I was caught by surprise this morning when the weather was better than I had expected. I decided, rather than catch up on some house projects, I would get out for a hike. I made this decision at 9 AM this morning, so without a lot of time to travel, I headed for the Lake George Wild Forest. I drove to the Buck Mountain trailhead on Pilot Knob Road to do a bushwhack hike to Buck Mountain and Little Buck Mountain.
I put an orange vest on my dog Rev and I wore my orange baseball hat. The parking lot had a dozen or so vehicles parked there and most were pickup trucks. I was guessing that many belonged to hunters. With Rev and I bushwhacking off trail, I wanted to make sure we were easily seen in orange (especially since Rev's coat is mostly white).
We followed the Buck Mountain trail for about a half mile before leaving the trail to the left. I wanted to head northeasterly and angle my way up to the Buck Mountain summit.
At about the 1.25 mile mark, I ran into a ridgeline and turned east to follow it up the slope. It was open and had lots of exposed rock and offered great views of Lake George to the West and SW.
|Climbing a ridge easterly|
|Great views of Lake George|
Eventually I had to resume my northeasterly course to avoid coming to the marked trail. As I approached the summit I worked my way up the steep slope on the west face. When I crested the summit, I was greeted with a stiff cold breeze. No one was there. I stopped to take few pictures and then headed north towards Little Buck.
|The Tongue Mountain range viewed from Buck Mountain|
|It looked like perhaps it was raining at the north end of the lake.|
Traveling northward was easy. I was careful on some wet moss and rock upon leaving Buck, but soon was greeted by open hardwoods. It took me about an hour to make my way over to Little Buck.
|Open hardwoods descending the north face of Buck|
I went to the nice west ledge before going east to the true summit. While on the ledge we stopped for lunch. The skies continued to alternate between sun and clouds, and it was breezy, but it was a nice day.
|The nice open ledge on the west face of Little Buck|
|Dome Island with Crane Mountain in the distance.|
|Some clouds on Crane Mountain|
|The Sagamore Resort down below|
|a closer look|
On the return to Buck, I followed a different course to see some new territory. I stayed a little further to the west on the return. As I got closer to Buck I closed in on my earlier route. This time on the summit there were 4 people there. I passed over the summit and dropped down the steep west face, following some yellow blazes on the rock. This was an obvious path and I followed it for a ways, but it heading W-NW and I wanted to go SW.
I worked my way SW, staying west of my earlier route. Once I came to the open ridge once again, I followed the same line down the ridge.
|The Tongue Mountain Range from Buck Mountain|
|Point Comfort from the west slope of Buck Mountain|
|Bottom of the rock pile|
At several points during the trip I crossed blue discs making a path that was part of the Chingachgook Trail System. This obviously went down to the Girl Scout camp, but the discs continued on the State Land and probably went to Buck Mountain.
One set of blue discs lead to the rock outcrop (and fire ring) in the picture below. This was on State land.
|One set of blue discs lead here|
I dropped down to the west from this location and turned south and soon found another location with a fire ring.
|Another nice shot of the Sagamore|
The last fire ring was almost within sight of the trail. As I left this fire ring, within seconds I saw a couple below me walking on the trail. I let them pass, then I emerged on the trail and had an easy 10 minute walk back to the car.
For a last minute hike, this turned out to be a nice one. It never did rain. Back at the parking lot, it was overflowing with cars. They were parking out on Pilot Knob Road. I'm sure the trail was a busy place. For me, other than the 4 people I saw on top of Buck Mountain, and the two persons I saw from a distance, I only saw one hunter. I did see 5 deer and a group of wild turkeys. Rev saw lots of chipmunks, but they just frustrated her when she tried to catch them.
|A last fire ring|
Hike Distance: 9.2 miles
Hike Time: 5.75 hours, including stops
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 3600'
|The route (click image to enlarge)|