The MWOBS Staff's Must-See Mt. Washington Highlights for Seek the Peak

The White Mountains, and Mount Washington in particular, are one of the region’s most densely-packed trail areas. This means you have several options when you head up for Seek the Peak. But, to figure out your route, what’s better than to start with advice from the folks who spend day after day working on the mountains? So, check out the favorite trails and sections from these Mount Washington Observatory employees—the guys who know the region better than anyone.

Credit: Tom Padham
Credit: Tom Padham

Mount Jefferson via Caps Ridge Trail

By Tom Padham, Meteorologist/Education Specialist

While not a hike up Mount Washington, this trail has so much to offer: great views, a relatively short length, and some interesting rock scrambles. The trail starts on Jefferson Notch road at roughly 3,000 feet—the highest of any trailhead in the White Mountains. As such, things open up only a mile or so into the hike, and after a short while, unobstructed views of the Presidential Range and Mount Washington emerge.

The “Caps” section consists of three short rock scrambles. It’s nothing requiring technical gear but enough to offer a great change of pace—and may be the first time you use all four limbs to climb a mountain! Overall, this hike is far shorter than many of the other routes to summit a Presidential Peak, but it still offers some challenges, with nearly 2,700 feet of vertical gain in only 2.4 miles. This is my favorite hike, because it manages to pack so much into just a few short and very beautiful miles!

The view from the Southern Presidentials. | Credit: Sean Greaney
The view from the Southern Presidentials. | Credit: Sean Greaney

Davis Path

By Brian Fitzgerald, Director of Education

Totaling roughly 14 miles from Crawford Notch to the summit of Mount Washington, the Davis Path is one of the oldest and longest approaches to the Northeast’s highest peak. Constructed back in 1845 as a bridle path, this trail is an exhausting ridge hike for an ambitious day-hiker, and a very pleasant multi-day approach for backpackers. Along the way, hikers get stunning views as they summit Mount Crawford, Stairs Mountain, Mount Davis, Mount Isolation, and Mount Washington itself.

The Westside Trail

By Brian Fitzgerald, Director of Education

At over 5,500 feet in elevation and just below the peak of Mount Washington, the Westside Trail is one of the best places to escape the crowds on a pleasant summer day. At 9/10ths of a mile, the trail follows the mountain’s contour, providing excellent views to the west between the Crawford Path and Gulfside Trail. For staff who live and work on the mountain, this is the perfect loop to run when you want to get outside!

Looking North from the Bootspur trail towards Mt. Washington. | Credit: Matthew Charpentier
Looking north from the Boott Spur Trail towards Mt. Washington. | Credit: Matthew Charpentier

Ball Crag via the Nelson Crag Trail

By Ryan Knapp, Meteorologist

After you summit Mount Washington, this can be made into a spur hike or an alternate route down (via the Nelson Crag Trail). While Ball Crag’s technically not a summit and is instead classified as a subsidiary of Mount Washington, the rise in land does come to an elevation of 6,066 feet, based on the Washburn map. From the summit, take a 0.18-mile hike down the Nelson Crag Trail, which will bring you to this rise in land. Here, get sweeping views of Pinkham Notch to the east, the Great Gulf to the west and north, and a unique perspective of Mount Washington to the south.

Boott Spur Trail

By Ryan Knapp, Meteorologist

If you’re looking for a more intimate mountain experience on the east side, away from the crowds on the Tuckerman Ravine/Lion Head Trail, Boott Spur Trail is an excellent choice. This 5.7-mile, one-way trail is a longer route to and from the summit and can be significantly more challenging for hikers. For those willing to put in the time and effort, it provides great views, with plenty of flora and fauna to take in the entire time.
This trail puts hikers above treeline quickly, and for a large portion of the trip, you’ve got those great views. However, you will also be exposed to the elements for significantly longer. So, check the forecast and pack and prepare for any changes in the weather you might experience over the course of a day. And, since this route is longer, it requires more time to ascend and descend.
Mount Washington from Madison. | Credit: Tim Peck
Mount Washington from Madison. | Credit: Tim Peck

Mt. Madison via the Valley Way Trail

By Taylor Regan, Weather Observer and Research Specialist

Weather and fitness permitting, this route could be the start of a Presidential Traverse or simply a nice and fairly challenging hike on its own. Mount Madison via the Valley Way Trail rises relentlessly from the Appalachia Trailhead, gaining over 4,000 feet of elevation in roughly 3.8 miles while passing close to several detour-worthy cascades and waterfalls. This sustained effort brings you to the outermost edge of the Northern Presidentials, with sweeping views of Mount Washington and the ribbon-like Auto Road tracing its way upward in the foreground. The summit of Madison is easily one of my favorite vista points.

Mount Washington via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail and Lion Head Route

By Taylor Regan, Weather Observer and Research Specialist

The Lion Head summer route begins along the Tuckerman Ravine Trail out of Pinkham Notch. Two of my favorite sections actually bookend this hike. Shortly after leaving the parking lot, take a slight detour to Crystal Cascade: a stunning waterfall with a total drop of 100 feet, split in two by a small pool. Much farther along, once you’ve crested Lion Head, views open up along a relatively flat traverse flanked by the Alpine Garden on your right—check for rare alpine flowers—and Tuckerman Ravine, often with snow and ice remnants along the headwall, on your left. The summit proper is then only a moderate scramble away.


Alpha Guide: Mount Monadnock's White Dot & White Cross Trails

alpha Guides | Better than beta.

No American mountain has been climbed by more people than this southern New Hampshire classic, and for good reason. 

Mount Monadnock has many distinctions. It’s the second-most climbed mountain in the world, it’s one of only 13 mountains on the list of National Natural Landmarks, and its summit is the only place where it’s possible to see all six New England states at once. On this miraculous mountain, the most popular route is the four-mile loop via the White Dot and White Cross trails. This absolute classic is a must-do trip for every New Englander.

