Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mount Jo: 10/08/2012

Somehow, even though it's at the top of just about everyone's list of best short hikes, we had never gotten around to hiking Mount Jo, the small (2,876') peak with a panoramic, close-up view of the High Peaks. With near-peak foliage and the season's first coating of snow, our hike on Monday lived up to Mount Jo's reputation.

Heart Lake, Mount Colden, the MacIntyre Range and Indian Pass from Mount Jo.

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Snow coats the High Peaks, viewed from Adirondack Loj Road Sunday morning

Mount Jo has two trails that lead to its summit, the Long Trail (1.3 miles each way) and the Short Trail (1.1 miles each way), both starting near the High Peaks Information Center at the Adirondack Mountain Club's Heart Lake property, just outside of Lake Placid. Though steeper, the Short Trail is generally considered to be better maintained, and is the route we took. With lots of exploring by our kids, it took us around an hour to cover the 700' vertical climb to the summit; experienced adult hikers will probably do it in around 40 minutes.

The Short Trail is moderately steep and quite rocky, but short enough our kids had no difficulty with the hike

There’s still lots of color at the lower elevations

Although foliage in the Lake Placid region generally seemed to be just past peak, there was still plenty of color left at the lower elevations. But the real visual treat was the coating of white from Sunday night’s 3 - 4 inches of snow that fell above 3000’. That combination of snow and fall foliage – snowliage – produces some of the most dramatic scenery the Adirondacks have to offer.

Mount Colden


Algonquin, viewed from one of the outlooks partway up Mount Jo

Mount Jo was named by Henry VanHoevenberg in 1877 for Josephine Schofield, his fiance. Van Hoevenberg was the orignal owner and developer of the Heart Lake property. Although it's unclear what became of Josephine (according to some accounts she became sick and died), the two never married.

Heart Lake, the MacIntyre Range and Indian Pass

Mount Jo is a popular hike, so you’re not likely to have the trail or the summit all to yourself. Keep in mind that Adirondack Loj is the most popular and heavily used trailhead in the High Peaks region, sometimes filling to capacity on weekends and holidays. In fact, although we had no trouble getting a parking spot on Monday, the attendant at the HPIC told me that the lot was full as of 8am the day before.

Hikers taking in the view from Mount Jo’s summit ledges

The hike is short enough that we were done by 1pm. That left plenty of time for an afternoon of rock climbing with the kids at one of my favorite beginner crags a few miles away. I’ll post a report from that in the next couple of days.


  1. Great photos and story. Reminds me of our trip with our daughter up there a few years ago. I didn't know how Mount Jo got its name. Gotta go back.