My folks were watching my 12-year-old niece Rebecca for the weekend and it seemed a good idea to have them all come up for a visit. We spent a few days exploring the area walking in Bloomingdale Bog, checking out the Olympic Center, and going miniature golfing. I had suggested to my niece that perhaps she would like to hike a short mountain, but she was hesitant, unsure how she would like it or the hard work involved.
Signing in at Baker Mountain
But after pointing out Baker Mountain in Saranac Lake a few times to her, she agreed to give it a shot. And so we took Wren and headed out late in the afternoon – a perfect time to hike up Baker in the cooling air. Rebecca watched me as I signed us in at the trailhead. "What are you doing?," she asked. I explained to her the importance of it and how the DEC, Department of Environmental Conservation, has trail registers at their trails so they can assist in searches if hikers are lost, hurt or have an emergency; and also as a means to see how many people use the trail to determine trail maintenance. Rebecca nodded in comprehension and we set off.
Onward and upward
Our progress was steady as we plodded up the trail on the backside of the mountain, pausing to look at and listen to Hermit Thrushes and Black-capped Chickadees. Rebecca had been learning the birds which came to the feeders in my yard earlier in the weekend.
After a steep section we stopped for some water while Wren stood waiting for us to begin again. “She goes fast and makes it look really easy,” said Rebecca as she watched Wren a bit envious.
“Well she’s got all-wheel drive,” I replied. “Compared to her we’re all slow.” We trudged on.
A great beginner hike
Baker is a great choice for new hikers or kids because the trail is just under a mile each direction, and by the time we had stopped for our second drink of water, we were already nearing the top. “It’s just up here,” I encouraged her.
As we reached the summit I showed Rebecca the National Geodetic Survey marker and led her over to the view overlooking McKenzie Pond. “Wow, that’s cool,” she said and she sat down with her water bottle on a rock to take in the view. I drank up, too, and poured a bowl for Wren who slurped briefly and then continued to poke around the summit for food left behind by other hikers. I had already pointed out the summits of Haystack and Mt. McKenzie to Rebecca from town, but now we looked at them from a bit closer to eye level. Then I began telling her the names of some of the distant High Peaks.
Coming down the mountain
We walked down the main trail to Baker so we could overlook the High Peaks and the many lakes surrounding Saranac Lake and again I went through some of the most prominent landmarks which stretched out before us. There was Mt. Marcy, Algonquin, Oseetah Lake, Lower Saranac Lake, and the list went on and on. Rebecca had also carried a camera up the hill and we both set to snapping photos of the sun’s low rays across the landscape. I then connected the dots of buildings in town to lead her to the white-peaked roof of my place – just visible over the trees. “Was the hike worth it?” I asked. Rebecca simply nodded with a bright smile.
We started down, taking our time to watch our step and each using a trekking pole to aid our descent. Eastern Wood Pewees and Hermit Thrushes sang and called from the growing shadows in the trees. I signed us out at the bottom and we walked back to the car, Wren racing to Moody Pond, desperate for a swim. But I called her back to the car and we drove to Lake Colby where my folks met us for a swim in the evening shadows and the cool air, which was steadily growing colder. Wren (of course!) and I both took part in a swim, but Rebecca decided that a hike was enough adventure for one day as she stood on shore remarking about how chilly it had become. Instead, she chose a warm shower after we had returned home while the rest of us grilled up burgers for dinner.
Hiking for your first time in Saranac Lake
Saranac Lake has cool hikes all different lengths, shapes and sizes. Read our hiking page and find a hike that works for you or consider enlisting a guide to help you. Hiking can leave you tired, ...and hungry, consider selecting a cool place to stay in advance and perhaps a place to eat and unwind from your adventure.