Forest bathing; a new tag line but a great practice as old as time. The smell of pine needles warmed by the summer sun and leaves whispering and flittering in the breeze. The Adirondacks have long been known for its clean air and healing properties. Hiking Cook Mountain is a great way to clear the smog of busy life and of the soul. This short but strong hike will quickly put an end to chattering thoughts until it is just you, your breath, and nature.
Picnics are the perfect way to enjoy local food, slow down, and enjoy that hard earned view. On a recent summer day my husband and I took advantage of a cooler summer day with no humidity; a high of 75, a cool breeze, and a clear sky. On days like this, the mountains practically call out to be visited. We abided the call and took to Cook Mountain on Baldwin road. We first stopped at the Ticonderoga Natural Foods Coop on Montcalm Street. Here we took advantage of the amazing cheese selection, buying a local pepper jack, Camembert, and a new hand-rubbed espresso and lavender cheese! To make it a top notch mobile charcuterie board we also got a buttery prosciutto, uncured pepperoni, and whole wheat crackers. We completed our haul with a season sour for him and for me, a hard lemon kombucha with lavender, mint, and honey (which was out of this world amazing). However, no picnic is complete without dessert! For this we headed up to Libby’s for a couple of slices of their flourless chocolate torte. It's fudgy and delicious, what chocolate dreams are made of.
With everything loaded into our backpacks it was time to hit the trail. We brought our pooches with us as this is a dog-friendly trail; they just need to be on leash. Cook Mountain is a short but steep adventure. The trip to the summit is 1.1 miles but you gain 1,213 feet in elevation. Pack plenty of water and just take your time.
There is no rock scrambling and you will most likely only need to hold onto a tree on your way down. The full round trip for us including pit stops for rest and the picnic at the top was three hours. The trail is very well maintained and is well marked. The Lake George Land Conservancy keeps everything maintained and offers trail info.
There is a darling bridge over an Adirondack babbling brook that heads you off on your way to find the red marker Ridge Trail. The red marker trail branches off on the left 0.2 miles into the trail. In the next 0.5 miles you will gain 680 feet and the remaining 533 feet over the final 0.6 miles.
I love a good case of foreshadowing from Mother Nature. While on the second leg of elevation there was a teeny little blueberry plant tucked right next to the trail. What a delight! What a surprise!
After reaching the summit we were navigating the trail for the lake views and we found a whole swath of wild blueberries! They were so petite and delish! I think this is one of my favorite things about going out into the woods: you never know what delights you may find. Make sure you are familiar with identifying plants, as there are poisonous berries in the Adirondacks!
From there, it was just moments until we reached the opening with clear views to Flat Rock, Anthony’s Nose, and Roger’s Rock. The sky was a clear blue and the lake sparkled like diamonds. The perfect placement for our picnic of local goodies!
We began our hike at 3:30 p.m., so by the time we made it to the summit we had the spot to ourselves. Thanks to the long summer sun we were able to descend the mountain and head home before there was even a hint of dusk.
For more information about Cook Mountain, visit the Lake George Land Conservancy. While visiting the area be sure to visit the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Champlain Region Visitors Center for local hints, shopping, dining, and more!