I think it’s safe to say I’ve officially taken on the Fire Towers Challenge in the Adirondacks! After my recent hike to the top of Azure Mountain, I decided to hike another northern Adirondack trail: the trail to the top of Loon Lake Mountain.
Loon Lake Mountain is located in Franklin County, near the lake of the same name, a few miles south of the small town of Malone. The trail head can be found on the Port Kent-Hopkinton Turnpike, where there is a small parking lot. This is where I parked, and after writing down my name in the trail register, I started hiking towards my third summit of the Fire Towers challenge.
This trail leading to the top of Loon Lake Mountain is still quite recent. In fact, a good portion of the land it crosses wasn’t opened to the public about fifteen years ago, due to the activities of logging companies. It is therefore not surprising that the first metres of the hike are mainly on logging roads through a young forest.
The hike was fairly easy on the logging roads, although the path was going slightly uphill. At times, I could see the mountain ahead of me between the trees (I could even see the distinctive silhouette of the fire tower), so I knew the real climb would begin soon.
The trail eventually leaves the logging road to go deeper into the forest unto a dirt trail. The climb remains easy, and I liked that a few wooden boardwalks over muddy sections allowed me to keep my feet dry. The trail also took me over three small bridges, under which flowed small streams.
It was after these bridges that the climb really began. In fact, for the first three kilometres, this hike seemed pretty easy to me. But once the climb begins, it is relentless. I had to stop many times to catch my breath.
At one point, the hardwood forest gives way to a coniferous forest and the trail becomes stonier and steeper, almost giving the impression of climbing a long irregular staircase (it reminded me of Ampersand Mountain in Saranac Lake). It is also at that point that the mosquitoes became a little more voracious. It was a good motivation to not stop for too long and continue on my way up!
After a long, steep climb, the trail flattens out and winds between spruce trees and mossy ground. Then I finally made it to the top of Loon Lake Mountain!
At 1,014 metres (3,314 feet) high, the rocky summit of Loon Lake Mountain offers a great view of the forest and wetlands that surround the mountain. In the distance, you can easily recognize the distinctive shape of Whiteface Mountain, and see the silhouette of the High Peaks.
The fire tower at the top dates from 1928. Unfortunately, it is in disrepair and the first wooden steps have been removed so it was not possible for me to climb to the top of it (nor is it recommended at this point). I know there are plans to renovate it, but I’m not sure when this will take place.
I would have stayed longer at the summit, but the black flies were relentless, so I preferred to get back on the trail in the forest, where the mosquitoes seemed to me much less tiresome. I took my time getting back down the rocky section of the trail (luckily, the trail was quite dry, so the rocks were not too wet and slippery) and then the rest of the hike down was fairly easy.
In total, my hike totaled 10.5 kilometres (6.5 miles), with an elevation gain of 529 metres (1,735 feet). Although the climb was quite strenuous just before the summit, I didn’t find it to be too difficult a hike. And I’m even more looking forward to the next ones!
***Loon Lake Mountain is part of the Fire Tower Challenge, an hiking challenge which involves hiking to the old fire towers of the Adirondacks and the Catskills . To learn more about the challenge or to follow my progress, visit this page.***