Exit 30 of the New York State Northway, I87, is, in a way, a magical portal. After passing Lake George, only the serious seem to venture to Exit 30 and either drive straight through to Lake Placid, or stop and venture into some of the wilderness that awaits you. This is, after all, land of the High Peaks–all 46 of them. And so many hikers find themselves guilty of counting numbers of high peaks and utterly bypassing some of the more beautiful mountains. That is, the emphasis becomes number counting, rather than the beauty that attracted us to mountain climbing in the first place.
So it goes with Snow Mountain: A smaller mountain, but in size only, as the views it offers are as big and beautiful as they get. And because it’s not a high peak, this little gem often gets overlooked by its bigger brothers and sisters. From its summit, you see a lot of the siblings: Giant Mountain stands tall and proud in the foreground, while Dix and others standing tall and proud in the background, guarding their younger sister.
If you’re into beauty and meandering, a stunning waterfalls, and taking time to stop and smell the roses–or, for that matter, wild blueberry plants and an assortment of wild flower varietals everywhere–you get a lot of bang for your buck on Snow Mountain.
Perhaps one of the reasons this mountain is left lonely but not all alone, is that she is difficult to find. While the high peaks have their bold new signs, about 8 1/2 miles up 73, on the left, Snow Mountain is surrounded with no such fanfare. There’s not a ton of cars parked there–but you’ll find a few. Instead, the only marker is a small wooden painted sign on the side of the road.
There’s two entrances to the path: Deer Brook, which is a rocky and slipperly trail that criss-crosses the stream at least four times as it works its way up the gorge; and a more beaten down path about a hundred feet to the east. Our ADK guide took us through the gorge on the way there while our legs still had some muscle in them, and on the way back, we took the trail
This hike, however, can actually be three hikes in one. You can go to Snow Mountain via the gorge. You can turn left and find one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever seen. Or you can go straight and climb Rooster Comb.
The hike to the waterfalls was so easy, I may actually bring my seven year old. It’s really pretty tame. Only when you get to the summit of the Snow does the terrain get rather nasty.
And if you do bring children, I would certainly take the path and not the gorge. I did not bring a walking stick and the rocks were slippery–slippery. So if you bring kids, or don’t like climbing over slippery boulders, simply take the trail a hundred feet to your left and it’s clear sailing.
As you can see, this gorge is beautiful. If you can stop for a second and not worry about falling and breaking something, the views are magnificent. You’re walking along this brook, surrounded by huge walls of rock, trees and caves.
The brook itself is a meandering stream, forming almost one huge cascading waterfalls.
After we finished with the gorge, we crossed over and hook up with the walking trail. A wee-bit up, and we are faced with our three options: The falls, Rooster Comb and Snow. We did the falls and Snow, saving Rooster Comb for another day because of the time element.
And here is one of the most beautiful falls I have ever seen, but 250 feet off the trail.
After a 15 minute rest to take in the beauty, backtrack and off to Snow we go.
When we start to reach the summit of Snow Mountain, the hiking does get rough, steep, and a bit dangerous.
And here we are. Wild blueberries everywhere. Good company, a great group, and views that are just incredible.
And as someone on the top reminded me: “Careful. It’s never the fall. It’s the sudden stop at the end.”
Thanks to Ken and his wife, and the great group of fellow ADK members who made this trip so enjoyable.