Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Spruce Mountain: 10/18/2015

View from Spruce Mountain's fire tower, Sunday 10/18/2015.

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

Saratoga County has a new hiking trail. Earlier this month the Department of Environmental Conservation announced the opening of a 1.2 mile trail up Spruce Mountain in Corinth, a 2000’ summit with a newly restored fire tower. We hiked the new trail on Sunday, and got our first taste of winter at the same time with temperatures in the 20s and 30s and pockets of snow on the ground.

The trailhead literally straddles the Blue Line – the Adirondack Park boundary – and once you begin hiking there’s little doubt that you’re in the Adirondacks. The trail starts climbing right away, and it’s more than a thousand vertical feet to the top. But the trail is laid out well (it was built by the Adirondack Mountain Club’s professional trail crew), and the grade rarely feels steep.

Signing in

The trail climbs at a moderate grade through nice woods

This oak must have been 4' in diameter

Most of the trail remains on Forest Preserve land, passing through stands of impressively large white pines, oaks, maples and beech. Near the top, perhaps a quarter mile below the summit, the trail crosses land that was recently acquired by Saratoga PLAN and is recovering from decades of active logging. The newly acquired parcel provides access to Spruce Mountain’s fire tower, which was refurbished this summer by crews from the Student Conservation Association.

Still some decent color

Recently logged land not far below the summit

Pockets of snow pellets, aka graupel

Beth and the kids approaching the tower

The tower was originally erected in 1928, and at 73’ it’s one of the tallest in the Adirondacks. Without the tower there’d be no view, but from the top there’s a superb panorama that takes in the northern Catskills, Lake George, Vermont and the southern Adirondacks. Snow squalls obscured some the distant views for our hike on Sunday but made for a dramatic scene with the bright remaining autumn foliage.

The 73' tall fire tower

Snow squalls and what's left of the fall foliage

If you decide to hike Spruce, be aware that the trail will be closed to public use during big game hunting season beginning Saturday, October 24. The trail will re-open the first Monday in December. New trails are always great, but it's especially nice to have a short, highly rewarding, family-friendly hike like this so close to home. The drive took us 30 minutes from the far side of Saratoga, and the hike itself was 2.5 hours car-to-car, including a decent amount of time at the summit.

Thanks go out to Saratoga PLAN, the Adirondack Mountain Club and their professional trail crew, the Student Conservation Association, DEC and Lyme Adirondack Timberlands.

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