Sound interesting? I thought so too. I’ll get to the cabin in a moment, but first the hike. The Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserve is a 1,850 acre parcel near Bolton Landing, recently (2003) acquired by the Lake George Land Conservancy to protect the watersheds of Edgecomb Pond (Bolton Landing’s drinking water source) and Lake George. A seven mile trail network on the preserve allows hikers to enjoy magnificent views of Lake George and the southern Adirondacks from the open summits of both peaks. Although the elevations of Cat and Thomas Mountains are relatively low (both top out at just over 2000 feet in elevation), there is an impressive amount of vertical relief due to the low elevation of the lake itself (350’ above sea level).
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Our hike on Monday, Labor Day, was a short out-and-back trek with the kids to the summit of Thomas Mountain, following the route indicated on the map above as the "Orange Trail." The trail, a former logging road / jeep road, is rocky and eroded in places but provides a relatively easy ascent to the summit of Thomas, gaining around 700 vertical feet over 1.5 miles.
The vista at the summit extends nearly 180 degrees, from the southern basin of Lake George and the peaks on its eastern shoreline, to Crane and Gore Mountains in the west. Besides the great views, there are loads of blueberry bushes (no berries for us: it’s long past blueberry season). A 6.5 mile loop can be hiked by continuing from the summit of Thomas Mountain over Cat Mountain and back to the trailhead.
I’ve mentioned before that when we consider hikes to do with our young kids, we look for more than “just” a summit with a view. In this case, the added interest for our kids (and us too) came in the form of the wonderful cabin perched just back from the edge of the summit cliffs. The cabin is in excellent condition and is open for visitors to use (overnight use is not allowed). We all ate lunch in the loft of the cabin, and then explored around the summit ledges before retracing our steps back tothe trailhead via the jeep road.
Now, back to the Cabin For Sale. The Thomas Mountain cabin was built around 20 years ago, while the parcel was in private hands, by a developer who used it to demonstrate the scenic potential of the site to prospective buyers. When the LGLC acquired the parcel in 2003, the cabin was already in place. It’s future, however, is uncertain. Although the cabin is a great structure in a beautiful spot, it is a maintenance and liability burden. Furthermore, possible transfer of the Cat and Thomas Preserve from the Lake George Land Conservancy to the State of New York is more easily accomplished without the cabin, which would be considered a non-conforming structure by the state. As of 2008, the LGLC was accepting bids for purchase of the cabin. The purchaser would then be required to remove the cabin from the mountaintop, a logistically challenging proposition given the inaccessibility of the site. Personally, I’d like to see a solution worked out that would allow the cabin to remain. In the meantime, the cabin remains a great destination for a short hike close to home, whether you’re a kid or an adult.
More information on the Lake George Land Conservancy can be found at: LGLC.org
* * * Edited July 2012: An alternate trail to the summit of Thomas has recently been marked. For a report on hiking the new blue trail, click here.