Quick Facts

Distance: 4 miles, out-and-back
Time to Complete: Half day for most
Difficulty: ★★
Scenery:★★★★


Season: Year-round. Best from May through October
Fees/Permits: $5/person, and $2 for children ages 6-12. Children 5 and under are free.
Contact: https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/monadnock-state-park.aspx

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Turn-By-Turn

People coming to Mount Monadnock from the Boston area will want to follow Route 2 West to its connection with Route 140 North (exit 24B). After roughly nine miles, Route 140 becomes MA 12 North. Continue on MA 12 until its intersection with US 202, and then, follow US 202 over the Massachusetts-New Hampshire state line through the town of Rindge and eventually into the quaint town center of Jaffrey. In Jaffrey center, take a left onto Route 124 West. Follow 124 West for about two miles, before taking a right onto Dublin Road. From here, simply follow the signs to the parking lot.

People coming to Monadnock by way of Interstates 93 or 95 can simply exit onto US 101 West and take it to US 202 West, and then, use the directions from above. The only difference will be taking a right turn onto Route 124 West instead of a left.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Into the Woods

Hiking Mount Monadnock via the White Dot and White Cross trails is quite straightforward. Leave the parking lot in the direction of the Park Store, and continue past the store toward the restrooms. If nature calls, it’s worth taking the opportunity to go here, as the trail can be busy, and privacy may be hard to come by from here on out. Just past the restroom is the well-marked trailhead (42.845619, -72.088699).

The trail starts off wide, allowing enough room for hiking shoulder to shoulder. And, on busy weekends, it gives hikers the chance to disperse before the terrain gets more technical. Although this section is neither wide nor steep, the trail is littered with chunky rocks and roots, so watch your step.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Choices

After roughly a half-mile, hikers will come to the intersection of the White Dot and White Cross trails (42.851715, -72.091652). Although hikers may do the hike in either direction, the preferred and most common way is to hike up the White Dot Trail and descend via the White Cross Trail, as White Dot’s steep, slabby terrain is easier to negotiate going uphill.

To continue on the White Dot Trail, just follow the painted white dots straight ahead. Soon, the trail begins to steepen, and the day’s first challenge, a series of steep, slick ledges, comes into view. Finding traction here requires careful footwork, however. Over the years, many people have climbed this exact route, leaving the stone polished and smooth in places. Concerned about the slabs? Take an extra moment to evaluate where you are going, and often, an easy path will present itself.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

A short while later, you’ll come across the Cascade Link junction (42.853878, -72.092758). Stay straight. From here, the trail weaves through the forest and scrambles up short sections of steep rock slabs. As the slabs open up, make sure to turn around and take in the view. Here, the Wapack Range is quite prominent.

As you get above treeline, the trail stops ascending and begins corkscrewing around the mountain, and you’ll wonder if you’re staring at the summit. You’re not. It’s a false summit, and you’ve still got a little farther to go. Here, you’ll encounter a series of open ledges, which can be a great place to have a snack if your group is so inclined.

After this, there’s some more slab climbing, until you come to a large sign that marks the intersection of the White Dot and White Cross Trails (42.859726, -72.104698). You’re not done yet, so continue upward.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The Final Push

After the junction, the trail steepens, and you’ll be traveling entirely on rock up to the summit. At this point, you’ve surpassed the trail’s most difficult sections, but don’t let your guard down when the summit comes in sight. You’ve still got to get through a few spots requiring fancy footwork. On windy days, it is also a good idea to layer up for this section.

As you work upward, the trail remains well-marked and easy to follow. It does, however, bear sharply right at one point. Fortunately, there’s a large sign (42.860313, -72.107361) there that’s pretty hard to miss.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The Summit

Sine it’s the tallest peak for miles and unprotected, the winds often rip across Monadnock’s summit (42.861385, -72.108063). Luckily, natural windbreaks abound, offering great places to take a break, pull on a puffy, and have a snack. Once refreshed, stand up and take in the fantastic 360-degree view. In the distance to the north, look for the White Mountains. Much closer to the east is the Wapack Range. To the south, you can see Mount Wachusett. And, Vermont’s ski mountains are visible to the west. While you’re admiring the view, try to identify landmarks in all six New England states.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Return

From the summit, retrace your steps on the White Dot Trail. Below the summit proper, you’ll encounter a few smooth, slabby sections, so watch your footing.

As you descend, look for the sign that indicates the White Dot Trail will take a sharp turn. This time, however, you’ll be turning left. Soon thereafter, you’ll be at the well-marked junction for the White Dot and White Cross Trails (42.859726, -72.104698). Since the footing on the latter is a little easier and the incline more moderate, start following the white crosses down. Before you do so, though, make sure to look back uphill to get one last look at the summit.

From the junction, the White Cross Trail meanders below treeline, working through some easy slabby sections and then into the woods. The trail is pleasant and quite moderate as it approaches the White Dot-White Cross junction (42.851715, -72.091652). At the junction, turn right (downhill) onto the White Dot Trail, and you’ll be in the parking lot in no time.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Diversions

Mount Monadnock is forever linked with the great transcendentalist writers and philosophers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Because of this, many spots are marked to note their connection with the mountain. A diversion from the White Cross Trail takes you across the Smith Connector Trail to the Cliff Walk Trail, where you will find “Emerson’s Seat” and “Thoreau’s Seat” at around 2,350 feet. Both “seats” offer fantastic views and perhaps will inspire you as it did them.


Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The Kit

  • Much of the White Cross and White Dot trails are on exposed rock that has been made smooth and slick by the boots of hundreds of thousands of hikers. With traction a necessity, consider a pair of trail runners, like the Brooks Cascadia 12 (Men’s/Women’s), or hiking shoes, such as the Oboz Sawtooth (Men’s/Women’s).
  • These trails can get especially slippery. If you’re unsure of your footwork, don’t want to roll an ankle, or simply hope to stay upright, pack a pair of trekking poles, such as the Black Diamond Trail Back poles (Men’s/Women’s) for added stability and confidence. Need some convincing? We’ve covered all the benefits of trekking poles here.
  • Loosely translated, “monadnock” is an old Abenaki word meaning “mountain standing alone,” and you’ll definitely notice the isolation with the ridgeline winds. Even on nice summer days, bring a windshirt, like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi (Men’s/Women’s), for blocking the breeze.
  • Pick up the Mount Monadnock Trail Map before you go to get psyched, bring it along just in case you make a wrong turn, and consult it after to start planning your next trip. Pumpelly Trail, perhaps?
  • Although Mount Monadnock is near a lot of places to grab a bite to eat or a beer after your hike, it’s not really close to any of them. Instead, pack a picnic in the Mountainsmith Deluxe Cooler Cube, and après at your leisure. Add a lightweight and packable Helinox Camp Chair for a better seat than you’ll find in any restaurant.
  • As you might suspect, the most popular trail on the world’s second-most climbed mountain can be a busy place. Beat the crowds and get an early start by hitting the trail before sunrise with the Black Diamond ReVolt headlamp.

Cairn-with-summit

Tips

  • Before heading up the mountain, stop in the Ranger Station to get the latest on everything from weather to trail conditions.
  • To get excited before your climb, follow the Franklin Pierce University Mount Monadnock webcam.
  • Stay the night at Gilson Pond Campground. With its 35 campsites, plus five remote hike-in sites, why rush home?
  • No dogs are allowed in the park. So, if you were planning on bringing your pooch, you’ll have to make other plans.
  • If you worked up an appetite on the trails, treat yourself to a mountain of ice cream—their portions are best described as “generous”—from Kimball Farm in Jaffrey on your way home.
  • If you’re interested in exploring more of Southwestern New Hampshire, make the short drive to the Peterborough EMS Store and get some local knowledge on Monadnock’s lesser-known trails. Before heading home, stop for a pint at Harlow’s—the unofficial pub of Eastern Mountain Sports.

Current Conditions

Have you climbed Monadnock recently? Post your experience and the trail conditions (with the date of your hike) in the comments for others!


The Best Beers After Every Adventure

There are a lot of things to love about being outdoors in the summer. Days are longer, so you have extra time for adventuring. Temperatures are warmer, so you don’t have to worry about how many layers to wear—and how many extra ones to pack. And, even though the après scene is strong in the realm of winter sports, few things are more satisfying than an ice-cold beer at the end of a hot summer day spent in the wild. So, to make this your most refreshing summer yet, begin with these beer and activity recommendations. Just remember to drink and play outdoors responsibly, please. Cheers!

XXX-North-Conway_Bar

Beers for Backpacking

Whether you’re the type to save a little space for a can or three in your pack or someone who leaves a six-pack in a cooler in your car, there’s no denying that a strong brew and backpacking go together like peanut butter and Nutella. Pitch-A-Tent Double IPA from Hobbs Tavern & Brewing Co. (8% ABV; 76 IBU) is the perfect way to wind down from a high-mileage day while you wait for your freeze-dried meal to “cook.” And, it’s still just as good if you wait to imbibe until you’re back in the parking lot—or your backyard.

Beers for Mountain Biking

If you’re anything like my husband and his friends, you throw back a beer at the end of a hard ride, because you totally crushed it, bro. If you’re like me, you probably have a few new bruises, so you crack open a cold one in an effort to dull the pain that both your body and ego are suffering. Either way, New Belgium’s Fat Tire Belgian Style Ale (5.2% ABV; 22 IBU) is an ideal choice for your post-ride recovery beverage. As an added bonus, New Belgium is a member of 1% For the Planet, so each Fat Tire you drink also helps support amazing things like bicycle advocacy, clean water, and reforestation.

Beers for Climbing

Nothing soothes tender tips better than an ice-cold beer after a day of cragging. As soon as your rack is stowed away, your rope is coiled, and you’ve traded in your approach shoes for your flippy-floppies, it’s time to treat yourself to a parking lot Monkey Fist from Shipyard Brewing (6% ABV; 50 IBU). This delicious West Coast-style IPA is named after a knot (for sailors, but still), and according to Shipyard, it “starts smooth and finishes with a…subtle bitterness,” which is likely also how your day of climbing progressed. I dare you to find a more appropriate brew to wrap up a day on the rock.

Beers for Trail Running

Hitting the trail for a tough sweat session is one of those things I love as an afterthought but really only tolerate as it’s happening. The post-run beer, however, is not only something I love in the moment, but it’s also often what motivates me to even put those miles under my feet in the first place. And, in this instance, Rock Art Brewery’s Ridge Runner (7.2% ABV; 23 IBU) always hits the spot. Ambiguously classified as a “Bold Vermont Ale,” these strong suds easily help you forget about those lung-burning climbs, quad-killing descents, and all the roots and rocks you nearly face-planted.

Beers for Hiking

Day-hiking is great, because it’s just backpacking for a few hours instead of a few days and doesn’t involve carrying all that stuff. There’s no denying that a day of hiking deserves a beer, but since it’s not quite as demanding, I like to end my treks with one that’s a little less intense. Trail Hopper from Long Trail Brewing Co. (4.75% ABV; 40 IBU) is a slightly fruity, super-refreshing session IPA—and an excellent way to end a hot summer hike.

Beers for Paddling

All of these summer sports are tiring, but spending a day in a kayak or on a paddleboard has a particular knack for wearing you out. I don’t know if it’s because of all the sun, or if it’s just because I always forget how much of a workout paddling actually is, but whenever I head out, I’m totally beat when I get back on solid ground—and super thirsty. Dogfish Head’s SeaQuench Ale (4.9% ABV; 10 IBU) is a mixed bag of styles (Kolsch, Gose, and Berliner Weiss) with some lime and sea salt thrown in. Men’s Health dubbed it “the world’s most thirst-slaying beer,” and overall, it’s a great complement to your aquatic adventures.

