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Lake Placid gets new hiking challenge — the 9er

August 17, 2018
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Another hiking challenge has been started in the Adirondacks, and the Lake Placid 9er is meant to get people physically prepared to hike bigger mountains.

Founder James Appleton - who grew up in Lake Placid and lives in Saranac Lake - said he came up with the idea after realizing that too many people were being drawn into the High Peaks, often with little or no preparation.

"I started the 9er with the thought that so many people, all they do is High Peaks, and that's foolish," the 32-year-old said. "There's so many of these smaller mountains around that are awesome. Most of the time, people aren't ready to hike a High Peak cold, and they hate it.

"[But] if they start on smaller mountains and get their body ready to go, now hiking is enjoyable."

The 9er consists of nine mountains in the Lake Placid area, and Appleton said if the hikes are done in order - they don't need to be - then people's legs, lungs and skill level will grow along with the difficulty of each peak.

The hikes start off short and easy. Appleton said he tried to come up with three easy hikes, three medium and three hard. The hikes are Cobble Hill, Mount Jo, Baxter Mountain, Mount Van Hoevenberg, Big Crow Mountain, Bear Den Mountain, Pitchoff, Catamount and Hurricane.

"I don't think the town markets these smaller mountains enough," he said. "I wanted this to be a challenge that everyone could do. The trails needed to be obvious trails. So once you do Catamount, Hurricane and Pitchoff, you're ready to start doing High Peaks.

"So if you hike them in order, each hike prepares you for the next one and by the end you're golden."

Appleton works as a sound engineer for movies and television, and was in New York City on a shoot for "The Woman in the Window," starring Amy Adams, Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman.

He said the 9er is an attainable challenge while also being an educational experience.

"What's insane is the number of people who are going up Mount Marcy totally unprepared," he said. "So many people who come up from out of town; they want to go hiking, they want a killer view, and they don't want it to take their entire day.

"We made it a point that all the hikes are half a day or less."

Appleton said in the two weeks since the challenge was officially launched, about a half-dozen people have already completed it. He also said it can be done as an ultra, meaning all the hikes are done within a 24-hour period.

The 9er website not only has trail descriptions and registration information, but there is also a page dedicated to Leave No Trace principles. Appleton also said he can envision organizing volunteer trail work days or something similar in the future, and added that the state Department of Environmental Conservation has given its blessing.

The challenge has four local sponsors, which Appleton said has been a huge help. These include Crossfit Lake Placid, Smoke Signals and Cornerstone Builders. Bear Essentials will also be selling 9er gear at its Main Street location, including T-shirts and hats.

People who complete the challenge get a patch and sticker, as well as a registration number.

For more information, including full trail descriptions, go to



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