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Porter Mountain – Keene, NY

Posted on: August 22nd, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

Porter_Mtn_from_Rooster_CombNumber 38 on the list of high peaks is Porter Mountain.  Though it is is partially overshadowed by its neighbor, Cascade, it is a rewarding climb.  It boasts wide views from the summit, and has especially beautiful views of Johns Brook Valley to the east.  Though the summit is not bald it offers 360 degree views (though it may require a bit of maneuvering around to see them, due to foliage).  This summit is typically less crowded than Cascade, and is a great hike for beginners as most of the trails are moderate grade.  There also plenty of things to look at along the way, and it’s quite easy to jog over to Cascade.

Porter is frequently climbed with Cascade, and most hikers attempting to join Adirondack 46er Club begin with these two peaks.

There are three trails leading to Porter.  You can begin from the Garden Parking Lot at Keen for a 3.8 mi hike to the summit.  You can begin at Marcy Airfield for a 4.5 mi hike to the summit that also takes you over Blueberry Mountain.  Or you can begin at Cascade Mountain and climb both peaks which is 6.4 miles round trip.

The trail from the Garden parking lot has the most moderate grade, but it is also the most difficult place to park.  Marcy Airfield offers ample free parking, but it is the longest and most difficult trail.   The trail over Cascade is the shortest route, but again, parking can be an issue.  Improperly parked cars will be towed.  Remember to fill out a trip ticket at the trailhead so you can avoid any fines.

The most used trail is the one going over Cascade.  It is a 2.4 mile trail that gains 1940 feet in elevation.  It is very easy to follow the red plastic markers to Cascade’s bare summit.   From there you’ll be offered 360 degree views.  Once you’ve taken in your fill of the scene, there is a 1.0 mile hike to the summit of Porter.  You will have to hike 0.3 miles back to the junction on the trail and turn left.  There will be a short descent into a col, before the trail begins to climb again.  You will reach a large boulder, 0.9 miles from Cascade, to the right of which is a beautiful view.   From here you will climb along a ridge and reach the summit of Porter.

The Marcy Airfield trail can be reached by parking in the lot just past Marcy Field along Rt 73.   This hike is 9.0 miles round trip and quite steep.  Follow the woods road until you come to the foot trail on the left.   This trail leads over Blueberry Mountain, and some parts of it are quite eroded.  The views from the summit are breathtaking, however, and well worth the exertion.  From Blueberry mountain you will continue along the steep, eroded path to approach Porter from the south east, along a ridge.  This ridge is a more moderate climb, which some pretty views before reaching the summit.

The Garden trail can be found by following Rt 73 out of Lake Placid to Keene Valley.  Turn right after the Ausable Inn and follow along the road until it ends at the Garden Parking Lot.  This trail is 7.6 miles round trip.  The trail is quite moderate to the base of Little Porter and has plenty to see along the way.  There are pretty meadows and remnants of the 1903 fire.  The climb becomes quite steep for the last 1/4 mile up to the summit of Little Porter, but there are number rock staircases to aid you.  From Little Porter the trail can be quite wet, and erosion is evident.  It remains quite steep, and joins the Marcy Field trail not far below the summit of Porter Mountain.

There are many different trails to the summit of Porter Mountain and each offers something different.   The summit offers spectacular 360 degree views, and is typically less crowded than some of the more popular high peaks.  It’s also very easy to hike Cascade in the same day!

Dial Mountain – Keene Valley, NY

Posted on: August 15th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

800px-Dial_Mtn_from_NoonmarkCommonly climbed with Nippletop due to its location on the same ridge, Dial Mountain is number 41 on the list of high peaks.   It is considered one of the classic hikes in the area and boasts beautiful views from the summit, though they are somewhat limited to the west.

Depending on your route of approach you will either have to first summit Nippletop, or Noonmark and Bears Den.   The primary route takes you over Nippletop.    From this trail to Dial it is a 10 mile hike, round trip (including road walking).

