If you pay attention to coverage of the outdoors in the Adirondacks, you are undoubtedly aware of the problems with overuse of the High Peaks and some other hiking trails in our park.
I've never quite understood the allure with "having" to summit certain mountains or a certain number of peaks. Hiking to me is an opportunity to decompress in the woods, push my limits and see some beautiful scenery. And there are plenty of places around the Adirondacks where you can do all of them without parking problems or being inundated with annoying people.
My wife and I tackled two hikes on recent weekends that weren't hardcore, long marches in the woods, but got us some nice solitude and beautiful views.
Owl's Head Mountain in Long Lake has a firetower atop it and phenomenal views of lakes in the area and some of the High Peaks in the distance. It was a little over 6 miles round trip, but the first two thirds is flat while the last mile is fairy steep with some rock scrambles.
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon and there was one group at the summit, and we passed two other couples as we descended.
This weekend we took a ride to Blue Mountain Lake to hike a loop to Castle Rock and Chubb Pond. The views from Castle Rock are among the best you will find for minimal effort. We enjoyed the overlook by ourselves for 15 minutes on a Saturday morning in the middle of summer, and saw one other couple on our way down.
It's about 1.2 miles to the overlook, and the loop around the pond on the way down amounted to just under 3 miles after we bushwacked a bit to get a better view of the pond. Quick tip -- there's not much of the pond left. It must have been a beaver pond that washed out.
The trailhead is at the end of Maple Lodge Road, a turn off Route 30 just south of Adirondack Museum (sorry, "Experience").
I learned of Castle Rock when picking up a Hamilton County tourism brochure when we were in Long Lake. Tourism promoters are seeing that hiking is a growth business, and local tourism materials often list hikes that aren't publicized elsewhere. New York also puts out an Adirondack hiking guide you can pick up for free at most tourism kiosks.
Alltrails.com is also a great source for finding obscure hikes. The site's maps and trail length and elevation estimates aren't always accurate, so old-fashioned paper maps should always be consulted when heading out on a trip.
Finding the unbeaten path isn't so difficult if you put a bit of time into looking.
-- Don Lehman