Lake George

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

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dirgylot Hill Exploration - Hoffman Notch Wilderness - 5/24/14

Dirgylot Hill is a new designated parking lot on Route 9, just north of the Town of Schroon Lake, and immediately south of Schroon Falls.  The sign just went up late last fall.  At that time, I pulled into the parking area and nothing else caught my eye.

Roadside sign for Dirgylot Hill

Today, Leesa and I were passing by and I glanced into the parking lot and a second sign caught my eye.   It was a sign at the back of the parking lot indicating public easement to Northway culvert.  That was all I needed to see.  We changed our hiking plans and pulled in and parked.  Why re-hike a trail we had done before when this was new to us and right before our eyes.

Sign at the back of the parking lot indicating public easement

I expected a footpath or jeep trail to the culvert and then plain wilderness beyond.  We got our gear together and started out.  The first part was as expected.  It was a fine jeep trail leading us to the culvert under I-87.  

The jeep trail leading to the culvert

Passing a gravel pit (to the right, out of the picture) on easement grounds 
It was just a 5 minute walk to the culvert (which was clean and in fine shape).  It was also plenty big to avoid claustrophobia. 

The I-87 culvert at Dirgylot Hill

 Once through the culvert, the nice old jeep trail continued.  We kept walking, thinking we would follow the trail as far as it went.  Shortly we came to a fork in the trail and chose the left fork.  It looked like it received more use.

We started seeing old spring houses.  I believe we saw five.  I had no idea what their purpose was.  There was nothing else around.

First spring house

Large spring house
The trail hooked all the way around Dirgylot Hill and then headed SE.  We continued to follow until we sw a clearing on the left.  I thought it might have been a campsite of sorts;  then I saw a plaque and a small gravestone.  Still there was nothing else around. 

Memorial stone for Elizabeth Miller
Shortly after continuing, we came to a T.  To the left was sawhorse with a posted sign on it.  We could see a farm field in the distance.  This was the property that is on the dead end road just west of I-87 Exit 28.  To the right were no signs, so we went that way.  We saw one more spring house (the stone one pictured below), then the trail turned SW then North.

The last spring house that we saw

As we headed north, we had done 3/4 of a figure eight by the time we were coming up alongside of Smith Hill on our left.  The woods had been beautiful and open the entire time we had been hiking.  We decided to shoot up Smith Hill to see what we could see.  It was an easy 10 minutes to the top, but there were limited views with the leaves now on the trees.

Climbing Smith Hill

After Smith Hill, we went back down to the jeep trail.  It began to peter out, but we traveled a short distance NE and were back on the trail to head out.  While heading back, we went up Dirgylot Hill to the summit.  It was similar to Smith Hill; open canopy of trees.

Dirgylot Hill summit.

Next we returned to the fork we had first seen on the way in.  This time we took the right fork.  The jeep trail went steadily NW.  It later turned to a herd path with trees cut with blaze marks.  After a descent to a drainage and re-climb on the far side, the blaze marks stopped but the herd path continued.

Very large tree along side the herd path

This herd path continued in a NW direction on the west side of an un-named drainage.  The path really looked like the remains of an old trail or jeep road at times.  After perhaps 1.5 miles, we saw a waterfall in the drainage and took a closer look.  It was a nice spot.  Someone else must have thought the same thing; there was a tarp covering a bunch of camping gear there.  

Waterfall on the drainage 

Back on the path, we continued further until the drainage turned to head into the col between Hoffman Mountain and Blue Ridge Mountain.  It was time for us to turn around, but I started thinking.  Maybe I'll attempt to climb Blue Ridge from the east, continuing from the point where we turned around when climb Blue Ridge as part of the ADK hundred highest.  If it gets too difficult, I can always abort, but the distance from where we turned around, to the summit of Blue Ridge is no more than 1.5 miles.

All the jeep trails and herd paths we walked on this day were in fine shape and a joy to walk on.  In addition, all the woods were open and lovely and inviting for bushwhacking.  We'll be back for sure.  There would also be great XC skiing here.

When I got home, I pulled up an old topo map and I found out that there was indeed an old trail in this area.  I believe we were on it for awhile when we were heading NW towards Blue Ridge Mountain.  

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  10.5 miles
Hike Time:  5.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1800'


The route (click image to enlarge)

The old topo map shows the old trail


  1. I'm glad to see DEC finally put a sign at the parking lot. It has always been confusing especially when the Nat Geo map and the UMP say different things.

    There is an old woods road back there that will take you between Blue Ridge and Hoffman. It is about a mile to each summit at the end. Get directly east of each summit after about 3200 ft or you will get tangled up in blowdown. This is much easier approach than going from the north or south and make getting both a fairly easy day (as hundred highest go).

    1. Thanks for the info. I'll head in from that way and see what I find.

  2. Looks like a great area. I'm liking that as a possible approach to Hoffman. Already got Blue Ridge.

  3. Looks like a great area. I'm liking that as a possible means to access Hoffman Mt.though it appears to be about 2000 ft elevation gain from where you stopped.

  4. Does anyone know any hstory of these spring houses? who used them?

    1. I believe they may still be private inholdings. The DEC Unit Management Plan mentions them if I recall.