Hiking the Black Mountain Loop Trail || Lake George, NY || August 27, 2016
The only question asked before the morning of our first full Saturday here was “Which hike should we do?” There are so many peaks, both near and far, and let’s be honest — between winter and a weird schedule, we aren’t going to be able to hike them all (that’s just my very practical self speaking — Curtis might say something different 😉 ). We did a little research, and came up with what looked to be a very promising hike. Just over an hour away, a loop trail, 7 miles, a letterbox series planted by friends of ours, a hike that is on 2 different hiking challenges, a great view, and we’d get 2 new counties. Sounds like the perfect weekend if you ask us!
Before I start, let me explain the hiking challenge thing real quick: before we moved here, we heard about the Adirondack 46 peak challenge, and immediately thought we should go do them all. Now, everywhere we look we’re reading about different hiking challenges for New York, surrounding states, and the Northeast in general. Hiking is a huge thing here, and it generally feels like people are more outdoorsy up here. Anyway, we now know a little more about the different challenges and have decided the one that we really want to go after is the Fire Tower challenge. It’s only 23 peaks, 18 in the Adirondacks and 5 in the Catskills, most are shorter hikes and easier trails, and it’s frankly the most manageable for us in the amount of time we think we’ll be here. (And now that we’ve actually done a couple of the 46 peaks, we now know how challenging that challenge actually is…more on that later!)
Back to the events of our day! Our chosen hike was Black Mountain on the East side of Lake George. It it on both the Fire Tower challenge and the NY 29 peaks challenge (which are supposedly easier than the 46 highest peaks, and just a random assortment of great hikes scattered around). Lake George itself is pretty touristy, and there were quite a lot of people on this hike, but at the end of the day we were really glad we did it. It helped us to do a longer trail, get back in shape, and become better acquainted with trails in New York.
Black Mountain can either be done as an out and back hike in 5 miles, or you can make it a loop hike which makes it 7. Of course we went for the loop hike — because of letterboxes, and we like to keep hikes interesting and see more of the area. When we came to the fork in the trail, we went right, going about the loop counter clockwise, which we’d say at the end of the day is the easier way to do it. If you’re just going up and back, definitely stick to the right. The trail is moderate and well maintained, which I say now that we’ve done several hikes and can compare the different trails around here. There were a few steep parts, but judging by the amount of traffic on the trail, most people can do this. What kind of astounds me is that I rarely see people on trails carrying water or food. I mean, even if we were only doing 5 miles up and back, we’d still drink plenty of water and want a snack at the top. But maybe that’s just us. Usually when we see people without water, they’re only on the first mile or so of a hike and don’t look like they’re getting much farther, but it seems like the norm up here is to hike up and down with absolutely nothing. Weird!
The view at the top was spectacular. You can’t climb the fire tower itself anymore, so you don’t have a complete 360 view, but looking down on the lake was good enough for us. On the way up, there weren’t any sneak peeks of what you were going to see, which made the end so much more worth it. We found a little spot on the rocks among the other hikers, took in the view and enjoyed our snacks.
One thing I really enjoyed was hearing stories from other hikers. One couple was telling their children about the times they had hiked this trail 20 years ago, and how there used to be a ranger who would live up here in a cabin over the summer. It made me realize how special trails and hiking really are. If we take good care of these beautiful areas and the trails, they are really something that can be enjoyed from generation to generation. Someday, maybe we’ll have kids that will hopefully also enjoy hiking, and we’ll bring them here and tell them about that time we lived in New York.
We didn’t stay too long at the top because, well, you know us and crowds. The rest of the loop was much quieter, and to our delight, gave us some more great views to the South that we would have completely missed had we gone back the same way we came. If you can do the loop here, do it. It’s so worth it! Charlotte just has a knack for knowing when she should wander off trail to find a rock or some great vantage point. We took our sweet time making our way back, enjoying both views from up high and the different ponds we passed as we descended the mountain.
What’s also interesting is that this mountain was only just over 2000 feet above sea level. Clearly only a fraction of the heights we’ve hiked to, and yet it was still a good workout and made us feel like we were on top of the world. Living at sea level definitely brought us a greater appreciation for elevation gain. We aren’t ones to judge a mountain by how tall it is anymore. If it’s a mountain, we’ll hike it. End of story. 😉
We made it back to our car after a great hike. Perhaps doing it on a weekday or after Labor day would make it less busy, but we weren’t complaining. We enjoyed every part of this so much. We drove home taking new country roads and enjoyed getting “lost” and driving through little towns along the way. This is the smallest town we’ve ever lived in, and we are really enjoying it. We aren’t much for nightlife or going out, so this place is really perfect for us. We can drive around back highways as much as we want and hardly ever have to take interstates. I’d say we would be perfectly happy to live here for the rest of our lives, but hey, there’s a big world out there. We need to move around a bit more before we can know that for sure. 😉