My idea for a first hike in the new year was to find something new that I hadn't climbed before. I pulled out my map and studied it for a bit and my eyes settled on the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest. I haven't done much exploring there so I had lot of possibilities. I decided to drive up past Stony Creek to Lens Lake Road and see if there was a place to park to hike one of the surrounding peaks.
The road was plowed past Lens Lake and almost to Middle Flow. There was a parking lot at that location and the State Land boundary was right there. I studied the map and opted to head for Seneca Mountain first.
|The end of the plowed road.|
The followed the unplowed road until I reached the private property boundary. I skirted left to stay on state land. The woods were open hardwoods and a the bushwhack was easy. It really wasn't much of a climb to reach the summit, perhaps 500-600' vertical. Just as I was reaching the true summit, a large snowshoe hare leapt out from behind a rock and bounded off. Rev took off in hot pursuit. The hare quickly disappeared and Rev came trotting back.
|The summit of Seneca Mountain.|
|From Seneca Lake, Great Sacandaga Lake in the distance.|
I took a hot chocolate break and then opted to head for Spruce Mountain. Rev and I bounded down the mountain until we reached Paul Creek. The creek was larger than I expected and there was no way for us to cross and keep our feet dry. We followed the creek a bit and then headed back towards the car. At Middle Flow, I found a nice warm spot in the sun and took a break, soaking up some rays. It felt so good I lingered for a bit.
|My warm sitting spot|
While basking in the sun, I took another look at the map and determined I could climb Spruce Mountain by starting at the car and hiking straight East. Paul Creek was no longer a factor.
Five minutes into this 2nd hike, I came to a small creek and saw a cairn in the water. Looking around, I saw small orange paint blazes on the trees. Someone had illegally cleared and marked a trail. Shortly afterwards, I saw a sign pointing back to the parking lot.
|Pointing back to where I started...|
The orange blaze trail turned northward briefly before turning back eastward. No doubt this trail was going to the summit. Next I came to a junction... orange blaze and red blaze. The orange continued eastward and upward, the red blaze were heading south traversing the slope of Spruce Mountain.
I continued along the orange blaze path and soon reached a prominent viewpoint where I could see Lens Lake, Middle Flow, Livingston Lake and Great Sacandaga Lake.
|A nice viewpoint|
Supplementing the orange blazes were cairns placed along the way. The trail was not only blazed, but trees had been cut and trees had been de-limbed. Someone had spent quite a bit of time making this trail.
|One of many cairns|
|And even a few signs|
|This summit cairn was Leesa's height.|
|Summit of the unnamed peak north of Spruce Mountain.|
Rather than return the way we came, we side-hilled he west slope of Spruce Mountain until we regained the orange blaze trail down low, not too far from the car.
Seneca Mountain & Return: 5.5 miles
Spruce Mountain & unnamed peak to the north and return: 5.8 miles
Total time 7.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~2000'