Call It a Day

Some summer days are so nice, you end up enjoying more than one activity. Maybe you hit the trail for an easy run in the morning, and then, go to your favorite lake for an afternoon paddle. Or, maybe you head out for a little alpine endeavor, like Henderson Ridge. Whatever your multi-sport adventure of choice may be, there’s one beer that’s perfect for the end of a day spent outdoors: Call It A Day IPA from Moat Mountain Brewing Company (8% ABV; 75 IBU).

 

Now, you tell us: What’s your favorite beer, and which activity does it pair with best? Let us know in the comments!

 

Credit: Lauren Danilek
Credit: Lauren Danilek

10 Tips for a Successful Group Adventure in the Backcountry

So, you have a sweet trip idea, and a few buddies have said, “I’m in!” You’re ready to rock and roll—but wait! Ahead of time, it’s worth giving a little bit of thought to the team you’re going to be bringing along into the backcountry.

Group dynamics make or break a trip. When traveling as a party of two or more, co-planning and divvying up trail chores are both essential for success. Here are a few tips to ensure that everyone gets the most out of this shared experience.

1. Create a shared objective

Get everyone together ahead of time to check out the maps, talk through potential routes, and chat a little about your goals. Taking the time to do so will get everyone on the same page about logistics and the daily routine, setting you up for success from the get-go. Further, it allows each person to voice their goals and objectives, and opens the door to talking about safety and level of acceptable risk—essential conversations if you are heading into technical terrain. Are you trying to go fast and light? Are sunrise or alpine starts part of the program? How much mileage are you aiming for? How much cash is everyone expecting to spend on food, transportation, campsites or huts, and other expenses? Are there any behaviors that are totally off limits? To avoid some serious backcountry awkwardness, be clear about expectations before hitting the trail.

2. Get organized

To avoid carrying extra, unnecessary weight, a shared Google document or spreadsheet can easily help you determine who owns what group gear. Of course, everyone will need their own clothing and personal items, but extra bulky gear, such as first aid kits, stoves, and water purifiers, is probably overkill. Repair kits, for skiing and biking, are one exception. These should be specific to each group member, so that everyone has what they need for their own repairs.

EMS-LAKE-PLACID-0351

3. Share the load

Divvy up the group gear, so that each person is carrying weight proportional to his or her size and strength, regardless of who owns what. If you’re heading out hiking, split up the bulky stuff, such as the stove, pots, fuel, the tent, and poles, so that each group member’s pack is comfortable and feels manageable.

4. Who’s on chef duty?

The old adage that you can have “too many cooks in the kitchen” definitely holds true in the backcountry. When one person assumes planning and cooking responsibilities for an entire meal, things run so much smoother. Find a spot on your Google doc to outline the breakfasts and dinners you’ll have on the trail, and then, each person can claim responsibility. Sure, the chef can recruit “sous chefs” and others can pitch in to do the dishes, but giving one person full autonomy usually leads to a more efficient suppertime and happier bellies.

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5. Streamline lunch

Group meals are great when you’re settled at camp, but can be tricky when you’re out in the elements. During the planning stage, talk through how you want to manage the midday meal. If you anticipate that everyone will need something different throughout the day, letting each person plan and pack their own lunches and trail snacks might be the way to go.

If you’re all committed to eating the same thing at lunchtime, on the other hand, pre-made wraps or at least pre-sliced sandwich fixings in freezer bags fit way better into each person’s pack, compared to lugging around whole veggies. When it comes to dessert, no one says you can’t toss a surprise into your pack to share with the group. “Dried mango, anyone?” “Pass the bag of M&M’s!” Yes, please!

6. Leader of the Day (LOTD)

In some situations, especially in larger groups, it makes sense to assign LOTD responsibility to one person. These may include planning the route and briefing everyone the night before, determining the wake-up time, carrying the map and navigating throughout the day, setting the pace, and deciding when and where to take breaks. Giving one person the autonomy to make these calls helps avoid paralysis by over-analysis.

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7. Split up!

This might go against the whole point of a group trip, but don’t be afraid to split up into smaller groups. One night on a recent five-person, multi-day ski trip, two of us opted for an evening jog to shake out our legs, while the other three took some bonus runs behind the rental house. The result? Fun stories to share and a refreshing mix-up of group dynamics.

8. Manage group dynamics

A nightly check-in often ensures that everyone stays happy and healthy, and helps deal with any inter-group disputes proactively. My friends and I make a habit of asking such questions during the dinner conversation: “How did the route feel to everyone today?”, “How was the pace?”, “Did everyone get enough to eat and stay hydrated?”, “What worked well that we should do again?”, and “Anything not work that we should adjust for tomorrow?” These questions might feel a bit awkward at first, but a simple and informal check-in helps to address minor hiccups before they become real problems and provides space for each group member to voice preferences and concerns as the trip progresses.

Credit: Rachel Cohen
Credit: Rachel Cohen

9. Celebrate in style

The party doesn’t have to end when the hike is over or the route climbed. Instead, find a great swimming hole or ice cream stand to hit on the way home. This is especially important on longer trips, as it helps the group ease back into the real world and provides closure on your time together. Often, this is when everyone shares their favorite memories from the trip and begins to plan the next one!

10. Share your photos

After groups trips, my friends and I always create a shared album in Google photos. Google photos lets everyone add what images they like, comment on them, and download their favorites. Plus, it’s super fun to look back on the adventure through everyone else’s lenses and see pictures of yourself that your friends took when you were in the moment.

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10 Must-See Spots in the Adirondacks (That Aren't Above 4,000 Feet)

The views of the Adirondacks from one of the park’s tallest mountains are breathtaking. So, it’s no wonder everyone is flocking to the region’s 46 High Peaks. Hiking one—or all!—of the 4,000-footers is one of the Northeast’s greatest adventures. But, for those of us who get tired of the trailhead throngs, crowded or busy trails, erosion (be sure to Leave No Trace when you head out, even on these less-visited hikes), and noise pollution, or for those of us who just want a tranquil day to experience the ‘Daks alone, you may want to skip the most popular routes, and check out one of these quieter, lower-elevation options instead.

Courtesy: The Adirondack Council
Courtesy: The Adirondack Council

1. Hike Jay Mountain (Jay, NY)

The Jay Mountain Wilderness Area is a secret oasis between Lake Placid and Lake Champlain. If you’re looking for a solid hike to challenge yourself and experience the solitude of the Adirondack wilderness, this is for you. This moderate eight-mile round-trip trail is a good option for somewhat experienced hikers. For the last mile, be ready to hike along a rocky, open ridge, where you will have awesome views of the surrounding forests and mountains.

2. Paddle the North Branch Moose River (Old Forge, NY)

This quiet river is just behind the hustle and bustle of Old Forge’s main road. Rent or bring your own kayak or canoe to explore the remote waters of the river’s North Branch, itself slow moving and surrounded by lush forests at every twist and turn. Along the way, hop out on occasion to enjoy the sandy shores.

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Courtesy: The Adirondack Council

3. Hike Hopkins Mountain (Keene Valley, NY)

If you’re looking for a moderate, low-traffic hike right near the High Peaks, Hopkins is a good alternative. You will get an equally amazing view with a much quieter trip. This 6.4-mile round-trip hike follows a beautiful creek most of the way, making it a scenic walk, and features vibrant green moss along the trail. Here, stop to watch the quiet water flow over boulders.

Courtesy: The Adirondack Council
Courtesy: The Adirondack Council

 

4. Explore Moose River Plains (Inlet, NY)

Tons of trails and old dirt roads wind through the forest, beyond lakes, streams, and rivers. As a multi-sport hub, the Moose River Plains State Wild Forest area features 130 miles of marked trails and a network of old roads ideal for hiking and mountain biking. Since the forest is so big, you’re likely to have whatever section you choose to yourself. There are also over 100 primitive roadside campsites, motorboat-free lakes to paddle and fish, and trails to hike or horseback ride. And, if you’re lucky, you might spot the resident moose.

Courtesy: The Adirondack Council
Courtesy: The Adirondack Council

 

5. Hike Owls Head Lookout (Elizabethtown, NY)

This incredible peak is just down the road from some of the busiest trail heads, but is a much quieter climb. Owls Head Lookout (not to be confused with the very popular “Owl’s Head” in Keene) is an amazing five-mile round-trip hike. Following a stream most of the way, the route feels less like you’re on a trail and more like you’re exploring the wilderness on your own. When you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the dramatic High Peaks, Green Mountains of Vermont, and the Champlain Valley.

6. Camp at Eighth Lake (Inlet, NY)

If your type of “off the beaten path” adventure still involves bathrooms and is accessible by car, this is the state campground for you. Visit during the week or in early summer, and you can probably snag a waterfront campsite along the lake’s shore. Here, spend your day hiking nearby trails, like Rondaxe or Rocky Mountain, or rent a canoe or kayak to paddle to the little island on the lake. Bring a cooler with lunch, relax on the sandy shore, and take a dip in the water.

Courtesy: The Adirondack Council
Courtesy: The Adirondack Council

 

7. Hike Coon Mountain (Westport, NY)

Turn down an unassuming dirt road to find this hidden gem. Tucked away in a quiet town, Coon sees fewer visitors than the ultra-popular peaks near Lake Placid. You’ll hike less than a mile to the summit, and there, views of Lake Champlain, the Green Mountains, the High Peaks, and beyond make it a local favorite.

Courtesy: The Adirondack Council
Courtesy: The Adirondack Council

8. Paddle the Essex Chain Lakes (Newcomb, NY)

The Essex Chain Lakes are a wild network of lakes, ponds, and streams nestled at the Adirondacks’ center. It’s a long yet easy and scenic drive to get to this remote destination. Here, you’ll want to paddle and portage your way through the wild waters. Later, camp at the numerous rustic sites along the lakes, all available on a first-come, first-serve basis. No motor boats are allowed, so it feels quiet and peaceful.

Courtesy: The Adirondack Council
Courtesy: The Adirondack Council

9. Hike Lyon Mountain (Dannemora, NY)

Involving a seven-mile, three-hour round-trip hike in the park’s northeastern portion, Lyon Mountain offers beautiful views from the summit fire tower. Look out at Champlain Valley, all the way to Montreal, and get a 360-degree view of forests, mountains, and lakes as far as the eye can see. Throughout the year, the trail is infrequently used, and makes a good challenge.

10. Hike Mount Severance (Schroon Lake, NY)

Near the Lake George area, this small-but-mighty mountain is not far off the beaten path. However, compared to other local hikes, it sees far less traffic. While not far from the main highway, this 2.4-mile round-trip hike is usually quiet and can be completed in about an hour. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a great view of Schroon Lake and the surrounding mountains.


Top 5 Memorial Day Hikes in the Adirondacks for Kids

If you are anything like me, the joy of a new child also means that hiking takes a backseat. Luckily, with some careful planning, hiking with young kids can become a wonderful, new way to enjoy the outdoors. I started bringing my daughter along on short hikes in a backpack-style carrier before she was a year old. To begin, here are some tips for bringing children along and some of the best kid-friendly locations throughout the Adirondacks:

Credit: Lucas LaBarre
Credit: Lucas LaBarre

Getting Started

1. Be conservative with weather, gear, and time considerations

Plan to move slowly with little ones in tow. That being said, start early to avoid feeling like you have to rush. As well, pick a good weather day, and plan to reschedule if the forecast is poor. For gear, pack not only the essentials for safety but also extras for comfort and convenience. Hiking with kids is not the time to go ultralight!