Hikers must park at the designated parking lot for the Roaring Brook Trail.  It is located off Rt. 73, 3 miles south of the High Peaks sign in Keene.  From this lot, there is a 0.5 mile walk heading west along the gravel road, past the golf course, to Lake Road (and the trailhead).   This trail is in the Adironadack Mountain Reserve.  Hikers should be aware that there is no camping, hunting, or fishing, and no off trail travel.  Dogs and other pets are absolutely prohibited.  Hikers must fill out a trip ticket at the trailhead.  If a ranger finds you without one, you may be fined and you will not be able to continue your hike.

This trail is especially nice in summer because it is quite shady.  The foliage is also very pretty in late August and early September.

Once you’ve reached the trailhead at Lake Road Way.  Continue on to the Gate House where you can register.  A wooden gate lies just beyond, though which you will follow a dirt road for about 0.7 miles.  The start of the trail begins on the left.

The climb will begin immediately off of this road and become increasingly steeper until you reach the shoulder of Noonmark.  At this area you can see the evidence from a major forest fire that swept through the area several years ago.  From here there will be a rapid descent, but you will begin climbing again quickly as you summit Bear Den Mountain.  The summit is fully wooded.    The descent from here is moderate, until you make your final climb to the summit of Dial Mountain.

If you turn around from here it is about 10 miles round trip.  You can also continue and include Nippletop, which will make your trip about 16 miles round trip.

Dial is considered one of the classic hikes of the Adirondacks and shouldn’t be missed by any experienced hiker. Its views of the High Peaks region are unrivaled, and it is one of the more pleasant hikes in summer and fall.


Nippletop – Keene Valley, NY

Posted on: August 13th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

Nippletop is luck number 13 on the 46er list! Though its summit is far from bald, it offers one of the prettiest views of the high peaks, overlooking Elk Pass and offering a great view of Mt. Clovin and the rest of the great range.  It is commonly climbed with Dial Mountain because they are along the same ridge.

The primary trailhead, which takes you directly to Nippletop, is known for being one of the wetter trails of the 46 peaks.  It can be quite muddy.  The secondary trail, over Bear Den and Dial, is much dryer, but has a much longer ascent.

To reach the primary trailhead, you can find the designated hikers parking lot of Rt 73.  It is located across the road from the Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead for Giant Mountain.  There is room for about 30 cars, and this lot can fill up quickly on weekends.  Be aware that hikers can park in designated areas only, and parking is checked frequently.  Don’t let your car get towed!

As this trail is located within the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, there is no camping, hunting, or off trail travel, and no dogs or other pets allowed.  You must fill out and carry with you a “trip ticket” at the trailhead.  If you don’t, you may be fined, and a park ranger will not allow you to continue your hike.

The trailhead is along the road.  You will have to walk until you come to a wooden gate, which leads to a dirt road.  Follow this for 2.5 miles until you reach a foot trail.  The foot trail begins as a moderate climb, but gradually becomes stepper in places.  Pass the trail for Indian Head and for Fish Hawk Cliffs.  When you reach the trail for Clovin and Blake you will begin a relaxed climb to Elk Pass.  Elk Pass offers beautiful views in its own right.   However, this is a very wet section of the trail!

You will pass through three beaver ponds and then the climb will become very steep.  This will even out and leave you 0.1 miles from the summit.  It is another very steep climb to the top, and the trail can be quite narrow in spots, but views are continuous, and are some of the best of all the 46 peaks!  You will be able to see Elk Pass below, and you may be surprised that it is only about 500m below!

The Farmhouse Tap and Grill – Burlington, VT

Posted on: August 8th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

Styling themselves a “beer oasis,” Farmhouse Tap and Grill  has 24 taps of craft beers, most of them local.  But beer is far from the only thing they serve at this gastropup!

