If you are looking for a half day hike to an Adirondack peak that offers a lot of bang for the buck, Pharaoh Mountain is a good mountain to consider. The summit is large and varied, with a mix of trees and open rock and lots of nooks and crannies. It is also one of the few mountains that has a legal camping site located within a few feet of the true summit. There is no water available, so that should be a consideration. From the various viewpoints, one can see many of the high peaks, Schroon Lake, Crane Pond, Eagle Lake, Paradox Lake and much more.
There are many approaches Pharaoh. I chose to start at the Crane Pond parking lot. I didn't have a high clearance vehicle, so I had to walk the first 1.9 miles on the jeep road to Crane Pond. It was a 30 minute walk at a brisk pace. From Crane Pond I took the Pharaoh Mountain Trail (red trail) heading south. After .6 miles, I came to the junction with the Tubmill Marsh trail which gives hikers the option to head east past Oxshoe Pond and Crab Pond. I continued on towards Pharaoh. Soon I heard a shot in the distance. Hunters were out. I had Rev in her red coat, and I was in my orange baseball hat. Minutes later, I saw the hunter. He had shot a 10 point buck and was headed back to his truck to get some supplies.
From the Tubmill Trail jct., the trail climbs 1457' in 2.3 miles, gradually getting steeper as you approach the summit. I was excited to see snow as I climbed. The ground was white with perhaps an inch of snow at the top where it was not windblown.
|One of the open rock sections of the summit|
I reached the top and looked at my phone. It had taken me 1 hr, 50 minutes to hike 4.7 miles from the car. It was easy to make good time on the easy approach. Once on top, however, I spent 30 minutes looking around the summit. The designated campsite sits in a sheltered hollow in the pines.
|A non-camping hollow on the summit|
|... and the trail leading to Pharaoh Lake|
Eventually it was time to continue. I hadn't taken the trail down to Pharaoh Lake, so that is where I went. I had my old map with me, so I thought I would have to bushwhack north once I reached the lake. Little did I realize, there is now a trail that goes all the way around the lake. Seeing that, I stopped along the way to look at all the designated campsites on the different mini peninsulas along the shore. There were 3 nice sites on just the small stretch of shoreline that I walked on.
|One of the nice campsites on the NW shore of Pharaoh Lake|
At the NW corner of Pharaoh Lake, I took the Glidden Marsh trail NW 2.6 miles to another trail junction. This time I could choose Crab Pond or Oxshoe Pond. I still had some daylight left, so I headed for Crab Pond. I would cruise past the south shore of Crab Pond, then reverse direction and go past Oxshoe on the way back to Crane Pond.
|Campsite on the shouth shore of Crab Pond|
I hadn't seen Crab Pond before and it is an impressive site. It looks almost lunar with all the rocks scattered all over the pond. Once again, there was another nice designated campsite; this one on the middle of the south shore. There is no longer a leanto on Crab Shoe ( my old map shows one there).
Once I got to the eastern end of the pond, it was time to get back to the car. One more stop on the way back was at the Oxshoe Pond leanto. This leanto has one of the prettiest locations I've seen for a leanto. It is sited on a great pine knoll looking across Oxshoe Pone to a large rock outcrop on the far side.
Once I left Oxshoe, I had an hour's walk back to the car. All in all, a great day with 1 mountain, 5 ponds and a marsh along with great campsites and a leanto. The weather had been great all day. There were some clouds and wind at 1:30 and it appeared like rain was coming, but the sun soon returned and the gray skies were gone.
Hike Distance: 15 miles
Hike Time: 6 hours, 50 minutes
Total Vertical Gain: ~2600'
|My route (Click image to enlarge)|
|My route on the National Geographic map|