Lake George

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

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hoffman Mountain - Hoffman Notch Wilderness - 3/8/14

Hoffman Mountain is the namesake of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area.  It lies in the center of the wilderness area and is a 3701' trail-less peak.  It is on the list of the Adirondack hundred highest peaks.

Probably the most common way to climb the mountain is to start at the Big Pond Trailhead on Hoffman Road (County Route 24), and follow the Big Pond trail for approximately 1.5 miles before turning right to veer north up the ridge to the summit.

I learned that The ADK Glens Falls/Saratoga Chapter had done this hike a week ago on March 1st.  Since there had been no storm during the week, I knew the route would still be broken out and that would greatly ease the effort to climb the ridge.

My wife, Leesa, and dog, Rev, joined me yesterday to do this climb.  I had tried this route once previously, but didn't allow enough time and I had to turn back.

On this day we got started at 7:30.  I knew the ADK group took 12 hours to do the 11 mile hike on 3.1, but they had to bushwhack 8 of the 11 miles breaking trail.  I figured we could do the same hike in 9-10 hours or less since we would be on a packed route.

The first 1.5 miles was an easy 30 minute walk on a generally level marked trail.  Starting up the ridge, the whack route follows the ridge through mostly hardwoods until the 3 mile mark.       

Open hardwoods low on the ridge
Just prior to the 3 mile mark is the only steep section of the hike.  There is a short scramble up through some rocks and briars that climbs about 300' to an elevation of 2400'. 

The beginning of the scramble

Panorama looking south

Rev at the viewpoint at the top of the scramble

At the top of the scramble is the best viewpoint of the entire hike.  Looking south, one can see Big Pond and North Pond in the foreground, plus an unnamed pond.  In the distance, Schroon Lake is clearly visible.

View south from the top of the scramble

Leesa, climbing the lower section of the ridge

Once past the viewpoint, as we continued the climb, we entered a spruce forest which occupies most of the ridge from that point.  We stayed to the east side of the ridge, following the tracks.  The east side has been described as being the easiest way to negotiate the ridge, and that is the way the tracks went.  At one point, you go through an open hardwood section, but then you are back in the spruce.  

A first look at Hoffman Mountain from the last section of hardwood forest

A zoom look at Hoffman Mountain

We really had the perfect day to do this hike.  The wasn't a lot of sun, but the temperature was perfect.  It was about 25 degrees at the start and warmed to the mid-thirties.  There was almost no wind and it felt so nice to hike in temps above freezing for the first time in a long while.

As we gained the higher portions of the ridge, the tracks we followed were blown in in many spots, but we could easily tell when we stepped off the packed trail since we would sink in unconsolidated snow.

The final approach to the true summit was a small section of blowdown followed by a climb of 100' or so to the the summit.

the last false summit

A last viewpoint

After 5.5 miles we reached the summit.  Hoffman definitely feels like it is a long ways from civilization.  It lies 4 miles from the nearest trail and that 4 miles can be rough if conditions aren't good, or if you don't chose your route carefully.  Fortunately for us, everything went well on this day.

Since there was no wind, we stayed on the summit to have our lunch.  We had reached the summit at exactly 12:00.  

Leesa and Rev on the summit of Hoffman Mountain!

Looking NE from the summit

View west from the summit

The summit

Going back was a breeze, with the exception of the short scramble area. The majority of the ridge slopes gently.  We got back to the car at 4 PM and I felt good as new.  I had expected to feel a little drained from this hike, but we had such good conditions, it didn't feel like the hike was 11 miles.    

Leesa heading down

A last view to the south

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  11 miles
Hike Time:  8 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~2700' 

The route (Click image to enlarge)


  1. Very much enjoyed your post. I climbed it back in Aug 2012 after wanting to do so for many years

  2. Thanks! It can be a nice hike if you are lucky enough to avoid the areas of dense understory.

  3. agree. It was an exciting adventure fulfilled for me. Very impressed with your time of only 8 hours!

  4. As you know, winter hiking times can be faster, especially if the route is broken out. I could have gone faster, but we went at Leesa's moderate pace.