Lately, I had been paddling more than hiking and felt the urge to be on a mountain. After a few texts back and forth with friends Wendy Patunoff, Sue Coonrod and Kelly Moody, we unanimously decided on Round Mountain. Round, with an elevation of 3100 feet and a distance of 2.3 miles would be a good training hike for future, longer ones.
AN EARLY START
We met up at 6 am with each of us driving our own vehicles to the trail head. Even though it would be a short hike, we had two reasons for an early start: 1) To try to beat the heat that had arrived way too soon (just my opinion) and 2)To have a good chance of grabbing a coveted parking spot at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve in St. Huberts.
When we pulled into the lot, we were happy to find 4 spots and took note there were only 2 spots remaining. I was not concerned that our trail was going to be too busy as Round Mountain is not as popular as the many other trails on the preserve. I did make a mental note to myself to make sure I had a back up plan if parking is too crowded at any trailhead.
After a short walk up the Ausable Club Road, we turned left onto the trail. I had hiked this trail many times but I sure didn’t remember how steep it was right from the start. No flat paths to acclimate on this hike. As we walked along, the morning light filtered through the trees warming up the damp haze. We all began the day in long sleeves but after huffing and puffing to the first look out, like a snake shedding its skin, we all shed a layer.
Continuing on, we had to be careful where we stepped as we spotted many efts crossing the trail. We each took turns helping them across so they would not get squashed by our boots. An eft is the terrestrial juvenile phase of a newt which is salamander.
PULLING YOURSELF UP
Our trail led us through some open hardwoods with huge erratics here and there. There were several spots to stretch and reach and pull yourself up.
I welcomed the opportunity to use muscles not exercised in a while. Chatting as we walked along, we enjoyed our time together.
As we got closer to the top, the trail got steeper but before we knew it we were on open rocks soaking in beautiful mountainous views. A short walk brings you to the junction with a descent route to the Old Dix Trail.
We met a lone hiker (the only one for the day) emerging from here. He had hiked up from Round Pond.
THE GREAT RANGE
For the more ambitious, you can take this junction to Noonmark or just to return to the Ausable Club Road making it a loop. We stuck with our original plan and walked a minute or so to the actual summit of Round.
We all oohed and awed at the beauty that stretched out before us before each of us settled in our own piece of the rock to enjoy an early lunch. For a minute or two the black flies decided to attack us but soon a strong breeze took care of them. As we ate our lunch, we marveled at the outstanding view of the Great Range and Giant Mountain. The Great Range is an Adirondack hiking classic. In 2005, Backpacker Magazine wrote ‘This extra-long day hike is one of the toughest in America.’ The traditional route climbs 10 peaks, eight over 4,000 feet and it is 25 miles long. There are many hikers who have conquered this feat.
Kelly had a commitment back home so after lunch and photos and a quick wave goodbye she was off. The three of us lingered for another half hour or so just enjoying being there. That is a plus of this small hike in that you have lots of time to linger on its bald summit . Bellies full and thirst quenched, we began to retrace our route.
It was way faster on the descent and before we knew it we were back at the trailhead. It was early afternoon and I was back at home. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We are so lucky to live in an area so rich in wild mountains and astonishingly beautiful lakes and ponds.
Peru resident Joanne Kennedy is a photographer and writer who can be found exploring the many lakes and mountains in the Adirondacks or other wilderness areas. She enjoys sharing the unique places she visits in the natural world with her readers. Reach her at email@example.com.
Directions: On the Ausable Club Road just off Route 73, 7.4 miles north of Exit 30 of the Northway (I-87)