Spring with care into the Adirondacks

Updated: Jul 16, 2019

There is an overwhelmingly strong correlation between the increase in temperature and the duration of time you will spend outdoors. Naturally you’ll want to start stretching your legs. Take out the bike. Strap on the rollerblades. Hop on the trail. Be careful though, Spring likes to tease us. One day will bring reDONKulously good weather only to be followed by a streak of cold, rainy days. But after the sweet taste of warm weather you’re itching to get outside even more now. I get it, I found myself in the same position recently. The sun was peeking through the clouds every now and again with no signs of rain in the forecast. My original plan was to head up to the Moose River for some exploring and follow it up with dinner at Tony Harper’s Pizza & Clam Shack in Old Forge. This would not be the case at all. Instead, I found myself taking on the “Adirondack Fifty Falls” AND “Lake Placid 9er” challenges.

*** Spring Hiking Disclaimer ***

Spring is a time for caution in the Adirondack Park. Yes, the weather is improving, but that does not mean trail conditions are magically dry again. The High Peaks should be avoided during this season, NO EXCEPTIONS. Given the volatility of our weather in New York you can still have 3 feet of snow or more on the High Peaks this time of year (in fact, a recent measurement from the ADK Mtn Club showed 3ft). In addition, the Spring runoff creates super muddy conditions along the trails. If trails are used under these conditions it can cause serious harm to the trail and its surrounding ecosystem. Be sure to research trail conditions and accessibility before planning your hiking trips.

*** Spring Hiking Disclaimer ***

I set out from Utica thinking about what waterfalls may lay along my route to Old Forge. And then it hit me! All those winter road trips up Route 8 to SEND IT down Gore Mountain I had always noticed one particular trail sign along my route. “Auger Falls.” Outside of the Winter months I don’t take Route 8 all that often. Why not today I thought? (Some say “why?” I say “Why not?”)

With heroic levels of self-control I avoided stopping at Stewart’s in Barneveld for coffee. I took the Route 365 East exit ramp off of Route 12 North towards Hinckley. Hinckley Reservoir looked pretty dam high if you ask me. Upon reaching Speculator Route 8 will merge with Route 30. On this road you will find the trailhead for Auger Falls. There is usually amble space to park. Follow the trail from the parking lot towards another opening that almost resembles a parking space. You will see what looks like two trail openings straight ahead. You can take either, but be sure to TAKE A RIGHT turn when they open onto the trail. A short walk along the Sacandaga River will reveal a series of rapids before ultimately opening up to your destination. What appears to be a primitive campsite, ironically with a “no camping sign” next to it, is where you will discover Auger Falls in all its glory. It can be viewed from a few different points as it cascades down a series of narrow rock ledges. Practice safety, be respectful! Nature is not responsible for YOU getting too close, having poor footing, or falling in.

At this point I felt the full spirit of the Adirondacks envelope me. Could I really wrap up my adventure? Did I NEED to go eat at Tony Harper’s already? NO! I figured I already drove this far, so why not drive the full distance to one of my top 3 favorite places in New York State, The Adirondack High Peaks region. My mind was set. The Adirondack Adventure would not end. Before departing the Auger Falls Trailhead I researched trail conditions. I figured my best bet this time of year would be to hike one of the smaller Lake Placid 9ers or Saranac 6ers. The Adirondacks offer a wide variety of hiking challenges. There is bound to be at least one within your wheel house of possibilities. Here are a few Adirondack hiking challenges that I am currently working on:

1) High Peak 46er

2) Adirondack Fifty Falls Challenge

3) Lake Plaicd 9er

4) Lake George 12ster

5) Saranac 6er

When choosing a hike it is important to know your own limitations. Identify the total mileage, elevation gain/loss, and the difficulty rating of the hike. For my hike I chose Mount Jo, a member of the Lake Placid 9ers. Mount Jo is a great way to experience the breathtaking beauty of the Adirondacks without needing a full day. There is an elevation gain of 692 feet and in total the loop trail is only 1.8 miles. If you are a frequent hiker in the Adirondacks and you want to show off the region to less abled family or friends then I would recommend Mount Jo. The hike does not require too much physical effort and can be completed within a short period of time. For my hike I avoided the 1.8 mile loop trail and instead went up and down the same trail (the shorter of two options). See https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/new-york/mount-jo-loop-trail for details on the trail approaches.

Algonquin Mountain, the second highest peak in NYS, seen from the top of Mount Jo.

I was blessed with panoramic views all around and as per usual I started testing my skills as to how many peaks I could identify. The hike proved to be easier than I thought. I had planned to hike Mount Jo in time to unwind and watch the sunset, however, I was really early! It was worth it though. I spent almost two hours on top of Mount Jo thinking of the finer things in life and how beautiful a moment I was living in. The Adirondacks has an interesting way of offering you introspection and retrosepection at the same time. Remember to pause and breathe. Take in your surroundings. Each moment is magical.

Summer is less than a month away so trail conditions should be improving. Nonetheless, research each of your hikes ahead of time. Know where to park, how long it will take you, and what sort of equipment you should have packed. Understand the trail conditions and your own level of hiking experience. Remember that it is through our shared efforts that we maintain the "Forever Wild" nature of the Adirondack Park. If you carry something in, you damn well better carry it out too. Practice safe, common sense leave no trace practices ( https://lnt.org/ ).

\/\/\/\/ Check out the Good Morning Upstate Episode vlog of this trip! \/\/\/\/


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