by Ralph Ferrusi , Poughkeepsie Journal, link to original post with PHOTOS
Hike name: Hadley Mountain fire tower
Location: Southern Adirondacks, inside the Blue Line, near Lake Luzerne
Length: 3.6 miles round trip
Rating: According to “Views from on High,” the Fire Tower Challenge bible, a Difficulty Rating of 2; 1 being “Easy,” 4 being “Difficult.”
Dogs: Even though it’s only a 2, Fido, I’m glad you passed on this one.
Map(s): “Views from on High,” Page 70. New York State Atlas/Gazetteer was a big help navigating to this one.
Features: A good, brisk winter’s workout. Stupendous 360-degree mountains-everywhere view from the tower, way up to Marcy and Whiteface in the north, with the Great Sancandaga Reservoir gleaming to the south.
Watch out for: Bottom Line: we were six hours in the car, two hours on the mountain …
The “Views from on High” description of the trail ascending at a “moderate pitch” lulled me into a false sense of security. John P. Freeman must be some kind of mountain goat, because I would describe several of the pitches as pretty darn steep, and the climb to the ridge line as pretty much unrelenting. Not Breakneck unrelenting, but definitely “talking to myself” unrelenting.
On this frigid winter’s day, our Katoola MICROspikes sorta-crampons were the gear of choice.
We’d brought snowshoes, but a returning hiker in the parking lot said we wouldn’t need them on the heavily-packed-down trail.
Background: Here we go again. I’m goal-oriented, to put it mildly. You don’t walk from Georgia to Maine twice, bang out 114 Northeast 4,000-foot mountains, 46 Adirondack 4,000-footers and 35 Catskill high peaks and travel to 54 countries without some kind of numbers obsession.
I think goals are a good thing, and Kath suggested we look into a fire tower challenge she’d heard about. Online research uncovered the Fire Tower Challenge: Once upon a time there were 69 fire observation towers in the Catskills and Adirondacks, manned by observers diligently scanning for forest fires. Most of the towers dated to the early 1900s. For various reasons, including aircraft surveillance, they were gradually abandoned; the last observers left in 1990.
The towers decayed rapidly, and many were dismantled. Between 1993 and 1997, grass roots movements began lobbying to save some of the remaining towers.
Five Catskill towers have been restored: Balsam Lake, Hunter, Overlook, Red Hill and Tremper. All five have appeared in Hike of the Week columns. John P. Freeman’s 2001-vintage “Views from on High, Fire Tower Trails in the Adirondacks and Catskills” describes these towers, along with 23 remaining Adirondack towers. The EMS store on Route 9 had a copy. Don’t head to the ’daks without it.
Hike description: It was 4-above-0 when we left Stormville, and still bitter cold when we reached the trailhead at noontime. The trail was hard-packed and blue ice in spots, and we MICROspiked round-trip. It was steep enough to have me counting “one/two/three/four” to myself in several places.
It was a relief to reach the ridgeline and turn right, toward the summit dome.
Views opened up on the dome, and all of a sudden, there was the tower. Views were stupendous, but the icy wind soon had us hustling back down to the Hyundai. Eight down (we’ve done Saint Regis and Rondaxe), 20 to go …
How to get there: Thruway or Taconic north to Northway Exit 16. Follow signs to Corinth, jump on 9N north to Lake Luzerne, cross the Hudson to Hadley, then right (north—signs for the tower!!!) on Stony Creek Road. Left just after crossing railroad tracks onto Hadley Hill Road, 4.5 miles turn right on Tower Road, 1.5 miles to large trailhead parking lot on left.