The Adirondacks is known for hiking. We have all kinds, in sizes to fit any group or level of enthusiasm.
Short hikes can be just as much fun as long ones, and they're well suited to groups that aren't looking for a strenuous outing. We have some little gems that offer a "great payoff for the effort" that we'd like to share.
malone rec park
There's lots to love about Malone's Recreational Park. The Pinnacle Rec Trail has a paved trail for a mile of scenic walking.
I love the view from the bridge over Rotary Lake. It's the scene of much bird activity in spring and fall, and many kids' splashy water fun in summer. This is a "lollipop" trail that extends from the Recreational Center and then forms a loop. Continue to the right to follow the lakeshore, or head to the left for more hilly terrain. Either way, it comes back to the bridge.
About half-way around there's a trail sign for a forest hike, which adds another mile to the route. The forest path has a grade-percent change of 5.7, which puts it in the easy (bordering on moderate) category.
There's nothing like a cool forest walk on a hot day -- nature's air conditioning.
This forest path is popular as a snowshoeing destination in the winter, too. It can be amazing how far away town can seem when we are in the middle of a forest.
I love the abundant flowers along the path, both wild and gardened. This lovely combination of lake, forest, flowers, and easy trails will have a way of pleasing everyone.
This hike is 11 miles south of Malone on Route 30, and is a great choice for a child's first summit. It begins very easily, on the flat, and there are many items of nature interest for them to look for.
Even smaller children can easily walk along the first half of the Elephant Head trail which is an old truck road. If using a vehicle tempts us, remember it is only suitable for 4 wheel drive with good clearance, and parts of the road can be quite narrow. This part is either flat or has a gradual rise.
The puddles which often pop up on this part of the trail are full of little brown frogs, which are also interesting to children, but there is usually enough room on the sides so we don't have to wade through them.
This section of the trail has plenty of chuckling streams and interesting variations, from dense forest to lovely meadows full of wildflowers. The road ends and becomes a foot trail, first through the meadow, then past a set of boulders, and then goes right at a trail sign. We quickly begin to climb, but it's no steeper than a set of stairs.
In fact, we know we are getting near the top when we get an actual set of stairs.
Once we are at the top of the stairs, bear left to the trail that leads to a small shelf and an incredible view of Lake Titus and Titusville Mountain. There is a rock just right for sitting, too.
A side area further left offers a view of the Humbug and Little Humbug Mountains.
At a little over 4 miles round trip, this is a wonderful choice for an easy morning, or afternoon, hike.
Even more easy hikes are just down Route 30, south, to the Paul Smith's College VIC. Twenty-five miles of mostly flat trails through every kind of Adirondack geography (except high alpine.) There's a natural history museum, a beautiful deck, and a Great Room where we can watch the birds at the feeders.
If there was a contest for most adorable mountain, Azure Mountain would win.
In 2001 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation planned to take down the fire tower atop the 2,518-foot summit. It's lower steps were removed in 1978, and concerns about safety meant plans to remove it entirely were in the works. But ardent fans in the Adirondack Mountain Club and Adirondack Architectural Heritage groups felt this would be a great loss of Adirondack history. The Azure Mountain Friends quickly formed and were able to restore the tower. On September 27, 2003, the fire tower was re-opened.
Now, new generations are exploring this delightful spot. While it is not as high as most mountains, it was chosen for a fire tower because of the incredible sweep of its view, and the relative ease of getting to the top.
Also known as "Blue Mountain," it is part of the Debar Mountain Wild Forest. It is only a mile to the summit, but most of that is steep.
Still, that doesn't stop children as young as 4 from climbing, on their own, up to the summit and the even greater glories of its fire tower. Seniors also find that the same rules (go slow, stop and rest, remember what awaits) will get them up the trail, too.
Parents report that it is usually about three-fourths of the way along that children start wondering what we have gotten them into, but then they are really glad they accomplished the climb.
It is estimated that between 8,000 to 10,000 people visit Azure every year. On weekends in the summer and early fall, there is a volunteer trail interpreter there to share stories, identify bird songs, and pass on the passion for environmental and historic preservation, This person is often the recipient of a $500 scholarship awarded to high school or college students who volunteer five days at the summit in exchange for this help with their studies.
It is also popular to get engaged at the summit, and this way there will be someone to take a picture of the happy couple.
A guide at the mountain, scholarships for students who love nature, and a dedicated band of friends who will keep the mountain giving back for generations to come; it's all part of the Azure Mountain story.
And what a fine story it is!
Azure Mountain photos courtesy of Azure Mountain Friends, who saved the tower and continue to provide much enjoyment and stewardship. Patches, shirts, and guides are available at local dining spot, Deer Valley Trails.
This week our bloggers highlight favorite ADK hikes: