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Easy access to big views on Baxter

November 14, 2018
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer (jlevine@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

KEENE VALLEY - For a short, relatively easy hike, Baxter Mountain near Keene Valley can tick a lot of boxes on various checklists.

The mountain, which is 2,440 feet above sea level, offers views of the High Peaks, Hurricane Mountain and Keene Valley, and is also part of a hiking challenge and an annual trail run.

But even if you're not into challenges, the hike up Baxter is worth the hour or so of your time it will take.

Article Photos

Baxter Mountain offers views of the High Peaks and Hurricane Mountain, as well as the hamlet of Keene Valley.
(News photo — Justin A. Levine)

There are three trails that lead to the top of the peak, and each one starts on private land before crossing onto state land that is part of the Hammond Pond Wild Forest. So be sure to stay on the trail and clean up after yourself. Don't be the reason a trail gets closed.

Starting from state Route 9N, the trail proceeds gradually to a series of switchbacks, which make the steeper middle part of the trail easy to navigate for pretty much anyone. Following blue state Department of Environmental Conservation markers, the switchbacks begin at just over 0.4 miles.

Unlike many other trails, the Baxter Mountain path is heavily marked and includes arrow signs at each bend in the switchbacks. Even with some fresh snow on the ground, this should be an easy trail to follow.

Fact Box

Baxter Mountain

ACTIVITY: Hiking, snowshoeing, trail running

DISTANCE: 2.5 miles round trip

DIFFICULTY: Moderate in winter, easy in summer

DIRECTIONS: From Lake Placid, take state Route 73 through Keene toward Keene Valley and turn left onto state Route 9N toward Elizabethtown. From the turn, go 1.9 miles to the trailhead on the right.

The easy stroll through a mature forest offers open lines of sight through the hardwoods, and even the evergreens are generally large enough that their lower branches have fallen off.

At 0.93 miles, the blue trail is joined by a red-marked trail that comes in from Beede Road in Keene Valley. Bear right at the junction to continue up the mountain for another half-mile or so before crossing onto state land.

From there, you'll want some sort of traction device from late fall through the spring. There are a series of small rock ledges that would be easy to navigate in the summer but which can be icy when the weather starts to get cold. There are a couple of places where logs or rocks have been strategically placed to make the going easier, but be prepared for ice even if the start of the trail was clear.

At 1.1 miles, the trail comes to its first opening where views stretch for miles. Roughly behind you is Hurricane Mountain, one of the Adirondack fire tower peaks, while the Giant Mountain and Dix Mountain ranges stretch out in front.

The trail continues for another two-tenths of a mile to the summit, where there are limited views. The third trail to the top is marked with yellow discs and come up from Beede Farm, also in Keene Valley.

There are a number of herd paths near and around the summit, but the open woods make it relatively easy to spot a trail marker if you get turned around.

Baxter Mountain offers a great way to get High Peaks views while not having to hike a High Peak. It is a popular mountain, though, so you should expect to see some other people while up there, especially since it is included in the Lake Placid 9er hiking challenge, which is new this year. The beginning of the trail also serves as the start of The Mountaineer gear store's annual fun run part of the Great Adirondack Trail Run, so check The Mountaineer's website for the date of the run each June and avoid Baxter on that day.

 
 

 

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