Lake George

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Blueberry Hill Trail System - Elizabethtown, NY - 4/26/14

Lately I've been exploring more mountains, hills and trails in the Elizabethtown area. Saturday, my wife Leesa and I stumbled upon the Blueberry Hill Trail System purely by accident.  We saw the sign pictured below and decided, as we drove past it, that we might as well take a look.     

Trailhead sign on Lord Road

I kind of expected this to be a small town trail system; a place to walk the dog, or take a 30 minute walk.  It is much more than that.  This trail system encompasses many hundreds of acres and there is a network of 30 trails that would take the better part of a day to explore (just look at the map below). You can download this map from the Elizabethtown website.  There's lots to see on this trail system and lots of different types of terrain.  It would be a great place for trail running as well.    

Trail map at the kiosk (click image to enlarge) 

One of the things I liked best were the man-made features along the way; a lean-to on top of a Blueberry Hill, an old cabin, a sugar house.     

Blueberry Hill

Looking east to Elizabethtown

The lean-to

Lean-tos aren't usually on top of a ridge; they are usually down by a stream or a pond.  This one has a great view east, south and west.

Look at the view!

The fastest way to the lean-to from the Lord Road trail head is to take the yellow (Col. Holst) trail to a right on the blue (Blueberry Hill) trail, to a left on the red (Lean-to) trail.  It's probably 15 minutes to the lean-to, and it's a great spot.  Be sure to get a trail map to take with you.

After we went to the lean-to, we went back to the car to take a picture of the trail map (since we didn't have one).  Then we drove over to the Bronson Way access and kiosk (they had trail maps there).  We parked at the sand pit at the end of Bronson Way and headed for the cabin on Cabin Trail.

It was an interesting style, but it doesn't look like it was used much after being built in 1996.  After the cabin we looped around the "She Trail", and back to the car.  We didn't go to the Sugarhouse.  Next time we'll get there.  

Small cabin with stone fireplace and log chunk walls with mortar

Rev checking out the interior 

Many of the the trails are old jeep roads.  Some are trails.  We were both quite impressed with this trail system and we will come back to explore more.  Check it out when you are in the area.  Lord Road is just off NYS Route 9N about one  mile west of Elizabethtown.

Our 2 loop hikes on the Blueberry Trail System (click image to enlarge)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Merrill's Hill - Schroon Lake - 4/25/14

Every time I see a hill or a mountain with some open rock at or near the summit, I look on my map to see if the location is on public land and if it is accessible from the road.  I've climbed quite few peaks this way.  Many of these are unfamiliar to most people.
On this particular Friday night occasion, I ventured up Merrills Hill in the Town of Schroon Lake.  A rocky summit can be seen from Trout Brook Road.  If you turn off Trout Brook Road onto Wamsley Road, and just keep going straight (ignoring the right turn onto Nurse's Road) the road turns to gravel, but you'll soon get to a dead end.  There is a small camp on the right.

Merrills Hill from Wamsley Road 


... a closer look

Beyond the dead end is an abandoned road which can be followed for a couple hundred yards before you come to state land.  I continued to follow the abandoned road for a very short while and then turned left to pick up the drainage that leads up to a col just east of the summit of Merrills Hill.
I crossed some orange flagging on the way up.  When I reached the summit ridge, I turned west and soon saw the flagging again, along with some small cairns and a herd path.  Within a couple minutes, I reached a fine ledge just below (and west) of the true summit.  Most of my pictures were taken from this spot.  There is a 180 degree view to the west that is quite nice.    
I also went to the true summit but it was nondescript.  The ledge was the place to be.    
Small cairns and flagging near the summit 
Looking SW
The ledge

Approaching the ledge from the east

Rev got there first
Always intent



about a 500' foot drop from this ledge
On the way down, I followed the orange flagging.  It was a herd path that had been marked by someone.  It went down the slope just west of the drainage that I had followed on the way up.  Near the bottom, it had turned east and crossed the drainage (that is where I first saw it) and it continued east a short distance, then dropped south to the abandoned road.  It's a little bit longer than the route I had taken, but it was alright.  It came out just near the state land sign pictured below.

More state land signs farther east on the abandoned road
I came back to this hill on Saturday to show Leesa the view from the ledge.  Lots of low clouds on Saturday made for some different pictures so I included some of those here as well. 

Same view but with low clouds on Saturday







I thought this was a nice little bushwhack hike to a ledge with a great view to the west.
Hike Stats:
Roundtrip Hike Distance:  2 miles
Hike Time:  ~ 1 hour
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 700'

Location Map

The route (click image to enlarge)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Iron Mountain - Giant Mountain Wilderness Area - 4/19/14

Today I wanted to find a hike with views, but I didn't want to get high enough that I would have to deal with soft melting snow.  I was worried that it would be hard on my dog if she kept sinking in deep soft snow.
I came up with the thought of climbing Iron Mountain in the Giant Mountain Wilderness from Route 9, just north of New Russia.  State land touches the road at that point and there is a pull off on the west side of the road there.  I didn't see a state land sign by the pull off, but there was one just to the south and there were no posted signs.  I was sure I was in the right spot.
There is an old logging road that leads into the woods from that point.  I headed SW following the logging road.  It quickly turned NW near a waterfall.  There was a main trunk road and lots of old side roads.  I stayed on the primary road for .9 miles at which time I reached a drainage coming from the col between Iron Mountain and the rock ledge I wanted to visit. 
A waterfall behind ice near the road
At this point I turned SW again following the drainage.  The woods were open, and with no leaves on the trees, I could now see that the drainage was indeed leading me right to where I wanted to go.  Soon I could see the open rock that is shown on the topo map.  The rock was huge!  It reminded me of the slab on Hopkins Mountain in Keene Valley.

Rev was the first to reach the top.  She roamed all around as I took too many pictures.  There were great views of Bald, Rocky Peak Ridge, Giant and Green Mountains.  


Rev standing near the old survey station bolts on the open ledge
On this open summit I find the old survey station bolts that I had heard were at this location. 

An old survey station bolt

Rev continued to be curious about everything and I took some shots of her.



Bald Peak and RPR.  Giant is in the clouds

The summit of Iron Mountain in the distance
I just kept taking pictures of  Giant and RPR.  I knew I'd probably delete most of them, but you never know which ones will be the keepers.  I left a few here below even though they're somewhat similar. 

Looking east from the open ledge


Bald, RPR and Giant from the second open rock



and the view from the summit of Iron Mountain
It had only taken one hour to reach the open rock, since it was only 1.5 miles from the car.  It took me another hour to reach the true summit (since I was taking so many pictures).   Also Rev and I had eaten lunch on the 1st open rock.
This really was a nice summit and it felt quite remote even though the hike was short.  I could have continued on to Owl Head Lookout, but I had other plans for later in the day.   





 I'll be back to this location for sure.  It's a nice place to bring someone that wants a great view without a whole day effort.
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  4.7 miles
Hike Time:  3.5 hours (including stops)
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1900'
Iron Mountain Summit Elevation:  2451'

The route (click image to enlarge)

A map of the general area