62 Days of Summer
Hiking is one of my favorite pastimes, and when I can get away for a whole day, there’s not much I like more than tramping up and down a mountain.
But you don’t even need a whole day: There are lots of short hikes in the Lake George and Southern Adirondack regions that make fine adventures: Crane Mountain, Buck, Pilot Knob, Black.
My favorite is Hadley Mountain, because it’s close to my house, it’s short but strenuous and the view is tremendous. There’s a fire tower, rocky crevices to explore and another mountain nearby (Round Top) you can hike to. My family has been up so many times the kids have named most of the rocks and rocky features — the garbage truck, the table top, the baseball stadium, the giant’s causeway. It’s home to us.
We’ve taken friends and visiting family members up dozens of times. Did I mention it’s kind of strenuous? It’s less than 2 miles to the top but the
climb is pretty unrelenting, at least for the first two-thirds. Those visitors have started complaining.
“We’re coming over and want to go hiking and HADLEY IS TOO HARD,” read an email from a Minnesota friend. “Remember we are flatlanders now.”
And the last time I took my sister up, she told everyone who came to dinner that night, “Hadley is horrible.”
I tried not to get too offended. And I found a guest mountain: Sleeping Beauty.
It’s a lovely hike. It’s about the same distance as Hadley — 1.8 miles to the summit — but because the path has switchbacks, it’s never hard. You hike through the woods, over stone ridges, at a pace that allows chatting. And when you get to the top, there’s a great view of Buck and Little Buck mountains, Tongue Mountain jutting into Lake George, the lake itself and more mountains on the other side.
“On top it is very, very beautiful,” a tiny, dark-haired girl told me as I headed to the summit two weeks ago.
Little kids can hike it. Flatlanders don’t complain. I’ve taken small Floridian nieces who had never walked a hill let alone a mountain. They all loved it.
And the summit offers lots of different outcroppings to climb on, so that even if there are half a dozen hiking parties on top you can each have a private picnic.
The trail head is in Fort Ann, 9.5 miles off Route 149 down Buttermilk Falls Road. From the first parking lot there’s a seasonal dirt road you can take to the next lot — Dacy Clearing — almost two miles in. The one-lane dirt road is closed during mud and winter seasons, and sometimes it’s pretty rough for a regular car, which means you might have to figure some road walking distance into your total hike if the road is closed.
Two weeks ago the road was in good shape — even for a low-clearance sub-compact car like mine.
We were with a couple of New York City friends who’ve done their fair share of Hadley hikes. They were happy with the idea of an easier one, and Sleeping Beauty offered just the right balance of nature and accomplishment: a perfect outing without too much work.