Although Adirondack autumn has shed her Technicolor party attire, this is the perfect time of year for back-country hiking. Sunday’s balmy weather inspired me to conjure up a pair of hooky possibilities for today. If the wind is light and the temperature comfortable for cycling, I’m planning on cycling the Highlands Loop for some final breathtaking views of Lake Champlain before winter arrives. And if the wind and temperature are more autumnal, then I’m planning on heading inland to the Jay Mountain Wilderness for some peak bagging with my Labrador Retriever.
I’m inspired Alan Wechsler’s recent post in The Adirondack Almanack.
I am proud to report that the Jay Mountain Wilderness is not only a lot more user-friendly than one might assume from its blank space on the map, but also that it’s well worth the visit. (Alan Wechsler: Jay Mountain Wilderness)
That inviting photograph is from Wechsler’s post, and despite the fact that I can expect a whole less foliage, a similarly sunny day will win me over.
The Jay Mountain Wilderness… the smallest Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park… features one of the best open ridgeline hikes in the Adirondacks… Jay Mountain (3600 ft), Saddleback Mountain (3615 ft), and Slip Mountain (3314 ft) dominate the center of the wilderness area… Lesser peaks within the unit include Arnold Mountain, Lawler Mountain, and Death Mountain. (CNYHiking.com)
I haven’t hiked into the Jay Mountain Wilderness in about five years, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there’s a new trail to Jay Mountain Ridge.
A newly constructed 2.5-mile trail to the western end of the Jay Mountain Ridge is complete and available for public use… The trail bypasses the steep and eroded sections of an existing herd path that had been the primary access to mountain’s summit… The Jay Mountain Trail starts at a new trailhead at the intersection of Jay Mountain Road and Upland Meadows Road in the town of Jay. The new trailhead is located on Forest Preserve lands approximately 300 feet downhill from where the old herd path entered the woods and offers parking for up to five cars. (The Adirondack Almanack)
Jay Mountain Wilderness History
And I stumbled across another curious bit trivia that may interest Essex residents. The Jay Mountain Road (aka Well’s Hill Road) — a rugged but rewarding dirt road with limited access to four wheel drive vehicles with plenty of clearance (or mountain/cross bikers, hikers, etc.) — is both a path into the wilderness and a journey into history.
The road that forms the southern boundary of Jay Mountain Wilderness is one of the earliest roads into the northern Adirondack region… in use as early as 1790. The road was part of a route which lead from Essex, on Lake Champlain, through Lewis and Jay, and on to points westward.
This road was a vital link to the newly forming communities in the area. It provided a means for new settlers to enter the area, and for local products to be transported to markets on Lake Champlain and beyond. (CNYHiking.com)
Knowing that, perhaps we need to organize a town wide excursion. Who wants to go for a hike?
More Jay Mountain Wilderness Info:
- Mike Arthur’s mid-winter Jay Mountain Wilderness adventure
- Discover the Northeastern Adirondacks, by Barbara McMartin and Bill Ingersoll
- Camping, birding, fishing, etc. in the Jay Mountain Wilderness