Farmhouse foster strong connections with local farmers and producers so that they can showcase the best that Vermont has to offer.   Through these connections they are able to bring you award winning burgers made with local beef, re-imagined comfort foods, house cured meats, imaginative specials, and of course, Vermont cheese plates!

Burgers are served with house made condiments and on buns incredibly buttery and crisp! Delicious seasonal items include Kale and sausage soup or Vermont Cheddar Ale soup.  And they’re menu isn’t limited to dinner.  Check them out for lunch during the week, where you can find smoked bratwurst, pulled tarragon chicken salad, or the “ridiculously local” BLT.  Or stop by for brunch on the weekend and try the House Bennies with Canadian bacon, poached eggs, and hollandaise on a house made English muffin, with a side of hash browns and dressed greens!

While their menu is wonderful, this place is really a beer nerd’s paradise.  Hill Farmstead, Lawsons, and Heady Topper are frequently on draught.  There are frequently very rare taps like a 2 year barrel aged Meat Whistle by Magic Hat.   And you aren’t limited to what’s on draught! There are tons of bottles, and many of them are quite rare.  The outdoor beer garden is a great place to enjoy one of their many amazing brews. Be sure to check out their website for tap takeovers!

Hen of the Wood – Burlington, VT

Posted on: August 7th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

With the goal of delivering a truly “Vermont” experience by highlighting the area’s most exciting foods, Hen of the Wood delivers one of the most exquisite dining experiences that you can find in Burlington.   Impeccable plates, stellar service, and a uniquely styled dining room all make this a destination restaurant.  It’s worth the trip to Burlington all on its own!

As you walk in you can immediately smell the wood fired grill.  Animal heads are interspersed between gorgeous wood accents and light fixtures all leading to the open kitchen, where you can watch your food being prepared at the open spit, the roaring grill, or the staging area.  A walk down the hallway allows you to have a look into the curing room for the meats.

You’ll find that nearly everything at Hen of the Wood is made in house, right down to the vinegar.  Meals are prepared only with the freshest ingredients available from the the Green Mountains and Champlain Valley, and the menu changes daily to reflect this.

While menu items do change daily, you’ll find amazing and daring creations like rabbit livers with pickled chanterbell mushrooms; delightfully light fried sticks of polenta and potato with aioli; smoked dish pate with house made crackers; chicken roulades with a blueberry reduction, fried green tomatoes, and creamed corn; fantastically decadent chocolate budino with a peppermint granita and cookie crumble.

Food is not the only amazing thing they craft at Hen of the Wood.  They also create masterful cocktails, making many ingredients in house.   House cocktails are daring, innovative (not to mention potent!) and well executed.  Try some of their barrel aged Toronto! It’s unbelievably good.   They also have a fairly extensive list of local craft beers on tap.

Staff are attentive, but not annoyingly so, and are well trained.  Each one is knowledgeable about the menu, the ingredients, and the preparation and time that goes into the food.  They welcome questions and are more than happy to make suggestions.

Hen of the Wood is an absolute must visit while in Burlington.  Reservations are strongly recommended, as space tends to fill up quickly.  However, the restaurant is casual, lacks any pretension, and manages to deliver an exquisitely executed dining experience down to the very last detail.

ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center – Burlington, VT

Posted on: August 2nd, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

800px-ECHOBurlingtonIf you’re looking for a great hands on adventure that will wow children of all ages, look no further.  ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center has everything you need to entertain your 6 year old, your 17 year old, and yourself!

While there is a small aquarium here, it is primarily a science center which explores the ecology and environmental challenges in the area. The science center explores the many creatures living in and around Lake Champlain.  Through films, hands on exhibits, and traditional museum displays you’ll learn about Lake Champlain, the wetlands, and even weather and how it effects the area.

Explore cool exhibits like the Into the Lake Exhibit where you can operate your own Remote Operated Vehicle and explore the General Butler shipwreck! Maneuver through a 7,000 gallon lake tank and gain a better understanding of how ROVs are used to explore not only shipwrecks, but deep water, and how it helps scientists to better understand those environments.

