Blue Mountain Fire Tower
Microspikes needed on Blue Mountain
It was almost the perfect day for a snowshoe in Saranac Lake, if only the skies were blue and the views endless, would it have been any better. The temperatures were in the mid 20s and not a lick of wind. Blue Mountain is one of the finest fire tower peaks in the Adirondack Park with its interesting trail and sweet views. To get to Blue it is located not a terrible ride from the Saranac Lake Region, and the scenery along the way is well worth the drive.
I met my hiking crew at the trailhead around 9am in the morning with a nice little chill in the air. One had brought his snowshoes which I recommended he just leave in the car, and he did. I made the decision early to bring extra Microspikes just in case some needed them; luckily I did, because they were needed. We put them on at the trailhead before we even started out. It was hard enough standing upright in the icy parking lot, much less how it would be on the steeper sections of trail. The Microspikes would help us move about freely on the trail and make the walking a bit more efficient, not to mention much safer.
The trail unfolded in front us rather quickly as we made our way up the old woods road to where the actual foot trail began. We were walking with very little to no snow under our feet; but the ice was plentiful. During the initial portion of the trail, where the grade is much less the ice was mostly hidden beneath a light coating of fresh powder, which without traction would have made it even more difficult.
Part way along the hike we topped off on a height of land that I call flat rock. Flat rock is a decent sized flat topped boulder on the side of the trail, a great place to take a small break. After a short break we descended the slight hill to the small valley below which has an attractive stream running through it. From here, is where the ice really began to appear, as well as the over grade of the trail. From this point we would fight the steeper slopes on a constant ramp of solid ice. Some of the ice was so hard even the Microspikes had trouble gripping in spots. We looked for wet spots on the ice and walked there when we could, knowing the grip would be much better. At other times we had to resort to pulling ourselves up along the trees or hiking in the trees where the ice wasn’t.
Arriving at the fire tower with winter conditions
Once the grade eased up a bit we enjoyed a much mellower hike through the balsams and spruces. Before we knew it we were standing below the fire tower. Unfortunately Blue Mountain doesn’t offer great views from ground level you need to climb the fire tower to reach the potential of this mountain. We suited up in preparation for the windy conditions that are typically found on the fire towers. The wind and cold conditions did not disappoint us. After a few quick pictures of the area, which we couldn’t see much, we got back down into the protection of the trees.
Now we had to descend this ice covered mountain and with our forward momentum it could be very dangerous. We stuck to the snow covered edges near the trees as needed, but more often than not, we followed a very narrow opening in the trees. We were down away from the ice with no issues and much faster than anticipated. Our hike was done in just over 4 hours, even with some extra time on the summit and a relaxed pace throughout.
Interested in hiking some of the Adirondack fire towers or other peaks in the Saranac Lake Region but want some assistance check out what some local guide services have to offer. Need a place to stay in the Saranac Lake Region before and after you time in the woods? We can handle it. Saranac Lake also has numerous options for food, coffee, and local fare.