Easy jaunts for getting into the hiking groove during mud season
By Sierra McGivney
Hiking in spring can have its rewards, even if it’s messy at times. The views of a defrosted Adirondack forest is well worth the hike. Flowers and trees bloom for miles to see. In higher elevations distinctive alpine plants will begin to grow. Be careful not to step on them, they are fragile. Oh and what’s that I hear? Not the buzzing of blackflies, that’s for June.
I’ve put together a list of some great spring hikes that can be found in different parts of the park. But before you decorate yourself in mud like a warrior, don’t forget to read up on NYS DEC’s mud season advisory and check the outdoor conditions (updated weekly).
Snow Mountain is the perfect hike to get amazing views of the high peaks without actually hiking them. This 3.4 mile round trip hike is great for families, beginners or as a first-of-the-season hike. The trailhead is located right off of route 73 in Keene Valley, past the flume trails. In this article Tom Woodman and Larry Master brave a river crossing and bushwack(optional) for views of wildflowers and birds.
Baxter Mountain is a 3-mile round trip moderate, family-friendly hike. Located right off of Route 9N in Keene, this is a great spring hike. Views of the surrounding mountains and valleys can be seen from the top as well as on the way up from lookouts. For early spring hiking or late spring refreeze, microspikes are a must. The upper section of the hike features mild rock scrambles. Wild flowers peek out during the spring months along the trail.
Located in the heart of the Ha-de-ron-dah Wilderness, Middle Settlement Lake is a 6.5 mile round trip hike. The trailhead is located off of route 28 in Old Forge. The trail features a creek and lake. There is little elevation gain, which makes this hike perfect for beginners or trail runners. Don’t be surprised if you aren’t the only hiker on the weekend.
Split Rock Mountain has it all: rattlesnakes, bobcats, eagles, and peregrine falcons and the scene of a marital murder, a mining tragedy, and Revolutionary War intrigue. Split Rock has 11 miles of marked trails offering views of Lake Champlain. Beware of wet trails in the spring. Wear good hiking shoes. Located near Westport, this mountain offers a break from the business surrounding the high peaks region. In this article David Thomas-Train, a guidebook author ventures out on to the northern part of the Split Rock Mountain trail. As he hikes through woods he meanders through the history behind each sight.
Hiking into Pharaoh lake is a lengthy but relatively flat 7.5 miles to the lake. The trail starts as an olds woods road decorated with sugar maples and abandoned farms. Soon hikers delve deeper into the woods and the trail becomes dark and swampy (especially in the spring).
The photo is from the fall but the hike can be done anytime of the year. The hike doesn’t actually go to its namesake landmark, a hill with cliffs near the shoreline of the lake. Instead the 0.8-mile trail goes to some viewpoints on Record Hill, which is east of Anthony’s Nose. This is done intentionally, so hikers won’t disturb the peregrine falcons that nest there.
‘Short Hikes’ series of guidebooks
Check out our own series of guidebooks
that showcase short hikes around the region.