Hurricane Mountain

Hiking Date: May 1st, 2010: With Spring in the middle of its season, I wanted to try a new hike rather then go to my usual close to home hikes I have a tendency to re-hike over and over again. This time I choose Hurricane Mountain mostly because I read a blog entry during the Winter about it and it peaked my curiosity. Not to mention I also heard that the Adirondack Park Agency recommended taking down the fire tower and I wanted to see it before it happened.


Elevation: 3,694ft
Vertical Ascent: Approx. 1,982ft
Trip Length: 2.6 Miles (1 way)

The Hike: My day started off at 5:00am with about 1.5 hour drive up past Keene Valley to the trail head. The trail head is located between Keene Valley and Elizabeth Town on Route 9N. After signing in with the log book, the hike immediately starts climbing in elevation. I was on little sleep and had done a lot of leg work the previous day so my legs were not happy going up hill at the start of the climb but at least it go me prepared for what was ahead.

The trail eventually levels off when you come to Spruce Hill Brook (I’m not positive if this is the name of the brook). Even though its a brook, it looks more like a pond as it looks like a beaver got a hold of the wetland area and built a couple of damns. The trail goes right over it but thanks to the great people who maintain the trails, their is a foot bridge that goes right over it. Unfortunately this is also where the mud started but hiking with the Adirondacks you get used to it.

After the wetland area, there is a steady incline the rest of the way to top. One thing that I noticed and really enjoyed was the type of forest that I was in. I don’t know the name of the type of forest but their is not a lot of trees around so you see the tops of the surrounding mountains and the forest  does not feel so constrained. At the higher elevations I actually ran into about 4 inches of snow on the ground. I had been seeing snow all the way up the mountain but it has always been off to the side, but now it was covering the trail and mixing with the mud which made for some tricky leg work at some points. And by tricky leg work I mean my legs flawing all around to make sure I didn’t fall on my butt.

Most of the way up I could see the top which is actually something I did not like as it made my progress seem slow. But in about 2 hours from when I first started hiking, I reached the trail junction to the top. From here it was only about 0.1 miles to the top which scooted up a rock face to an open top. Their is nothing like arriving at the top of a mountain that has a 360 degree view of the surrounding area.

The top of Hurricane is amazing. Great views of the surrounding area make the 2+ hour hike up the mountain well worth all the sore muscles. To the East is Lake Champlain, to the South is Giant and Rocky, and to the Northwest is Whiteface Mountain. Not to mention getting to check out the fire tower. Unfortunately the tower is closed and the first 3 stories of the stairs have been removed. It definitely has seen better days and I understand why the APA recommended taking it down. Its a shame that a piece of Adirondack history needs to be taken down but the condition that it is in, it’s probably wise before something bad happens to it and possibly injure someone in the process.

I spent quite a bit of time at the top, taking pictures and just enjoying it all. Their is something about being on top of a mountain in the early morning that gives a sense of peace about everything in the world. No matter what troubles or drama may be going on in your life, you can step away from it and just enjoy the moment. I find that being up their early in the morning brings a little bit of extra peace as its kind of like the calm before the storm. Before the day gets busy with the business of life, their is a moment to just breath and take it all in.

The way down was actually a little bit dangerous as the snow covered up the mud and when you think you were stepping on just a piece of snow, it hid a mud slide that caused me to do some tricky foot work to keep my foot hold. I actually did end up falling once which I wasn’t to proud of. Luckily I didn’t have any more incidents on the way down and made it back to the car in one piece and injury free.

Conclusion: Hurricane Mountain is a great mountain to climb. Beautiful views at the top make this hike a must for anybody who enjoys hiking in the Adirondacks. I would not recommend it if you haven’t hiked a lot and are not in relatively okay shape. It is demanding on the legs and lungs just like some of the high peaks. Its part of the Fire Tower Challenge which makes is a check mark for anybody doing that but even if your not, I still highly recommend this mountain be put on your list of mountains to climb. I’m sure I will be climbing this mountain again sometime in the future.

Photos: I went a little bit picture crazy with this one but they are worth it. Their are some landscape photos toward the bottom.


Jonathan Volks

About The Author

Jonathan Volks is currently a Web Programmer at Skidmore College in Upstate New York. Where he maintains Skidmore's main website and builds custom web applications to support Marketing and Communications needs. In his free time, Jonathan likes to travel to the Adirondacks and hike along the thousands of miles of trails the park has to offer. He has completed the Fire Tower Challenge (30/30) and is currently working on the Saranac Lake 6er (2/6) and the 46 High Peaks (12/46).