2. Be sure to carry plenty of “fuel”

Be even more conscious of nutrition essentials. Choose food and drink items your kids already enjoy and are sure to get down. Incorporate snacks and fluids into frequent breaks.

3. Make it about the experience and the journey—not a goal or task to be completed

Plan to start with short and easy hikes, with options to cut them short if needed. Along the way, teach your kids to observe the wilderness and learn about nature and history, as their age allows. Add camping or a post-hike reward to create more memories and a love for the outdoors.

 

Where to Go

Here are just a few of my favorite short hikes for young children throughout the Adirondacks:

Courtesy: Bonnie Gross
Courtesy: Bonnie Gross

Mount Severance (Schroon Lake)

Starting off Rt. 9N just south of the intersection with Rt. 74, this hike starts with a fun walk through a tunnel-shaped culvert under the interstate. After a mild 2.4-mile round-trip, you’ll be rewarded with a summit of rocky ledges and views ranging from Schroon Lake to the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness and Paradox Lake.

Sawyer Mountain (Blue Mountain Lake)

You’ll find the trailhead between Indian Lake and Blue Mountain Lake on Rt. 28/30. This 2.1-mile hike takes you through picturesque woods and introduces some very basic but still fun scrambling to your toddlers toward the top. You’ll find the best views—covering the Cedar River Valley to Wakely Mountain—just 100 yards past the summit on a small ledge.

Credit: Lucas LaBarre
Credit: Lucas LaBarre

Rattlesnake Mountain (Willsboro Bay)

This three-mile round-trip hike starts off Rt. 22, just across from Long Pond. With “bang for your buck” views, the open summit lets you look out to Lake Champlain and Willsboro Point on one side and Long Pond and Giant Mountain on the other. Don’t worry, though. Despite the name, Northern Timber Rattlers are rare this far north. Please note: This trek goes through private lands open to hiking, but camping and other off-trail activities aren’t allowed. 

Credit: Lucas LaBarre
Credit: Lucas LaBarre

Sleeping Beauty Mountain (Lake George)

At about five miles round-trip, this hike is a bit longer than the others, but offers some wonderful views of Lake George and beyond. Save this one for a nice summer or fall day, as the trailhead (Dacy Clearing) is at the end of a long dirt road accessed toward the end of Buttermilk Falls Road from Rt. 149 outside Lake George, and can be hard to reach during mud or snow season. If you have to park at the Hogtown Lot, you will add an additional three miles round-trip. While you are here, take a side trip to nearby Shelving Rock Falls. As a tip, use caution when hiking near slippery falls with children.

Baxter Mountain (Keene)

Roughly 2.5 miles round-trip, this hike begins on Rt. 9N in Keene. It’s known for nice views, mixed terrain, and blueberry picking when they’re in season. Be aware that while the first lookout offers outstanding views, the actual summit is a bit farther along the ridge. Also, the trail continues past the summit and down to Beede Road, allowing for a thru-hike if you have a car spot available.


Top 5 Lessons from Hiking that Make You a Better Entrepreneur

Leaving my stable job to start my own business was one of the most terrifying decisions I have made to date. I had been with my company for two years and had become comfortable with the routine of sitting behind a desk and doing whatever work came my way. But, something inside kept nagging at me—something that demanded a bigger sense of adventure. I tried to satisfy this voice with more weekend hikes and longer, exotic treks. But, I only found that adventure is a lot like eating chips—the more you have, the more you want. The thrill I sought in my spare time empowered me to seek more excitement out of my daytime. More importantly, the familiar adrenaline rush helped me on the path to self-employment.

Looking back, here are the top five ways hiking has made me a better entrepreneur.

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1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

The more prepared you are for a trek, the more enjoyable the experience usually is. The same is true for starting your own business. Being prepared to go out on your own and begin something new—between mental readiness to sources of funding, mentorship, and support—can make all the difference between starting an exciting, risky endeavor and doing a painful, solo slog through the unknown. Both adventures are better met with some prep work and precaution.

2. Let Unknown Places Inspire You

One of the best parts of hiking is finding yourself in places you’ve never imagined. Thankfully, that’s mirrored in the experience of starting your own business. After you have been trekking for a few days, nothing can replace the moment of stopping to look at the beauty of being somewhere you have never been. Entrepreneurship is peppered with these instances. Learning how to do your own accounting, reaching out to new clients, meeting new people, and taking on new projects all play a major part. Often, every step can feel somewhat unknown. Along the way, remember to stop and take a moment to enjoy all the new places and people you have met, and let them empower you to move forward.

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3. Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Hiking’s most basic skill is also the key to being a successful entrepreneur. Every hike is a series of deliberately taken steps. One step in front of the other, through sunshine and rain alike, makes up the journey to your destination. The same is true for any successful business endeavor. Business owners must continue to move forward, no matter the circumstance, to reach where he or she is now.

4. Be Flexible

Sometimes, our preparation pays off, and sometimes, it doesn’t. You first set out to hike a certain path, only to find that weather or damage requires you to pivot around and choose a different direction. While the journey isn’t over, it’s different from how you thought it would be. So, be flexible. Serendipity on and off the trail is a beautiful thing.

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5. Limitless Bounds

Nothing’s like the moment when you truly feel the immensity of your surroundings. You have been hiking for days, and suddenly, the expanse of forest, cliffs, or stars surrounds you. Added to this, you don’t know how far it reaches. Here, you can feel how large and beautiful the world is, and know that there are no limits to your exploration of it.

These moments of boundlessness usually make me commit to my next trek, no matter how much I might be covered in mud or dirt. A similar sensation leads many people to start their own businesses and explore those possibilities, rather than continuing to work for someone else. Especially when you think about turning back, let these moments inspire you to keep moving forward.

