the Green Mountains to the east, and the St. Lawrence River to the north. Chazy Lake is spread out at the foot of the mountain. The view also now encompasses the huge wind farms just outside the Adirondack Park.

Kudos to ADK for redesigning the trail. And to the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, which bought Lyon Mountain from Domtar Industries in 2004 and sold it to the state in 2008.

Word must be getting out about Lyon (our publisher, Tom Woodman,wrote the new trail in the January issue of the Explorer), because there were more than 20 cars at the trailhead when I began my climb on Saturday afternoon–many of them from Quebec.

Directions: From the village of Dannemora, drive 9.3 miles east on NY 374 to Chazy Lake Road. Turn left and go 1.7 miles to a dirt road on the right. Follow the dirt road nearly a mile to its end. If coming from the south, turn onto Chazy Lake Road from NY 3 in the hamlet of Saranac and follow it 9.6 miles to the dirt road. (Chazy Lake road takes a left turn at 0.5 mles and a right turn at 2.4 miles, the latter at a four-way intersection.)

Phil Brown

Contributor Phil Brown was editor of the Adirondack Explorer from 1999-2018. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Phil! My name is Judith Scarl and I’m the director of a high-elevation citizen science bird monitoring program called Mountain Birdwatch- we monitor montane songbirds in NY, VT, NH, ME, and now into Canada.

    One of our monitoring routes is on Lyon Mountain, and I agree with your assessment of the new trail- fantastic and gentle! I had a great morning up there yesterday- listening to the thrushes, warblers, sparrows, and chickadees. I’m based in Vermont and mostly survey routes in the Greens, so it was a treat for me to get out to the ADKs!

    I have a question about access to this mountain and I’m hoping you might have the answer! A team of our technicians went out and set our new monitoring route on Lyon last year (describing each point, taking GPS coordinates of each point) and as I mentioned, I conducted the bird survey this year. All of the points are along the top section of the new trail except for one- point 5 is northwest of the lookout tower by about 200 meters. The technicians describe this point as being at the intersection of the hiking trail to the east and a potential old Jeep road, with an open, circular clearing to the south of the point. When I was up there, it seemed that the hiking trail ended at the lookout tower, and I couldn’t find any trails or roads heading north or west from there. Do you know of any abandoned roads on this mountain other than the original trail from the east? Does the trail from the east continue past the lookout tower and intersect with another trail or road?

    Thanks for your help, Phil, and happy hiking!


    Judith Scarl

  2. Phil Brown says:

    Judith, the original trail to the summit was an old jeep road that went more or less straight up the mountain. The new trail takes a more meandering route and joins the jeep trail just below the summit. I have heard that DEC planned to reroute the top portion of the trail as well, but I don’t know if that has happened yet.

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