Thursday, August 17, 2017

Blue Mountain: 08/13/2017

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

We've knocked off plenty of the Adirondack "low peaks" on our family hikes over the past few years, but for some unknown reason we never got around to hiking Blue Mountain. With stunning lake and mountain views and a relatively easy ascent, Blue delivers a lot of bang for the buck.

Blue Mountain gets its fair share of traffic, but wooden bridges and rock steps stabilize many of the sections that would otherwise be prone to erosion. Other sections of the trail are worn down to sidewalk-smooth bedrock. The bottom line is that 1500+ vertical feet of climbing goes by pretty quickly, at least by Adirondack standards.

Sylvie on one of the sections of wood bridges

Rockhopping one of the rougher sections

Smooth bedrock, Blue Mountain Lake

Views back towards Blue Mountain Lake begin to open up in the upper reaches, and before long the summit fire tower comes into view. There’s a broad, open area at the summit, but the best views are found by climbing the 5 flights of open steps to the tiny cabin at the top of the tower. From the cabin you get a 360-degree view of the surrounding lakes and the High Peaks 25 miles to the northeast.

Beth approaching the summit fire tower

View from the tower cabin

Blue Mtn Lake - Eagle Lake - Utowana Lake - Racquette Lake

Tirrell Pond with the High Peaks in the distance

We got a bit of a surprise while we were eating our lunches at the summit when another family group arrived, walked over and said “Hi Jeff!” It turned out to be friends from back in my Schenectady ADK days who were hiking with their 7-year old foster daughter, who they've nicknamed “Little Wren” in the frequent articles they write for the Times Union’s Outdoors column (here’s a recent one I chuckled over: Paddling Misadventures All Part of the Journey). LW and our daughter Sylvie made great hiking pals on the way back down – one of the best ways to make sure kids have fun on a hike is to have them bring a friend along.

Summit pano

Heading back down

This was the first time I’d hiked Blue Mountain in nearly 25 years. Back in the early ‘90s we’d snowshoe up the hiking trail and ski the old jeep road down the backside. It’s where I linked together some of my first telemark turns on skinny, metal edged cross-country skis and leather boots. I don’t remember if the jeep road was posted back then (it’s mostly on private land once you get about a quarter mile below the summit), but it sure is now. In fact, the jeep road is more like a highway these days, after a controversial reconstruction / expansion last summer (you can read about the roadway controversy here).

The "improved" roadway. That's a lot of gravel.

But don’t let the roadway, antennae (there are 2 large towers) and associated communications equipment deter you from hiking Blue – the views are worth it despite the summit development. After the hike we recommend a swim at the town beach on Blue Mountain Lake and ice cream at the Blue Mountain Livery.

By the numbers: Summit elevation 3759. 1550 vertical foot ascent. 2.0 miles each way.

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