Don’t Put Away the Snowshoes Yet
by Elizabeth Folwell
Last March, with temperatures above 70 degrees in the North Country, Tevas might have been appropriate footgear. But this month, with snow still thigh deep on many trails, snowshoes are the way to go. Webbed feet or cross-country skis are required for winter hikers on the Northville-Placid Trail, the High Peaks and other wilderness areas. This rule is not about preventing post-holing—which is really hard work and ruins the route for others—but for personal safety.
We asked Brant Lake-based photographer and avid snowshoer Carl Heilman II to suggest three mountains suitable for snowshoe excursions. On these routes you’ll still find abundant snowpack and great vistas through the treeless woods. A bonus this time of year is well over 11 hours of daylight.
1.8 miles round trip, easy
Between Eagle Bay and Old Forge, Bald (also called Rondaxe) Mountain is a fun snowshoe outing for the whole family with many fine views over the hills and lakes of the Fulton Chain. The trail to the summit ledges and fire tower is a gradual incline with only a couple of steep sections that can be fun glissades on the way back down. From the sign for Bald Mountain along Route 28, about 6.5 miles west of Inlet and 4.5 miles east of Old Forge, head north on Rondaxe Road a few hundred feet to the trailhead parking on the left. Sign the register and head up the trail.
3.8 miles round trip, moderate
This open summit in Newcomb is a great afternoon snowshoe with wonderful views of the southern High Peaks from a 60-foot fire tower. The well-maintained trail climbs steadily from the parking area to the restored tower and ranger’s cabin. Climbing the stairs of an icy fire tower on a windy winter day can be an adventure in itself—but has its rewards. The well-marked parking lot, close to the trails at the Adirondack Interpretive Center, is on the south side of Route 28N—a couple of miles west of Newcomb or about 12 miles east of Long Lake.
8.6 miles round trip, difficult
The challenging trail to Algonquin Peak ascends about 3,000 feet from the parking lot to the mountaintop. The exposed summit can be quite icy, requiring crampons rather than snowshoes, though the dramatic views are worth the effort. Plus, the steep sections on the summit dome are great for glissading on your way back down. From Route 73, about a mile east of the ski jumps near Lake Placid, head south on Adirondack Loj Road to the trailhead lot at Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks Information Center (parking fee of $5 for members, $10 for nonmembers).
For snowshoe tips, history and a list of places where you can rent or borrow snowshoes, read “On the Web,” from the November/December 2012 issue.