Friday, August 16, 2013

Mt. Baker: 08/12/2013

Mount Baker, one of the Saranac 6ers and one of the best views in the Adirondacks for the least effort.

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Located just outside the village of Saranac Lake, Mount Baker is one of the shortest and easiest family hikes that we've done. It's so short that we wouldn't have driven all the way to Saranac just for this hike, but we are staying in Lake Placid for the week and Mount Baker fit perfectly for a half-day family hike. Don't let the easy rating fool you: the summit ledges offer excellent view of the mountains and lakes around Saranac Lake as well as the High Peaks beyond. At least two dozen summits are visible.

View of McKenzie Pond and the High Peaks beyond from Mt. Baker's summit ledges

Picking blueberries along the trail

The trail is just under a mile each way, but it is quite steep, with 900' of climbing to the 2,452' summit. Blueberry bushes line the trail and ledges below the summit. It's a bit past prime blueberry season, but our kids still found a few berries that the birds and other hikers had missed.

The trail is steep and rocky in a few places but nothing that a 5-year-old can't handle

The view from the summit is quite interesting and offers a different perspective of the High Peaks than other peaks we've hiked in the Keene Valley and Lake Placid area. Ampersand Mountain and other peaks of the northern Adirondacks are visible beyond Lake Flower, Oseetah Lake and Saranac Lake village, which lie at the foot of Mount Baker. Island-studded Lower Saranac Lake lies beyond.

Ampersand Mountain, Kiawassa Lake and Lower Saranac Lake in the distance

McKenzie Pond, with 3,800' McKenzie Mountain (left) and Haystack Mountain (right)

Mount Baker has long been a popular hike, but it seems to be gaining even more attention recently with the establishment of the Saranac Lake 6ers challenge. To complete the challenge, hikers climb the 6 mountains that surround Saranac Lake: Baker, Ampersand, McKenzie, Haystack, St. Regis and Scarface. Baker is the easiest, McKenzie is the hardest. I don't know that we'll necessarily do all 6 peaks, but the Saranac 6er challenge seems to be a good fit for family hiking.