 

No one starts hiking and backpacking knowing exactly what they are doing. You often learn skills along the way, from a combination of your own experiences and talking with like-minded people. Being a business owner is no different, and like trekking, it gets even better when you find the comradery of the community. While a business owner’s path is far from clear and definite, the peaks along the journey are so rewarding that you won’t mind.


Newsflash: New York State Wants to Get More Families Camping

Trying a new outdoor activity for the first time can be an exciting and potentially life-changing experience. It can also be intimidating, especially with camping. Typically, it requires a couple days’ commitment, sleeping someplace other than your bed, and using possibly unfamiliar gear. To counter that, New York State started its First-Time Camper program in 2017. Created through a partnership between the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the program helps out families who have never before slept under the stars.

Courtesy: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Courtesy: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The program gives participants everything needed for an authentic camping experience, eliminating the need to invest in any equipment upfront. Families receive a tent, sleeping bags and pads, chairs, a lantern, and even firewood. As a bonus, they can keep it all, so they can continue camping on their own.

The program also sets participants up with a Camping Ambassador. With environmental education backgrounds, they are members of the Excelsior Conservation Corps and are on-site to help set up camp and answer questions. Each adventure takes place over two nights, and during, the experts assist with various activities, including paddling, fishing, birdwatching, and hiking.

“I can’t begin to explain the incredible experience my family had.”

The program will run seven weekends during July and August at 13 camping locations spread across the state. This allows more families to participate. Potential campers can submit an application from May 10 through May 13 and may specify their campground and date preferences. The organizations will then select 65 families at random. In total, each of the 13 participating campgrounds will host five families.

Ideally, the First-Time Camper program will reach underserved populations, including those who can’t financially risk “buying before trying” or have little exposure to a wilderness environment. The experience then offers the opportunity to form life-long memories in a nurturing atmosphere. Campers surveyed from the 2017 program indicated they were “very satisfied,” and 90 percent stated that they are “extremely likely to go camping again.”

Courtesy: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Courtesy: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

“I can’t begin to explain the incredible experience my family had,” said one camper. “Our camp ambassadors were awesome—so friendly, so smart, and so patient with sharing all of their knowledge. We learned so much. We are so excited to be able to start going as a family and explore the parks and experience all that we can.”


Why Should I Use Trekking Poles?

Improved efficiency, less wear and tear on joints, and increased safety are just a few of the reasons trekking poles almost always find their way onto gear lists like our “Top to Bottom: Gear to Hike the NH 48” roundup. If you’ve been on the fence about adding them to your kit, or you’re wondering why so many hikers you encounter are using them, here are 10 reasons why you should be reaching for your trekking poles as you head out the door.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

1. Increased Stability

The Northeast is home to notoriously harsh terrain. No matter the season, hikers here encounter conditions ranging from snow to mud to bare rock—not to mention wet rocks and roots. Whether you’re heading up, down, or across, trekking poles allow for two additional points of contact with the ground, greatly increasing stability and traction.

2. Reduced Impact on Your Body

The act of repeatedly putting one foot in front of the other in rough terrain while carrying a load (even just a daypack) murders knees, ankles, and feet. Trekking poles shift some of this burden onto a person’s shoulders and arms, reducing the pounding your lower body takes. Furthermore, they can reduce swelling of the hands, a common ailment for many hikers. Incorporating your arms into the activity increases blood flow and reduces fluid pooling in the hands.

3. Give Yourself a Push

Looking to increase your speed? Simply plant your poles and push with your arms. On steep uphills, they’ll take some of the weight off your legs, while on flat terrain, they’ll help propel you along. Even better, use your trekking poles like a metronome for getting your entire body to act in unison for relaxed breathing and a more consistent (and efficient) pace.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

4. Safer Stream Crossings

Between snow melt and spring showers, water crossings reach their peak in the spring. Trekking poles are essential for safe crossings on hikes like Owl’s Head, as they allow you to test the water’s depth, get a feel for the strength of the current, and, once you commit, help maintain your balance as you wade or rock hop across. And, if you do slip, those extra points of contact are usually the difference between a wet shoe and total immersion.

5. Test Out Terrain

Much like how you can gauge the depth of a stream crossing with trekking poles, you can also use them to test other types of terrain. From finding out just how deep that snowpack is to how frozen that alpine puddle is or even how deep that muddy section of trail is, trekking poles are perfect for probing into the unknown.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

6. Clear a Path

Whether you’re dealing with thorns growing into the trail, branches from blow-downs blocking it, or those “super-scary” spider webs hanging across it, trekking poles offer a convenient way to clear annoyances from your path.

7. First Aid Essential

When it comes to situations involving twisted ankles or broken bones, trekking poles are a valuable supplement to your first aid kit. Serving as everything from a crutch to a splint, they come in handy when things go wrong.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

8. Trekking Poles and Shelter

Thanks to the desire of backpackers to lighten their loads, many shelters (like the Black Diamond Mega Light Tarp) and tents now offer a fast pitching option that ditches traditional poles and instead uses your trekking poles to save weight.

9. They’re Collapsible, Too

Most trekking poles are collapsible. So, if you encounter some steep, rocky terrain that requires free hands, just break the poles down, and stow them on the side of your pack. Try the same thing if you’re on terrain that’s conducive to running and that you absolutely want to be done with—for example, the flat section on the way out from The Bonds.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

10. Try Just One

If two is too many, try using just one pole. Switch it from hand to hand while hiking to get the same stability, all with less weight and one fewer tool to manage. We especially like the one-pole trick on outings where we’ll also be carrying an ice axe (like the Lion Head Winter Route); on trail runs that are mostly runnable but have a tricky steep descent (like the descent from South Twin to the Galehead Hut); or in situations where we’ll be transitioning from hiking to climbing and then back (like Henderson Ridge).

