I’m not legitimately considered to be a hiker. Every time my wife invites me out for a long hike, she usually regrets it. I guess I ‘complain’ too much? “It’s too hot”, “This is too long”, “When will we get to the end?”, “I’m thirsty!” Nope, not usually my cup of tea. So, when my wife and teenage daughter asked if I wanted to hike up Belfry Mountain in Witherbee, NY , my immediate reaction was, “NO”. They then proceeded to persuade me it would be ‘fun’. They told me of an old fire tower at the top. That did ‘peak’ my interest. Pardon the pun. Then they said it was an ‘easy’ hike. Yup, heard that one before. But the deal maker to me was they said they are taking the dogs and it’s less than a mile long out and back. Less than a mile? And easy? Count me in!
The trail head was easy to find. It’s located just outside the old mining village of Witherbee, NY. Parking was easy, being just off County Route 70. A small DEC sign marks the start of the hike near a rusty antique like metal gate. We piled out of the car and off we went. The dogs seemed genuinely much more excited than we all seemed to be. But, their joy is contagious and we were all smiling in no time. We have a mixed breed Shepherd/Beagle mix and a PUG. Known to be ‘the other’ couch potato in the house. Not exactly a breed that you’d take on a long hike.
The incline of the trail was continuous. But I wouldn’t call it difficult. Wild flowers and a wide variety of trees line the trail. Along the path we spot a couple of unique looking but pretty birds. I don’t know what kind they are but I’ll bet this would be a good trail for bird watchers. Nature can be so beautiful. I just don’t want to travel ten miles up a mountain side to find it. This trail really suits my desires. And the pug’s too. Its summit is only 1,840 feet up. But the views we are taking in make it feel like we are up 8,000 feet! I’m thinking this trail would also be great for snowshoeing in the winter. In less than a half hour we are already at the top. ”Breath taking!” Not literally of course, since our pug isn’t even panting! But the views are spectacular!
The antique looking Belfrey fire tower we find at the very top looks to be a very old steel structure. I presume it to be wobbly. But, it’s not. In fact it is very stable. I can’t wait to climb to the top! If height isn’t your thing, there’s a rock ledge for the squeamish to sit and admire nature’s picturesque landscape. But, to get the full 360 degree view from every direction, you’ll have to overcome your fear, and go to the top of the tower.
From the top of Belfrey tower, you can see the villages of Witherbee and Mineville. On a clear day as this one was, you can see for miles and miles in any direction! On one side of the tower, you can see a ‘bald’ manmade mountain used as a large mining operation many years ago. The silver in color mountain is made of iron tailings. They say there are miles of mines dug out under the ground throughout the whole area. And oh, *stomp, stomp*, it sounds like it’s hollow under the Belfrey mountain, too! I remember visiting The Iron Center in Port Henry, NY and hearing the history of this fascinating land of commerce from days gone by. From the other directions you can see historic Lake Champlain, Vermont Green Mountains and the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of New York.
Our hike took place on a clear sunny day in the middle of September. The colorful, bight autumn colored leaves, slowly making their way to burst forth in color, against the evergreen trees. The beauty is truly unmistakable! I’m already making plans for an early October hike! I can only imagine the colors deriving from the multitude of trees yet to change. The scenic Adirondack Mountains that surround us tower the valleys below, and can never disappoint at any time of the year! I think we had to of spent nearly two hours admiring the scenery.
As we slowly make our way down the mildly sloping hill, you could say, were taking our time. In fact, as the old cliché goes, we really did ‘take time to smell the flowers’. I now realize what a satisfying and fulfilling family time we had. No television set, nor video games. And we still had fun? Maybe I will even consider a little longer hike next time. MAYBE. My wife is happy. The dogs enjoyed the trail. Even my teenage daughter is in good spirits (even without her phone!) Yes-This was a good day.