Spring is fast approaching on the Adirondack Coast, and that means it’s time to hike. It also means the trails are likely to still be covered in snow, so if you’re coming from someplace warm don’t forget to pack those snowshoes.
In the Lake Champlain Region, many of the hikes are low elevation so they don’t require a full day to finish. One of the best places to start is the Champlain Area Trails, an ever-expanding collection of trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and Nordic skiing. There are other options, too, like the Blueberry Hill Trails described below. Whatever you pick, prepare to be dazzled by views of Lake Champlain, the High Peaks, the Green Mountains of Vermont, or all three at once!
1. Blueberry Lean-to at the Blueberry Hill trails
Be sure to bring a trail map to help you explore this area — the whole trail network is stunning but we recommend making the Blueberry Lean-to your destination. It’s a good place for lunch (or dinner) with a view, and what a view it is! From your sheltered perch you’ll see some of the town of Elizabethtown and the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area.
To get to the lean-to, park at the second parking spot on Bronson Way and head out on the Dick Olcott Trail. You’ll need to keep an eye out for a steep trail to the left called Dick Olcott Upper Fork, or if you miss it, take a left onto Blueberry Hill Trail. You’ll see signs for the Blueberry Lean-to, which is reached about a mile in from the parking area.
After the lean-to, be sure to check out some of the other trails here. The Blueberry Hill trail system also consists of fairly short, multi-use sections for biking, hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing. Horseback riding is even permitted on some of the trails.
2. Wildway Overlook
If a panoramic view of Lake Champlain and mountains sounds enticing, add the Wildway Overlook to your to-do list. It’s inspiring enough to spend a day on the overlook soaking in the scenery, and it’s so beautiful you might forget about the brief, thigh-burning section required to get there. An added bonus is the interpretive signs along the trail.
After hiking to the overlook, consider exploring the nearby Split Rock Wildway wildlife corridor, which connects Lake Champlain to the Adirondack Mountains. The Wildway Overlook trailhead is located in the hamlet of Whallonsburgh in the town of Essex, about a quarter of a mile south of Reynolds Road. It’s about 0.75 miles to the overlook.
It’s a rare thing to find a 360-degree view in the Adirondacks that’s less than a half-mile from your car, but that’s exactly what Belfry Mountain provides. This short, 0.3-mile trail ascends the mountain at a moderate grade along an old access road for the tower that’s on top. Oh yeah, did we mention there’s a fire tower on this summit? Not only is that a cool end to the hike, you can climb its steps for a guaranteed view.
To get to Belfry Mountains, follow Route 4 from the intersection of Route 22/9N and county Route 4 in Port Henry. Turn on Route 70 and follow it to the crossroads with Tracy Road and Dalton Hill Road. Follow Dalton Hill Road straight through the intersection, up and over the hill to the trailhead on the left. Park across the street on the right.
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