Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hadley Mountain: 06/15/2013

Hadley Mountain fire tower, 05/15/2013.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
Lately it's been impossible to string together two days of decent weather, so when last weekend's forecast called for sunny skies on Saturday and rain on Sunday, we scheduled our Fathers' Day hike to take place a day early. The overflowing parking lot at the trailhead confirmed that we weren’t the only ones looking to take advantage of the beautiful weather, and served as a reminder that Hadley is one of the most popular hikes in the southern Adirondacks.

Hadley Mountain and its firetower have an interesting history. The tower was constructed in 1917 and was among the first to be built of steel. Aerial surveillance eventually made the firetower obsolete, and by the 1980s the Hadley tower and dozens like it throughout the Adirondacks were slated for removal as non-conforming structures.

View to the north from Hadley's summit

While many towers were ultimately removed, local grass-roots support groups formed to save some of the firetowers as historic and educational resources. The Hadley Mountain Fire Tower Committee was among the earliest groups to organize, and in the mid- ‘90s the fire tower was restored. In recent summers the fire tower committee has co-sponsored a summit steward with the DEC.

Exploring the stream alongside Hadley's trail

Hiking in opposite directions - they both made it to the summit anyway

One of the level stretches along Hadley's summit ridge

Daniel found a nice group of pink lady slippers on the summit ridge
The trail up Hadley is just under 2 miles each way, with 1500 vertical feet of climbing. Like most families with young kids, our limiting factor is the stamina and ability of our youngest, and Hadley was a good fit for our 5 and a half year old. The first mile is a steady climb through deep woods. A seasonal stream – flowing nicely from all the recent rain – runs alongside the trail. Views open up in the second mile, as the trail ascends a ridge with alternating level sections and moderate grades. As usual, our kids loved the discovery of various plants, wildflowers, amphibians and water features along the way as much as the view from the summit. The firetower and observer’s cabin were a bonus.

A trailside find

Daniel and Sylvie cross one of the open areas just below the summit

Approaching the summit

Sylvie climbing the firetower
The views from Hadley’s summit are outstanding whether you climb the tower or not. Great Sacandaga Lake is prominent to the southwest. Gore and Snowy are visible to the north, with some of the High Peaks visible beyond. The peaks that surround Lake George are visible to the east. At the recommendation of the summit steward, we followed herd paths leading north from the summit for several hundred yards to a beautiful rock outcropping with views to the north.

Looking out over Great Sacandaga Lake


View from the rock outcropping a few hundred yards north of Hadley's summit

If you’re interested in more firetower hikes, pick up Views from on High, a guidebook to 28 firetower hikes in the Adirondacks and Catskills. The author, Jack Freeman, is the founder of the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower Committee. You might also be interested in completing the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Fire Tower Challenge by climbing at least 18 (out of 23) Adirondack firetower summits and 5 Catskill firetower summits.


  1. Jeff,
    Thanks for the uplifting posts.
    The wife and I have hiked all 23 + 5 towers. There has been a late arrival, Loon Lake Mountain in Vermontville is now public access making 24 fire towers within the park.
    Steve B

    1. Thanks for reading. I hadn't known about Loon Lake Mtn, so thanks for the update Steve.