Crane Mountain is one of those special places. Where else in the Adirondacks can you find a high plateau that boasts a mountain pond and a rugged peak both on top of the plateau? The area is contained within the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest and lies minutes northwest of Warrensburg, NY. Don’t be fooled though. You’ll need a map to find the area and the road to access the trailhead, Sky Hi Road, turns to gravel and climbs to 2000 before ending. The last .4 miles is not plowed in winter and is often suitable for 4 wheel drive only.
From the trailhead, a loop hike is possible. Counterclockwise is the shortest route to the summit. To access the pond, you can either follow the summit route to the plateau where the trails splits left to the pond or right to the summit, or take the clockwise loop by following the old jeep road trail along Putnam Brook before climbing to the plateau and the pond. Either route involves a steep climb to the plateau, which lies at approximately 2600’.
|A bit of an ice storm had been in the area|
If you wish to take the shortest route to the summit, you have to negotiate 2 ladders. A small ladder of about 6 rungs, and a much taller 25 rung ladder on the last incline before the summit. The tall ladder is held in place by a steel cable, but it can still be scary for those afraid of heights, or if the ladder and surrounding rock are iced up.
|The steep ladder just prior to the summit|
We took the counterclockwise loop choosing to hike to the summit first. We had a mix of sun and clouds with temps in the high 30's. There was snow, even at the trailhead. We put on our Microspikes right away, and they stayed on the entire hike. The snow was soft on the south side, but firm and still deep on the north side.
The summit provides great views to the south from a rocky ledge. From the summit you can continue the loop and go to the pond, or return. We went to the pond, which was still frozen and covered in snow. We didn't test the ice to see how thick it was!
|Leesa negotiating the trail with her Microspikes and a tree hold|
At the pond, we had a mix of sun bursts and dark clouds. This was my 2nd time to Crane Mountain and Pond, but Leesa's first. I still haven't been here in summertime, but I intend to come back to see the pretty pond, perhaps in the fall.
From the pond, we took the blue trail which quickly turns into a steep descent to Putnam Brook. You pass a nice long water slide on the way down. Once down at Putnam Brook it is an easy mile walk on a slight uphilll back to the trailhead.