Access to The Saddles is via an access road from Route 4, just south of Champlain Beef. The access road is not maintained in the winter. This adds an extra 0.7 mile walk to get to the summer parking lot.
|Sign on Route 4|
The access road was icy so I put on my microspikes. Rev didn't have any issues. The road climbs at at a continuous moderate grade.
The access road to the parking lot
|The summer parking lot|
Once I reached the summer parking lot, I continued to follow an old woods road. It had many branch off locations, but I followed what appeared to be the most used old road. It was heading SW and that was fine. I wanted to see Clear Pond, then head for West Mountain followed by the unnamed peak to the NW. Eventually the woods turned NW which was great. It became obvious that it was headed for Clear Pond.
Clear Pond was covered in ice but it was obvious that beavers are the native inhabitants. I continued to follow the woods road which hooked around the east side of Clear Pond. On the north side of the pond, I passed an old abandoned shack.
|Winding past Clear Pond|
|Rev... looking for a beaver|
|Abandoned shack on the north side of Clear Pond|
I eventually left the woods road to climb the named peak called West Mountain. Just prior to the summit, much to my surprise, I crossed a white blaze trail. I reached the nondescript summit, then backtracked to the white blaze trail. I decided to follow it for a bit and see if it was heading the way I wanted to go. It was! It was heading generally NW towards the unnamed peak and cliff face that I wanted to see.
At the summit and cliff face, there were great views to South Bay, Black Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain. The white blaze trail appeared to be heading down the ridge towards South Bay. I followed it for a few minutes, but I didn't want to go down to the bay. I turned around and started heading back.
|Great view of "The Diameter"; the cliff face at the outlet of South Bay|
|The face of the cliff|
|Rev watching a chipmunk.|
|Black Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain in the distance.|
Soon I came to an intersection with a blue blaze trail. Maybe that would go back towards the parking lot. It did. I followed it all the way back.
I had expected the day to be a bushwhack, but it ended up being a woods road on the way in and a blaze trail on the way out. That was fine. It was a great day out in the woods. I didn't see another person all day.
|Junction of the white blaze and blue blaze trails.|
|A cairn along the way on the white trail.|
|The end of the hike. Route 4 ahead.|
Hike Distance: 7.8 miles
Hike Time: 4 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~1800'
|A map of the route and the State Forest. I traveled clockwise.|