Hiking to Prospect Mountain • Lake George, NY • November 12, 2016
Our first hike last weekend may have resulted in lessons on what not to do and how to recover from a series of failed hiking attempts, but I’m happy to report that we actually applied some things we learned for our next hike! Namely, we got up early, and left the house before 8:30! What!? Yes! We didn’t freeze, and still managed to eat a big breakfast. Who even knew this was possible? 😉 (Curtis. Curtis knows it’s possible. Somehow, he does it every weekday morning before 5:30. See, it’s not all fun and games around here!)
Anyway, for this hike, we drove to Lake George, NY to hike Prospect Mountain. In the summer, this town is packed with tourists (we’ve personally seen how backed up interstate 87 gets from this) but now in the middle of November the streets are much quieter — not to mention the trails! Prospect Mountain is actually one of the top tourist attractions in the area because there’s a road that leads to the top. It’s not even the highest mountain around, and doesn’t necessarily have the best view of the lake (Black Mountain still holds that title for us!) but because there’s a road to the top, it gets all the attention.
So what do you do if you want to hike to the peak and avoid all the crowds? Wait until November when the road closes! We actually ended up loving this hike because there was hardly anyone else out there!
Curtis picked a trail for us based off of letterboxing, and it also just so happened to be a lesser used trail by hikers. The main trail people use follows a historic railroad bed one mile up to the top; the one we took came from the North side and was over 2 miles to the top. The trail begins off of Big Hollow Road, and we parked just before the road goes under the interstate. It felt pretty sketchy, but we were the only hikers here, so I’m not complaining!
However, while there were no other hikers out, there were several hunters out doing their thing. The first ones we saw were loading a big buck into the back of their truck — Charlotte couldn’t see it, but she knew something was up! We didn’t see any signs that said the trail was closed to hiking during hunting season, so we continued on the trail and stayed out of their way. There are a few trails around NY that close during hunting season, and the one time we found a trail like that, we knew it would be closed because of a sign at the trailhead (this was at Spruce Mountain). Still, we’ve been wearing bright colors on all our hikes this fall and keeping Charlotte with us on the trail, just to be safe. (Side note: that’s why we’re always wearing the same sweaters in all our hiking pictures. Don’t judge. 😉 )
The trail also happens to be an ATV road, which means it was wide and rocky with a steady climb to the top. The unevenness of the rocky trail made things more challenging, but we were thankful we weren’t hiking through mud! Our favorite part about this trail was the the creek flowing in the valley below, and though we were climbing higher and farther away, we were able to see little waterfalls along the way. Too bad there couldn’t be a loop trail that goes right along the creek, it would’ve been fun to have a better view!
Another thing that made this hike interesting was learning about and finding pieces of history along the way. Just over a mile into the hike, there comes a fork in the trail. The trail to the peak goes to the left, but if you wander down to the right and off the trail a bit, you’ll find remains from what used to be a barn. We sat on the stone foundation and letterboxed, and Curtis wished that he could metal detect this area. 🙂 It was interesting to us that this town has been touristy for almost as long as it’s been around. There actually used to be a hotel at the top of this mountain, and they once had a cog rail that went to the top as well as a carriage road. So for as long as there have been tourists coming to Lake George, there has been a demand to have an easy way to the top of this mountain!
Back on the main trail, we pushed through the last section of trail and met up with the parking lot and road near the top of the mountain. We were shocked by how big this parking lot was and could just picture it being packed during the summer months. Today in the middle of November, we only saw 1 other hiker briefly. Not bad at all! We had the top all to ourselves as we letterboxed and ate lunch. (By the way, the hiker mentioned that last year, they opened the road for Veteran’s Day — so maybe do a little research before going if you’re hoping for a quiet November hike like we enjoyed!)
We decided to take advantage of the fact that there was no one on the road by walking down the road from the peak back to the parking lot. We enjoyed the different views and taking pictures of each other next to the sheer cliff walls. Of course, Charlotte somehow stole the show…she’s too dang cute! Not to mention extremely proud of herself for conquering yet another mountain…and thrilled to have eaten half of our crackers.
The hike down went by quickly and soon enough we were back at our car. After that, we decided to go explore the town of Lake George a little, since it was so quiet and parking was free! We agreed that visiting in the off season is the best choice for us — except for the fact that all the ice cream shops were closed. Bummer. (It was chilly out, I don’t even know why ice cream sounded so good when we passed by the vacant shops!) After that, we went on a little history tour — Curtis will share about that soon! We finished our day with letterboxing on the way home, and a picnic at roadside picnic area. Yet another great fall day in New York — we’ll be missing these days soon enough!