Aiming to Hike During Hunting Season?
by Elizabeth Folwell
Late fall in the Adirondacks brings the golden glint of tamarack trees on marshland edges and leafless hardwood forests that provide long, unobscured views. This time of year also brings rifle-toting big-game hunters when regular deer season begins on October 20 in the state’s northern zone.
The Adirondack Park is not off-limits to hikers when the hunters arrive. In fact, there are hiking trails where hunting is prohibited. For easy family hiking, check out Newcomb’s Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC), which has routes through old-growth forest and to quiet lakes; at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center there are well-maintained trails to Barnum Brook, Heron Marsh, Jenkins Mountain and other destinations. Trails at both centers are open daily this fall from dawn to dusk; a nominal fee applies at the VIC.
Near Lake Placid the walking loop around John Brown Farm State Historic Site meanders through mixed forest. Nearby, off Bear Cub Road, Henry’s Woods has about five miles of easy to moderate trails that are open to dogs and their humans year-round. Neither setting is a true wilderness experience, but they are fine autumn treks.
The trail up 2,690-foot Goodnow Mountain is great any season and because the property is owned by the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry it is posted against hunting. The trailhead is roughly across Route 28 from the AIC.
Heading closer to the High Peaks, trails on Adirondack Mountain Reserve lands are open for hiking but closed to campers, dogs and hunters. Round Mountain is a challenging hike with great views from ledges and the open summit. It’s 2.3 miles, including some rocky scrambling to the top from the parking area off Route 73. You can make a longer loop by taking part of the old Dix trail and walking along the Ausable Club Road.
Near Westport, Coon Mountain is enclosed by a Nature Conservancy preserve, and the relatively tame trail goes through deep hemlock forest to an open summit. No hunting is allowed on Cook Mountain, near Ticonderoga, which belongs to the Lake George Land Conservancy.
These are just a few suggestions for easy to more difficult outings; the publication Adirondack Great Walks and Day Hikes includes numerous route descriptions, spot maps and even some videos.
If you have a favorite destination you want to visit one last time before winter approaches, common sense is a good guide:
- Choose habitat that’s not ideal for deer or bear; ledges and popular peaks are better than remote ponds and wetlands this time of year.
- If the parking area is full, you’ll surely encounter others, some of them hunters.
- Always sign the trail register with your name, date, time, number in party and sign out when you return.
- Wear orange or red in a garment that’s visible from all angles, like a hat, jacket or vest; avoid earth tones and white.
- If hiking with your dog, keep him or her close at hand. An orange vest or even an old T-shirt in hot pink, bright red or orange is a good way to highlight that your four-legged friend is not prey.
- A bear bell dangling from your pack will let humans know you’re on the trail too.