Monday, July 11, 2011

Deer Brook Flume and Snow Mtn: 07/10/2011

Panorama of Noonmark and Dix Mountains from Snow Mtn. 

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

I keep a short list in my head of potential hikes to do with the kids. Some are hikes I've done before, but others are new to me. Snow Mountain fell into the latter category - I had known of the hike but had always bypassed it for bigger and (supposedly) better mountains. That was my loss, because it turns out that Snow Mountain has a superb view and an interesting trail that ascends alongside and sometimes through a beautiful brook chock full of waterfalls, pools and flumes.

One of many beautiful pools along Deer Brook

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'll remark that any kind of flowing water is a big hit with our kids. Since the first half of the hike (it's less than two miles to the summit) follows Deer Brook flume, I knew the kids would be hooked from the start. As a bonus, there's a large walk-in cave just before the trail leaves the flume at around the one-mile mark.

Entrance to the cave

Inside the cave's large main room

Although I took a bunch of pictures as we ascended Deer Brook, the photos didn't do justice to the beautiful pools, small waterfalls and cliffs. The trail is steep in places and requires scrambling over, around, and occassionally under the large boulders that fill the chasm. Daniel (age 7)was totally in his element and loved it. Sylvie (age 3) was content to be in the pack on my back, which was fortunate because it would have been virtually impossible for her to navigate the terrain under her own power.

Not long after the trail leaves the flume, a short side trail leads to a small waterfall

Sylvie + pack = 40 lbs, a good workout for me

Above the flume, the trail ascends at an easy grade, eventually reaching the summit at around 1.8 miles. Though it's easy hiking through beautiful woods, Daniel's energy and enthusiasm faded, and he had to be coaxed to the top. It's no wonder, as the total ascent is nearly 1400 vertical feet in just under 2 miles.

Summit ledges

Blueberry reward at the summit

The only real challenge in the upper half of the trail is some short sections of ledge scrambling just below the summit. As the trail emerges into open areas near the summit, there are plentiful blueberry bushes. On the far side of the summit, rocky ledges provide excellent views of the surrounding peaks. It's amazing how high up the summit feels for only 2400' in elevation.

Giant Mountain and Chapel Pond Pass

Noonmark and the Dix range

If you are considering doing this hike with children, keep in mind the scrambling in Deer Brook flume and the total vertical ascent of 1400 feet. For their ages, our kids are pretty accomplished hikers, but this proved to be strenuous for Daniel. But if your kids can handle the challenge, or if you're considering this hike as an adult, it's an interesting route to an often overlooked summit with great views.

Heading back down

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