Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hackensack Mtn: 07/19/2014

Hackensack Mountain, Warrensburg NY, July 19, 2014.

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

Saturday morning the kids and I had a window of a couple hours to fit in a hike. Hackensack Mountain in Warrensburg fit the bill perfectly. Even though the summit is lower than many High Peaks trailheads (just 1,357'), Hackensack's got a lot to offer: an interesting trail network, easy access, and a great view from the summit.

Though locals have been climbing the mountain for years, the trail system was recently (2011) formalized with trail markers, trailhead parking, and an informational brochure and map. If you're wondering about the origin of the mountain's name (I was expecting some obscure connection to the New Jersey town of the same name), the brochure explains that the name derives from an Algonquin word that means "place where two rivers come together" (the Hudson and the Schroon).

The trail starts out at an easy grade

Steeper sections below the summit are eroded

Approaching the summit ledges

There are two primary trailheads. I flipped a coin and chose the northern (Warren Street) trailhead for our hike. The route climbs at a gentle grade through a nice pine and hemlock forest at first, but steepens in the second half of the climb. Hackensack may be a small mountain, but there's still 600 vertical feet of climbing to the summit. Some of the steep sections are eroded down to bedrock, but our kids still declared the hike "easy."

Warrensburg and the Three Sisters from the summit ledges

Attractive woods on the summit ridge

The summit is quite nice. A broad ledge provides views to the west, with Crane Mountain in the distance. The village of Warrensburg lays at the foot of the mountain and beyond lie the Three Sisters (home to Hickory Ski Center) and the confluence of the Schroon and Hudson rivers.

Large grassy area just above the American flag

The American flag overlook

The trail continues past the summit through attractive woods across the top of the mountain and through several open areas that provide additional views to the south and west. Wildflowers and grass filled many of the open areas. As the trail begins to descend, a large open area is reached where an American flag hangs from a makeshift flagpole, visible from town.

Open meadow just above the flag overlook

The summit was quite crowded when we passed through on our way back down, including some guys who had set up a ham radio transmitter (you can see the antenna wire)

The flag was our turnaround point and we re-traced our route back to our car, but the trail network allows for the hike to be done as a loop. Next time we hike Hackensack, we'll do it from the southern (Prospect Street) trailhead. Some recent logging had disturbed the middle section of the route we took, so I wonder if the southern approach might be nicer. The southern approach also passes near the former town ski center, Blister Hill, which closed in the late 1970s. The slopes have been reclaimed by the forest, but the old rope tow mechanism can still be found in the woods. Jeremy Davis' book Lost Ski Areas of the Southern Adirondacks chronicles Blister Hill's short but interesting history (the ski hill lasted less than 10 years), along with nearly 40 other lost Adirondack ski areas.

Some of our trail-side finds:

Hiking Hackensack was somewhat reminiscent of Mount Baker in Saranac Lake. Both have short, well used trails to the summit and are located close to town, making it easy for residents to use the trails frequently. Unlike most Adirondack hikes, the towns are visible from the summits, so hikers feel a real connection to the town. It's interesting that the hiker is reminded that the Adirondacks is a place with people and towns, not just woods and lakes and mountains. Both are good.


  1. My mother grew up on First Ave. in Warrensburg, and when I was like 5 years old, my grandfather took me up Hackensack Mt. My first ADK summit. Haven't been there in a few years, now I have to get back! Thanks for the memories!

    1. That's great Peter! Did you also ski at Blister Hill? You'll have to get back to Hackensack, I'd be curious to hear what you think of the new trail network there.

  2. Based on your post, we took our nearly 4 year old granddaughter on her first hike to Hackensack. We all had a great time. Nice easy hike with a lovely view from the summit.

  3. I did Hackensack a couple weeks ago. Thanks for turning me onto it.

  4. Thanks for reading, Darrin! Looks like you did Hackensack via the southern trail, I'll have to try that next time. Nice write-up on ilsnow!