Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Seneca and Spruce Mountains - Wilcox Lake Wild Forest - 1/5/19

My idea for a first hike in the new year was to find something new that I hadn't climbed before.  I pulled out my map and studied it for a bit and my eyes settled on the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest.  I haven't done much exploring there so I had lot of possibilities.  I decided to drive up past Stony Creek to Lens Lake Road and see if there was a place to park to hike one of the surrounding peaks.

The road was plowed past Lens Lake and almost to Middle Flow.  There was a parking lot at that location and the State Land boundary was right there.  I studied the map and opted to head for Seneca Mountain first.  


The end of the plowed road.

The followed the unplowed road until I reached the private property boundary.  I skirted left to stay on state land.  The woods were open hardwoods and a the bushwhack was easy.  It really wasn't much of a climb to reach the summit, perhaps 500-600' vertical.   Just as I was reaching the true summit, a large snowshoe hare leapt out from behind a rock and bounded off.  Rev took off in hot pursuit.   The hare quickly disappeared and Rev came trotting back.


The summit of Seneca Mountain.


From Seneca Lake, Great Sacandaga Lake in the distance.

I took a hot chocolate break and then opted to head for Spruce Mountain.   Rev and I bounded down the mountain until we reached Paul Creek.  The creek was larger than I expected and there was no way for us to cross and keep our feet dry.  We followed the creek a bit and then headed back towards the car.  At Middle Flow, I found a nice warm spot in the sun and took a break, soaking up some rays.  It felt so good I lingered for a bit.     


Middle Flow


Middle Flow


My warm sitting spot

While basking in the sun, I took another look at the map and determined I could climb Spruce Mountain by starting at the car and hiking straight East.  Paul Creek was no longer a factor.

Five minutes into this 2nd hike, I came to a small creek and saw a cairn in the water.  Looking around, I saw small orange paint blazes on the trees.  Someone had illegally cleared and marked a trail. Shortly afterwards, I saw a sign pointing back to the parking lot.   


Pointing back to where I started...

The orange blaze trail turned northward briefly before turning back eastward.  No doubt this trail was going to the summit.  Next I came to a junction... orange blaze and red blaze.  The orange continued eastward and upward, the red blaze were heading south traversing the slope of Spruce Mountain.  

I continued along the orange blaze path and soon reached a prominent viewpoint where I could see Lens Lake, Middle Flow, Livingston Lake and Great Sacandaga Lake.     


A nice viewpoint













Supplementing the orange blazes were cairns placed along the way.  The trail was not only blazed, but trees had been cut and trees had been de-limbed.  Someone had spent quite a bit of time making this trail.


One of many cairns


And even a few signs


This summit cairn was Leesa's height.
The illegal trail did not end at the summit, it continued northward down the north flank and towards  the unnamed peak a mile north of Spruce.  We followed the trail and ended up on the summit of the northern peak.


Summit of the unnamed peak north of Spruce Mountain.

Rather than return the way we came, we side-hilled he west slope of Spruce Mountain until we regained the orange blaze trail down low, not too far from the car.


Hike Stats:
Seneca Mountain & Return:  5.5 miles
Spruce Mountain & unnamed peak to the north and return:  5.8 miles
Total time  7.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~2000'  


The route


French Point Mountain and First Peak - Tongue Range - 1/1/2019

I had intended to hike elsewhere on New Year's Day, but when I woke up, there were some really interesting skies that made me think I should hike somewhere to try and capture some really cool pictures.  The Tongue Range in the Lake George Wild Forest immediately came to mind.

French Point Mountain and First Peak are the best viewpoints on the range, so that is where I headed.  After parking at Clay Meadows, I opted for the Northwest Bay Trail as opposed to the Five Mile Point Trail.  The Five Mile Point Trail is often icy, and it would be on this day.  I also didn't care to climb Fifth Peak.

The Northwest Bay Trail isn't that exciting, but it gives a jumping off point for a bushwhack to where I wanted to go.  The bushwhack starts 2 miles from the sign-in register.  As measured from the sign-in register once you turn onto the Northwest Bay Trail, there is a footbridge at 1mile, another at 1.75 miles and a 3rd one at the 2 mile mark.  These footbridges cross small drainages.  At the 2 mile drainage, there is also a large cairn about 100 feet up the drainage, that is visible from the trail.  Most likely someone built it to mark the logical point to begin a bushwhack!



The cairn 2 miles down the NW Bay Trail

The route is pretty easy from this location.  I chose to go up French Point Mountain first.  The interesting skies that I was hoping to catch had gone away but there is never a bad day on these peaks. 


Looking North.  Black Mountain on the right.

Most of the pics below are looking south  on Lake George, but from a few different viewpoints (and of course Rev gets in a few photos).  

After going down to to First Peak, I bushwhacked back the way I had come.  Rev could smell the scent and she took us back on the exact route we took on the way up.   









Surveying her territory...



The keeper of the lake...
















Most of the rock faces had ice flows

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  9.2 miles
Hike Time:  5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 2300'

The Route