Hiking Bald Mountain: Rocky Paradise in the ADK’s
Sitting just four miles outside the small Adirondack town of Old Forge hikers will find a rocky paradise that leads to not only great views of the Fulton Chain and Forth Lake and wooded forests surrounding them, you will also be treated to one of the Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge Fire Towers, the Rondaxe Fire Tower. Hiking Bald Mountain is the perfect way to spend a morning or afternoon, either alone or with the family!
Bald Mountain has seen its share of name changes, originally being called Pond Mountain by early settlers. The name would later be changed to Bald Mountain for the rocky (or bald) appearance of the mountain. Finally in 1912 the name was officially changed by the state to Rondaxe Mountain. This was done to avoid confusion with a mountain in a neighboring county with the same name, however it is still commonly referred to as Bald Mountain by locals.
Bald Mountain is a moderate 2 mile out and back trail that begins as more of a flat, smooth path but then quickly transforms into a mostly uphill, smooth rocky path that can be slippery at times. Despite this Bald Mountain is a very family friendly hike and during my visit I saw countless families with young children taking on the hike.
When you reach the top you will be treated to the Rondaxe Fire Tower. The original tower was put into place on the top of the mountain in 1912 as a wooden structure with no cab. The structure that remains today replaced the original tower in 1917.
The Quick Facts
- Length: 2 Miles
- Elevation Gain: 416 feet
- Summit Height: 2350 feet
Hiking Bald Mountain
There is a fairly large parking area just beside the trail head for Bald Mountain. It is a popular trail and in the summer months the parking area tends to fill up, but if arriving early in the morning you should be able to get a parking spot.
The trail starts at a mostly flat, smooth path. This was the easy part! But be warned it doesn’t last long! You will quickly begin to ascend and then be greeted by a smooth, uphill rocky hike.
The majority of the trail will be rocky inclines like the one pictured below.
The most difficult part of the hike is trying to navigate the often slippery rocks, but with good shoes you will certainly make it up with no problem. The hike may be especially difficult in the winter when ice and snow increase the slickness of the rocks.
When you hit the half way mark the many viewpoints will begin coming into sight. Don’t let the wide open rocky spaces and views fool you, though. You have not yet reached the summit. I made this mistake years ago as a beginning hiker, but have since returned to make it right! Be sure to continue on for the summit views and fire tower.
Just before reaching the summit you will come upon a rocky spine that will guide to the summit. This section can be a little tricky for small children, so be sure to keep an extra eye on them.
At the summit you will find plenty of rocky areas to sit and enjoy the views (and a picnic if you desire). Don’t miss climbing to the top of the Rondaxe Fire Tower for more stunning views.
While in the area be sure to check out Old Forge, NY. This small hamlet in the Adirondacks is just a five minute drive from the Bald Mountain trail head and has plenty of family friendly attractions. After hiking Bald Mountain, walk Main Street for some local and unique shops and grab a bite to eat, visit the Candy Cottage for some treats, visit New York’s largest water park-Water Safari, or enjoy one of the many other hikes in the area.
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