True to Part Two of The Adirondack Kids® mission - to encourage young people to set down their devices and explore the great outdoors - here are five Adirondack fire tower mountains we think families would enjoy hiking together! And it is not necessary to ascend the towers to get a great view!
Azure Mountain – between Santa Clara & Paul Smiths, NY
The Azure Mountain trailhead is located along an unpaved road between Paul Smiths and Santa Clara. The drive will be slow, but once you arrive it is only a two-mile hike round trip. Enjoy views of the high peaks wilderness including Mt. Marcy and Whiteface Mountain along with the St Regis Canoe area. July of 2018 was the 100th anniversary of the fire tower on Azure. Weather permitting volunteer interpreters from The Azure Mountain Friends are said to serve on the summit weekends from May to October.*
Bald Mountain – Old Forge, NY
Another two-hour round trip from the trailhead, the parking area for this popular mountain is located on Rondaxe Road just 4 miles northeast from Old Forge, NY. There are tremendous views from a number of lookouts before even reaching the summit. Once at the top there is a commanding view of First to Fourth Lakes of the Fulton Chain of Lakes.
Owls Head – Long Lake, NY
This hike is a bit more ambitious with a 6.2 mile hike round trip. The trailhead can be found approximately 1.5 miles along the Endion Road which is just off Route 30 headed North out of Long Lake. We have taken several church youth groups up this mountain. Bodies of water viewed out on the sprawling Adirondack landscape include Owls Head Pond along with Raquette and Forked Lakes.
Poke-O-Moonshine – Keeseville, NY
It was in 2017 this mountain celebrated the 100th anniversary of tis tower. And a lot of work has been done at this site since I (Gary) hiked it nearly a decade ago. There are two trailheads. The Ranger Trail is shorter but is steep and is a 2.4-mile round trip. The Observer Trail is a longer round trip at 4.8 miles, but ascends more gently and has interpretive signage along the way. The two trails are just one mile apart along US9. Traveling south from Exit 33 of the Northway (I-87) for 3 miles you will come to the Ranger Trail first. Another mile and arrive at the Observer Trail. From the summit you can see Lake Champlain and the Adirondack High Peaks region. Also see the Green Mountains of neighboring Vermont.
Snowy Mountain – Indian Lake, NY
Another more ambitious hike is Snowy Mountain. This is a 7.2 mile round trip and the most challenging among those listed here. The trailhead is located roadside on NY 30 some 7.3 miles south of Indian Lake Village and 17.4 miles north of Speculator.* Adirondack high peaks can be observed from this summit and Indian Lake below. Many people ask what kind of shape one needs to be in to hike such mountains. We always recommend checking with one’s doctor for any needed advice and a green light before engaging in strenuous activity. We have taken several groups of young teens up Snowy and on one trip met a man who as slight of build on the summit and learned he was 81 years old! And this was just one year after having a hip replacement! He said he was a widower and after his operation worked out on a stationary bicycle and there he was, on the summit of Snowy, enjoying the view of Indian Lake. His name was Joe and he was from Utica, NY. “Joe,” I told him, “you are my hero!”
*We heartily recommend the brand new Second Edition of Views from on High: Fire Tower Trails in the Adirondacks and Catskills. By John P. Freeman and Jim Schneider, this comprehensive trail guide contains maps, direction, full color photos and detailed trail descriptions of all the Fire Towers in the region.
Could climbing a mountain help someone overcome such a fear? The Adirondack Kids think so! Read all about it in The Adirondack Kids® #2: Rescue on Bald Mountain.
Snowy in the Fall. Not all of our family adventures involve research for our stories. This was one of a number of our mountain hikes over many years merely for the fun of it! Gary & Justin on the summit of Snowy Mountain.
© 2018 Adirondack Kid Press, Ltd.