I typically climb Pilot Knob Mountain 4-6 times per year. It's a quick place that I can get to and climb and be done in 3 hours. It may be quick, but it doesn't lack for views or great terrain.
Usually I start from the Buck Mountain trailhead on Pilot Knob Road. This time I started from the gate on the East side of Pilot Knob Road that is directly across from Echo Bay Road. It is hard to see in the summertime, but know with the leaves off the trees, it is easy to spot. There is parking for a couple cars in front of the gate.
Beyond the gate is an old woods road, which is actually in pretty good shape. As you follow it for a little ways, it begins to branch out with several forks along the way. I only stayed on the woods road for 10 minutes and then left it to climb straight up towards the shoulder of Pilot Knob Mountain.
It's a steep climb in spots, with lots of rock, and lots of rock covered in newly fallen leaves. It doesn't take long to have great views behind you of Lake George. As you can see in the pictures below, the trees are sparse and tree density is not an issue. Just be careful with your footing on the rocks, especially on the way down. I avoided all wet rock and moss.
|You have this view in 15-20 minutes|
After 15-20 minutes, you start breaking out into sloping meadows of rock and grass. There are lots of ticks here in the summer unfortunately. I had none on my clothes today. Thankfully the cold weather helps.
|Lots of terrain like this.|
|Chose a rock|
There are a few cliff faces along the way, but it's easy to find a work around.
I like this terrain and it doesn't get old climbing this mountain. Since the climb is a bushwhack, and there is no trail, each time I climb, it's a little different.
After I got to the shoulder of Pilot Knob, I continued on up the ridge towards the site of the 1969 plane crash. The crash site is in a rugged area on the side of the mountain. There is a memorial there for one of the victims and there are a couple piles of small pieces of the plane. That is all that remains.
If you see a small collapsed cabin in the area, you are about a 100 yards away from the memorial and crash site. Just walk towards the cliff face from the collapsed cabin.
|The memorial for one of the crash victims|
|... and plane parts|
|The old cabin near the crash site.|
After visiting the crash site, I went up to the true summit before heading back down. On the return trip, I dropped off the ridge in the col between the true summit and the shoulder of the mountain. Then I contoured around the side of the shoulder until I got back to the ascent route, thereby my dog Rev brought us back down, following our scent from a few hours earlier.
|Rev on Pilot Knob Mountain|
After this nice hike, I was back at the car and home by noon. If you're not afraid of a little bushwhack, and like bouldering and scrambling on lots of rock. This is a good hike for you. The views can't be beat.
I think the next best thing to hiking around the fjords of Norway is to hike around Lake George. It's not quite as dramatic, but it's pretty darn nice.
Hike Distance: 3.5 miles
Hike Time : 3 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 1800'