As the days shorten, the nights cool and the first fall color strokes the maples, the hiking season heats up.
The bugs are gone, the summer dwindles and hikers feel a pull to the mountains.
In this corner of the Adirondacks, that means the popular and central trails can be mobbed.
Even on the northeast outskirts, at Lyon Mountain, Silver Lake Mountain and Poke-O-Moonshine, trailheads are busy. And in the Heart Lake region, you won’t find any late-summer solitude.
Instead, I look for the quiet corners of the park for a fun family trek. This weekend that meant Coon Mountain.
Tough to find on the backroads of Wadhams, the 1-mile trail up Coon Mountain winds through mixed hardwoods, over rockfalls, along anorthosite cliffs and up a ravine. Yet the trail never gets too steep for the young or old average young hiker. Yes, Brigid is the young and I’m the old.
Coon Mountain carries some special memories for me.
You see, I wouldn’t know about Coon Mountain or the ubiquitous gray anorthosite that makes up the Adirondacks, without Dennis Aprill, an outdoor-writing legend in our part of the park.
Aprill, who wrote guide books and newspaper columns for decades, died in 2010. I edited Aprill’s work on the Press-Republican Outdoors Page for many years.
I learned about Coon Mountain in his “Path’s Less Traveled” guide book, a favorite of mine. Out-of-print now, this jam-packed guide is a great find if you spy one in a used book store. Re-reading the Coon Mountain entry before our visit, I was reminded how much Aprill brought himself and his family into hikes. He was the original Adirondack Dad. More about his hiking philosophy in a future post.
By the way, if you are looking for more quiet corners of the park, see the great work being done by Champlain Area Trails on the eastern edge of the Adirondacks. You can download their map, which includes Coon Mountain.