An overlooked peak in Keene Valley
By Cal Seeley
Knob Lock Mountain, praised by ice climbers, is a relatively unknown peak among hikers. With no established trail and with Hurricane Mountain right across the road, this peak is overlooked, but not to be missed.
As a disclaimer, bushwhacking requires key navigational skills learned through hands-on practice. A knowledge of a map and compass, GPS and phone tracking, as well as a backup plan if batteries die, and a thorough packing list are essential. Plan to move slower and more thoughtfully.
That being said, this hike is an excellent introduction to travel unmarked trails. The topography is simple, with a little difficulty near the top. A brook pouring from a col between Tripod Mountain and Knob Lock acts as a handrail, a term describing a geographic feature that bushwhackers use as a reference point to keep themselves on track. The forest is beautiful and relatively open, save for the car-wash krummholz near the open summit.
A lightly traveled path does exist, but it is a true definition of a herd path. Recent blowdowns or falling leaves could easily obscure the trail, making it difficult to follow. Be prepared to lose the trail.
To park, head 0.3 miles east of the Hurricane Mountain trailhead on route 9N, and park on the northern shoulder of the road. Look for two small green posts on the north side of the road, cross the road and head into the woods from there and immediately cross two streams. From here the path should be straightforward. After a few minutes, with the brook immediately on your right, the trail steeply switches back on the left bank of the brook.
Now at a moderately steep grade, the trail bends below a short, wet rock wall. Soon after, a waterfall is heard off to the right. This is Knob Lock Falls, a small but beautiful two-stepped cascade with a steep wall on the left.
After the falls, the trail is direct as it weaves through the occasional cedar or spruce stand until it reaches the col between Tripod and Knob Lock. The trail contours to the east around the summit cone of Knob Lock, descending slightly. A herd path leading steeply downhill from here leads to the base of a recently explored rock climbing area. To avoid this, head up to the left, following a rock wall.
Extra care is needed from here. The trees, in true Adirondack fashion, shrink and cluster together, making hiking difficult. Persist, and eventually the first rock dome is reached, leading to an open rocky ridge with amazing views in all directions.
Knob Lock Bushwhack
- Summit Elevation: 3,206 feet
- Elevation gain: ~1,500 feet
- Mileage (roundtrip): 3 miles
Sign up for the “Backcountry Journal” newsletter, sending trip ideas, recreation news, wildlife stories and more on Thursdays