The frog exhibit is especially interesting.  Featuring frogs from all over the world, learn to identify frog calls from different frogs, watch them at feeding time, and learn about how frogs are an “early indicator” species and how they can help us identify problems with the environment.

If you need a bit of a breather, let your kids explore the museum while you enjoy the fantastic view of the Adirondacks out on the deck!

All of ECHO’s employees and volunteers are incredibly helpful and full of great information! You won’t get any scripted responses here.  Be sure to stop and ask if you have any questions about any exhibits.  You’ll learn some interesting information that isn’t on the plaques!

If you’re a member of a museum at home be sure to mention it at the front when you buy your admission tickets.  You may be eligible for a discount! Also be sure to check their website for discount vouchers on admittance.


The Willard Street Inn – Burlington, VT

Posted on: August 1st, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

There is only one word to describe the Willard Street Inn: Perfect.  From check in to check out your stay will be as relaxing as easy as you can imagine.

This quaint inn was built in 1881 and it has maintained all of its Victorian charm and grandeur.  You will walk through the double front doors into the cherry paneled foyer and be awed by the grand staircase and elegant antique decor. Each of the fourteen guestrooms is uniquely decorated to preserve the historic charm whilst not compromising on modern comfort.  Each guest room has its own private bath, though not all are en-suite.   Aside from the cozy guest rooms you’ll also find the inn has several comfortable sitting areas, both inside and on the deck.

When you first check in to the inn you’ll receive a tour that will explain all of the amenities, of which there are many! A working kitchen, a mini fridge for guests, bottle openers and chillers to bring to your room, and much more.  You’ll also find an array of freshly backed cookies and hot coffee and tea.   In warmer months you’ll be free to explore the lawn and English gardens.  When you make it to your room you’ll find more freshly baked cookies and locally made chocolate!

Breakfast at this B&B is something not to be missed! You’ll start off with a selection of muffins and scones that are to die for.  You’ll have several choices for breakfast, but the waffles might just be the best you’ve ever tasted! And the Eggs Benedict are divine.  Everything is served with a side of fresh fruit, grown in the inn’s garden, as well as a selection of juices and tea and coffee.

The location cannot be beat! It’s a very quick walk to Church Street, and downtown Burlington.  In your room you’ll find restaurant guides, menus, and plenty of maps that will allow you to plan your tour of downtown Burlington, most of which can be reached on foot from your hotel!

If you fancy a day in the gardens are a beautiful spot to sit and relax with your thoughts or your journal.  The solarium makes for an excellent reading spot.  And you’ll have no trouble finding a way to relax in your luxurious accommodations!

The Willard Street Inn is the perfect place to stay if you want a bed and breakfast feel without the feeling that you’re intruding in someone’s home.  It’s atmosphere is quaint and romantic, and its staff are helpful and accommodating without being intrusive.   Its wonderful accommodations and excellent location make it the perfect place to stay in Burlington!

Panther Peak – Newcomb, NY

Posted on: July 27th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

Panther_Peak_seen_from_Bradley_Pond_leantoA gateway to the Santononi Range, Panther Peak gets its name for the mountain lions which once roamed the Adirondacks.  It is the most climbed peak in the Santanoni Range, and the view it offers is one that shouldn’t be missed!  It is frequently climbed with Couchaschraga Peak or Santanoni Peak.

The primary trailhead can be accessed by taking the Blue Ridge Road exit off of I-87.  Follow this road toward Newcomb for 18 miles.  Turn right on Tahawus Road and take a left at the sign for Mt. Marcy and the High Peaks Trails.  Parking is about 2 miles from the sign.

A warning: this trail is known as the wettest train in the Adirondacks, and for good reason! You will need to wade through water, and you will come across many slippery surfaces.

