Last Friday I took the day off from work to take advantage of the beautiful day and hike another fire tower peak. And to start getting miles under my feet on trails. With my September race quickly approaching, I’m scrambling to hike as much as I can.
This trail head is almost 2.5 hours away from our doorstep, just a few miles off of Exit 33 on the Northway. I hit the road at 5:30AM and was geared up and walking into the woods at 8:03AM… without any bug spray! I couldn’t believe I drove that far and didn’t pack any bug spray. I almost panicked because last month when I had hiked the mosquitoes were UNBEARABLE, and I wasn’t about to turn around. More on this topic to come…
I decided to hike the Observer’s Trail because I wanted as many miles under me as I could, especially because it was such a long drive. Out and back, this trail only totals 5 miles. Almost immediately the trail starts to head up but gradually and nothing to make me stop and need to catch my breath. It was a gorgeous sunny morning and everything looked so green! And because I was hiking solo, my senses were heightened; every chipmunk seemed to make me jump! And there were a lot of them! But I think I scared them too, many of them peeling out making their little screeching noises.
Before I knew it I came to a clearing that’s flooded due to beaver activity. After reading reviews, I was curious how the crossing would be and it was just dried mud but I could see how it would be a problem in the spring or after some heavy rain. I snapped a couple photographs and continued up.
There was a short section just below another clearing where the trail was wet with a small stream running. Nothing sketchy but I made a mental note for the run down. Eventually you come upon a short landing with a privy and lean-to; if you were to continue straight at this junction, you’d start heading DOWN the mountain and down the trail that begins in the old campground two miles up from where I started out. You want to take a left toward the old caretaker’s cabin remains to reach the tower. It’s clearly marked, especially if you turn around and look back at the lean-to (sign is on the front of the lean-to). From there, it’s only .3 up, pretty easily, with a gorgeous view southwest toward the 4,000ers.
Walking past the tower, there’s a spectacular view! Not only can you see the tallest ADK peaks, but you can look across Lake Champlain and see the Green Mountains. And if you work up the courage to climb the tower (I only went up three sets of stairs), you can clearly see more of Vermont and the lake. I sat up there for about 20 minutes eating a snack and snapping photographs, soaking up the views all by myself.
I was back and forth about running down the mountain because A. it was such a long drive and I didn’t want to rush things and B. I didn’t want to fall and get hurt and be alone in the woods, hurt. But once I hit the trail down, I started moving and grooving, convinced someone had to pass me eventually on this gorgeous day. And they did, a summit steward, about a half mile from the trail head. But I hadn’t fallen and I wasn’t hurt, so I didn’t stop and just shouted hello as I zipped passed.
I was back in the car and on the road at 9:40AM.
And didn’t have a single bug bite. There was the occasional buzz from a black fly on the way up but nothing annoying, even on the summit with the occasional breeze. Golly did I get lucky!
I loved this hike and wish it was closer to home. I’ll have to hike it again with my friend that’s just starting his tower challenge. Oh! And you can see the tower as you’re driving up the Northway, which got me excited and pumped to hike, especially while blasting the Black Eyed Peas. There were a ton of cars parked in the old campground when I left, I’m assuming to rock climb; the rock face is impressive!
This tower brought my count to 21/23