Ampersand is rightly famous for the beauty of its views and the "stone staircases" built along the higher sections of the trail. The terrain offers plenty of variety. It's easy going from the trailhead over two brook crossings, one of which has a wood log bridge. This is an excellent turn-back point for a snowshoeing trek.
The trail then starts ascending until the rubble of an old fire observers cabin, when it starts getting quite steep, and then there's the staircases, built to handle the erosion from foot traffic.
Many of these markers might not be apparent, depending on the depth of the snowfall.
It is designated at one of the Saranac Lake 6er’s.
Primary Trailhead: From the intersection of Route 3 and Route 86 in Saranac Lake follow Route 3 toward Tupper Lake. Continue out on Route 3 for 8.1 miles to the Ampersand Trailhead. Parking is on the right; trailhead is located directly across the road on the left.
After the stairs the footing can actually be better than in the summer, as a good snowfall can smooth over the tricky parts of the trail. Either way at the split in the trail will take you to the summit. The right is more open with a rock base and the left goes through trees.
When the split rejoins the trail levels and then passes through a section of jumbled boulders the size of small houses. From this point on the picture taking will really start!
5.2 miles RT, Ascent: 1775 ft, Elevation: 3352'
WInter summit photo courtesy Zack Clothier.