There is no doubt about it, the Elk Lake Lodge and Forest Preserve is a beautiful property. A wonderful lodge, on a glorious lake, surrounded by 12,000 acres is tough to beat. Leesa and I took advantage of being on property to climb both Sunrise and Boreas Mountains.
Leesa wanted to see sunrise on Sunrise Mountain, but it wasn't to be. Rain overnight followed by morning clouds, held the sun back.
We started our hike to Sunrise at 5:40 AM. The mostly sunny skies were predicted starting around 8 AM, so we thought maybe we could see some interesting clouds as skies cleared.
|The Elk Lake Sign on Blue Ridge Road|
We headed into the woods parking lot and trailhead for the Dix trail. After 0.25 miles we turned onto the private trail to Sunrise Mountain. The lower part of the trail follows and old woods road. There was lots of water in the trail and our boots were soon wet.
|One of the signs to Sunrise Mountain|
As the woods road turned into a foot path, the trail paralled Little Sally Brook. Soon the trail became drier and we began to climb in earnest.
|The trail was quite pleasant when we got out of the water.|
The Sunrise Mountain Trail offers two nice viewpoints prior to the summit. We, of course, stopped at each of them. Clouds were still dominant, but there were signs that skies were clearing.
|Elk Lake from the first viewpoint.|
|Clear Pond from the 1st viewpoint.|
The 2nd viewpoint wsa nice as well, although there were limited views of Clear Pond. We continued on and reached the summit after 90 minutes of hiking. Leesa was excited to see the interesting clouds that we had hoped to see. We couldn't tell if it was going to rain or clear. For a few minutes, the skies were growing increasingly dark and it began to sprinkle.
|Looking north from the ledge adjacent to the true summit. Nippletop Mountain in the background.|
|Cool clouds to the south.|
We stayed on the summit for 20 minutes watching the cloud change, then began to head down. The sun began to make its' presence known almost immediately. By the time we got back to the lower viewpoints, the view looked entirely different due to the appearance of blue sky.
|Elk Lake under under some blue skies by 8 AM.|
We made our way back down through the wet lower portion of the trail and were soon back at the lodge. The hike was 5 miles round trip and took 3 hours to hike. At the lodge, I took a couple pictures of Elk Lake while Leesa change her socks.
|The view of Elk Lake from the Lodge.|
Next it was time to head for Boreas Mountain. We started on the trail to Panther Gorge. We crossed the suspension bridge over "the Branch" and continued until the point where the marked trail made a sharp turn to the right. We continued straight to head towards Boreas.
|We left the state trail here and continued straight towards Boreas Mountain.|
Soon we came out onto a logging road which we following for 1.4 miles. Mosquitoes were suddenly horrendous, after having no problems all morning. We both put on Deet and headnets. After 1.4 miles, we crossed a new wooden bridge and immediately came to a sign on the right saying 2.1 miles to Boreas Mountain. We turned here and were now on the old woods road to the former fire observers cabin. The mosquitoes left us at this point.
|The new bridge.|
|This is where we left the logging road and began to climb on the trail.|
|This clearing is where the fire observers cabin used to be.|
After 1.2 miles, we reached the clearing where the cabin used to be. At this location, the old woods rooad transitioned to a foot trail and became increasingly steep. We climbed 1100' from this location to the summit of the course of 0.9 miles. At last we reached the summit.
We both took off our boots and sat down on the summit rock to eat lunch. From Boreas, there are views of Elk Lake, Clear Pond, Maccomb Mountain, Hough Peak, Dix Mountain, Nippletop, Blake, Colvin, Haystack, Marcy, Skylight and the whole upper half of the Great Range.
|The USGS Geodedic Survey marker on the summit of Boreas Mountain.|
|Elk Lake with Dix, Hough and Macomb in the background.|
|a closer look|
|zoom view of Gothics from Boreas Mountain|
|zoom view of Haystack|
|Marcy and Haystack|
|The upper Great Range shrouded in clouds.|
|Elk Lake from Boreas Mountain|
Our route down was the same except that we followed the logging road all the way out to Elk Lake Road (one mile south of our car), then followed the road back to the car.
It was great to spend time at Elk Lake Lodge and to hike these two wonderful peaks.
Sunrise Mountain Hike:
Hike Distance: 5 miles
Hike Time: 3 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 1500'
|The Elk Lake private trail to Suirse Mountain|
Boreas Mountain Hike:
Hike Distance: 9.2 miles
Hike Time: 4.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 2200'
|The Elk Lake private trail to Boreas Mountain.|