Do you have another use for trekking poles that we didn’t list? If so, leave your suggestion in the comments.


10 Energy-Packed Foods to Bring Hiking

You are what you eat, especially when you’re playing outdoors. Hard work while you’re hiking or backpacking requires lots of energy intake, so packing foods that are delicious, nutritious, and lightweight is key. Thankfully, finding tasty foods with plenty of calories, vitamins, protein, and healthy fats is easier than you think.

Shoot for foods that are made of wholesome, unprocessed ingredients in their natural state. The best will contain lots of energy and are ready to go, giving you more time to enjoy the wonders of mother nature, instead of the inside of your kitchen.

Pack around a pound and a half of food per day on short-mileage trips. For longer, more strenuous journeys, have closer to two pounds. You should aim for about one hundred calories per ounce of food, with a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat for optimal energy production. These homemade and prepackaged options are a great balance to meet all of your nutrition needs.

1. Nuts

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 172

Fat: 15 g

Protein: 6 g

Carbohydrates: 6 g

Iron: 3% DV

Calcium: 3% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C: 1% DV

Nuts are some of the most nutrient-dense foods available. By packing just a few servings in your bag, you’ll gain lots of protein and healthy fats. These can be packed in their whole, unprocessed form, or in the form of nut butters to spread on crackers or fruit.

 

2. Jerky

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 116

Fat: 7 g

Protein: 9 g

Carbohydrates: 3.1 g

Iron: 8% DV

Calcium: 0% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C: 0% DV

You can make your own jerky with a dehydrator or purchase pre-made varieties. Turkey, goose, beef, and venison jerky are popular. It can be made out of virtually any type of meat. You can also use dried hard meats in casings, such as salami or summer sausage. These don’t have to be refrigerated and pack lots of protein for minimal weight. For vegetarians, soy jerky is also available, although this isn’t quite as high in calories.

 

3. Tuna packets

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 60

Fat: 3 g

Protein: 6 g

Carbohydrates: 0 g

Iron: 6% DV

Calcium: 0% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C: 0% DV

Canned tuna will add too much weight to your pack, but plastic-packaged tuna is high in calories, protein, and healthy fats, along with critical omega-3s. Some tuna products are packaged in olive oil or water, making it an even healthier choice. Just make sure to bring a disposable bag to hold trash items and keep your gear clean.

 

4. Dried fruit

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 78

Fat: 0 g

Protein: 1 g

Carbohydrates: 20 g

Iron: 1% DV

Calcium: 1% DV

Vitamin A: 1% DV

Vitamin C: 3% DV

Store-bought dried fruits tend to contain unhealthy and unnecessary added sugars that can make you groggy and lethargic. For the best and healthiest dried fruits, make your own at home with a dehydrator, or purchase unsweetened varieties of favorites, such as mango, pineapple, and papaya.

Dried fruit is more compact than fresh fruit and also lasts much longer on the trail. It will add crucial fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your diet, even though it contains relatively few calories compared to other foods.

 

5. Energy bars

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 135

Fat: 4.5 g

Protein: 10 g

Carbohydrates: 15 g

Iron: 10% DV

Calcium: 17% DV

Vitamin A: 15% DV

Vitamin C: 25% DV

Energy bars are a more processed food that pack easily, but they do tend to contain more chemicals than other trail foods. Several manufacturers offer high-protein energy bars that contain nearly a day’s worth of protein, but watch out for unhealthy added sugars. Nevertheless, these store and pack well and can be quickly eaten on the trail. Aim for granola or energy bars with at least 20 grams of protein per serving.

 

6. Cheese

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 113

Fat: 9 g

Protein: 7 g

Carbohydrates: 0.5 g

Iron: 1% DV

Calcium: 20% DV

Vitamin A: 5% DV

Vitamin C: 0% DV

Choose hard cheeses that don’t need to be refrigerated or can tolerate some warmth without changing form, such as sharp cheddar. At over 100 calories per serving, these add a substantial amount of fat, calcium, and magnesium, all of which are necessary for rebuilding sore muscles and joints while you’re on the trail.

 

7. Whole grains

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 124

Fat: 4 g

Protein: 6 g

Carbohydrates: 20 g

Iron: 6% DV

Calcium: 1% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C: 0% DV

Whole grains provide plenty of heart-healthy carbohydrates, and many are high in healthy vegetable fats. Grab some crackers and cereals instead of breads, as most breads contain excess water weight with fewer nutrients, thus making them an impractical addition to your pack. Tortillas, wheat crackers, granola, whole grain muesli, and Grape Nuts provide healthy options without taking up a lot of space.

 

8. Chocolate

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 150

Fat: 10 g

Protein: 2 g

Carbohydrates: 16 g

Iron: 0% DV

Calcium: 0% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C: 0% DV

Chocolate should be packed and eaten sparingly, but can provide a great boost of energy and a dash of phytonutrients and carbohydrates. Dark chocolate is the most nutrient dense and adds healthy fats and calories. It also serves as a nice treat at the end of a long day of trekking—an added bonus!

 

9. Seeds

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 165

Fat: 14 g

Protein: 6 g

Carbohydrates: 7 g

Iron: 0% DV

Calcium: 0% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C:0% DV

Like nuts, seeds can be eaten on their own or processed and purchased as butters. The best contain high levels of health fats and include sunflower, chia, pumpkin, and flax seeds.

 

10. Hummus

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 30

Fat: 1 g

Protein: 2 g

Carbohydrates: 4 g

Iron: 0% DV

Calcium: 2% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C: 0% DV

Hummus doesn’t last as long out of refrigeration as these other foods, but it makes a great option for wintertime hiking or adventuring. Chickpeas, the primary ingredient, are high in protein and healthy fats. Hummus is a nice, savory addition to your whole-wheat crackers or breads, and weighs next to nothing in your pack.