Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain has a commanding summit view which gets even better when the fire tower is open. There's 360 degree views of the High Peaks and Green Mountains in Vermont, Lake Champlain, and the Champlain Valley. It may be accessed by either of two trails which vary in steepness.
How to get there
The Ranger Trail: from the intersection of Route 9 and Route 9N in Keeseville, follow Route 9 south for 7.5 miles to the trailhead on the right at the Poke-O-Moonshine Day Use area.
The Observer's Trail: this trailhead is found on Route 9 approximately 4-miles south of exist 33 on I-87.
By the numbers
- The 4.8-mile, round-trip Observer's Trail is the new route which ascends 1,392-feet from the trailhead to the summit. This follows an old access road used by fire observers. The trail travels through the forest for much of its length and several beaver ponds may be observed along the route. This is less steep than the original route.
- The original, 2.4-mile, round-trip Ranger Trail ascends 1,280 feet from the trailhead in the Poke-O-Moonshine Day Use Area to the summit. This steep trail has been upgraded with stone steps, trail rerouting, and access to photogenic rock features. This is the most popular route up the mountain, but also the shortest and steepest.
- Summit elevation: 2,170 feet
- It is possible to do a loop hike, but some road walking will be required.
The tower has been open to the public since restoration was completed in 1996, adding an on-site guide, interpretive panels in the fire tower cab, and opening hours. During the summer that is Thursdays through Mondays. There's also selected weekends in the fall.
Both routes meet on the way to the summit. Outstanding views can be had from the open summit as well as the cab of the tower.
This is considered a fairly easy snowshoe when using the Observer's Trail because the incline is so gradual. The steeper Ranger Trail is more technically challenging.
Poke-O-Moonshine's cliffs are considered one of the best climbing locations in the northeast. There are more than 250 climbing routes on numerous cliff faces. The 400-foot high Main Face is one prominent route, and there are many other faces with shorter climbing routes.
The cliffs are easily accessed from the parking area at the DEC Poke-O-Moonshine Day Use Area near the base of the mountain. Picnic tables, fire places, barbecue grills, and two vault privies are located at the day use area. Overnight camping is prohibited.
NOTE: DEC closes climbing routes on portions of the Main Face from April 1 through mid-summer to protect nesting peregrine falcons and their chicks. Learn more about peregrine falcons and Adirondack rock climbing.
When the weather and conditions are right it's some of the best, and most accessible, ice climbing in the Adirondacks.