 Follow the gravel road and then take a sharp right on the foot trail for this 12.5 mile (round trip) hike.   You will come to a brook which you will need to ford because the bridge is out.  The next bridge is not well maintained but can be crossed, however be cautious as it is quite high up and very slippery.

You will pass some beautiful cascades at around 3.5 miles.  A few yards beyond you will find a cairn which marks the beginning of the path to Santanoni. About a mile further along, another cairn marks the path to Panther.  This herd path remains relatively flat until you pass Bradly Pond and then begins a very steep climb above the pond, where it becomes a more moderate ascent.  You will come across Panther Brook and follow it to the top of the ridge.  Here you will come to a junction.  If you go to the right you will go to the summit of Panther (about .5 miles).  If you go left you can head to Couchsachraga and Santanoni.

While this path is wet and slippery it offers beautiful views, not only from its summit but along its path.  You’re treated to brooks darting through forests, and cascades spilling over rocks as you make your way up to the summit.  It is a must see!

Saddleback Mountain – Keene, NY

Posted on: July 26th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

Saddleback_MountainOften climbed with several other peaks, Saddleback Mountain offers astounding views from its summit.  The route to the top is demanding as the terrain is quite untamed, but the view from the summit is almost completely unobscured.

Saddleback is frequently climbed along the Great Range Trail with Lower Wolfjaw and Upper Wolfjaw, with Gothics and Armstrong, or with Haystack and Basin.  To reach this trail you can park at The Garden or in overflow parking at Marcy Field.

Hike toward Johns Brook Lodge.  There you can take the Ore Bed Trail which leads to the Great Range Trail.  The Ore Bed Trail is quite demanding.  You will reach a steep area that looks like a slide.  It is not a slide, however, and steps and ladders have been put in place to make climbing it more accessible.  This approach is about 7 miles round trip.

While the trip to the summit is very challenging and requires a certain daredevil attitude in some spots (or at least a willingness to be exposed to the elements along the rock face) the climb is rewarded with some truly amazing views.  Offering almost 360 degrees of unobscured views, Saddleback allows you to see far and wide over the Great Range and Keene Valley.


Basin Mountain – Keene Valley, NY

Posted on: July 25th, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

800px-Basin_Mountain_(NY)Number nine of the Adirondacks High Peaks is Basin Mountain.  The route to the top is marked by narrow ledges and steep climbs, but the summit boasts some of the finest views of any of the peaks.

This trail contains a piece of Adirondack history! Keep an eye out of a large bolt place in a rock near the East side of the summit.  It was placed there by Verplanck Colvin during is 1876 survey of the Adirondacks.  This peak was named by Colvin for the many basins that form on its slopes.

The trail crosses many sections of steep rock, large amounts of open ground, and has some areas that are very dangerous when wet or when covered in ice or snow.  In winter cornices can form along the ridge.  Some sections of the trail pass over exposed ridges and must be traversed with extreme caution as any fall would be fatal.  However, this trail is considered one of the most spectacular in the area.

Because this trail can be tricky it is not recommended you do it with back packs.  It’s better to take a different trail around this section and hike this as a day trip, or hike it from Haystack to Gothics with packs.

While the summit can be reached from my different trailheads, the shortest route is from The Gardens in Keene Valley.  It is about 14 miles round trip.  Remember that the parking lot at the Gardens fills up quickly, but there is a shuttle that runs in summer for overflow parking.

Take the Phelps Trail to the Interior Outpost.  From there you can go straight to the East start of the trail via the Ore Bed Trail.  You can also go around to the West by continuing on the Phelps trail.  You can also walk these as a loop.

Another popular trailhead is at Adirondack Loj.   Take the Van Hoevenberg Trail and then the cutoff for Haystack.

The South side of the summit is tree covered and doesn’t offer many views, however the West side is bare and offers stunning views of Gothics, Marcy, and Haystack.