In the early part of 2020, we had plans to visit our friends in upstate New York and Vermont wiped out by the pandemic. As the year went along, we learned a new way to travel during those pre-vaccine days in conjunction with our abilities to work remotely. That is to pod with our friend exclusively spending a longer period with them including work days. So we revived our earlier plans and podded with Vru and Mat in New York before visiting Jared in Vermont. The benefit of visiting in the fall was the foliage sweeping across the mountains.
Our hiking plans with Mat and Vru was originally backpacking around Marcy Dam, but changed our plans to day hikes based on the weather outlook. I thought it was a pretty good decision as we were dumped on a couple times during a couple of our hikes. The first was up to Cat Mountain in the Lake George area.
This is part 1 of 5 of our trip out to New York and Vermont. In this part, we cover our first day hike up to Cat Mountain in New York. You can find the rest of the series as they are posted in the index below.
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working remote & travel logistics
Our total time traveling would be roughly 1.5 weeks spread over 2 weekends. We would start our drive after work Thursday and start our return after work two Mondays from when we left. We decided on driving our car for our main mode of transportation since the Northeast was still within the limits of our happy driving distance (barely) and we didn’t want to risk COVID for such a short flight.
We would split our time in two places, upstate New York with our Vru and Mat and then Vermont with Jared. Since we maintained our regular work week, our exploration of the mountains were specific to the weekends.
Similar our housing was divided up between our time at the two areas and we ended up staying at a single place only at each locations to minimize indoor contact. In New York, we stayed at Mat and Vru’s house. Thanks for hosting us y’all! In Burlington, we stayed at the Hilton Doubletree Burlington with a cash and point stay for 78,100 Hilton Points and USD$199.90. This included a USD$60 discount from an AMEX offer and five night free even though typically it doesn’t work for cast and point stays (inside flyer). As with our previous Doubletree experience during the pandemic, they still had individually made breakfasts for Diamond and Gold members, which I had through my AMEX Hilton Aspire card (Frequentmiler review).
While we did eat out few times where outdoor seating was possible, though we mainly bought groceries and cooked with our friends.
Since we were driving, we overpacked for all possible adventures and work accessories including our backpacking gear and even my main desktop computer. The former didn’t see much use due to the weather, but the later made working remote easier than on my old surface pro.
- name: Cat Mountain Red Trail
- distance: 3.5 miles
- elevation change: 1,175 ft
- time: 2:06 hours (1:45 moving)
- location: Adirondack Forest Preserve, near Bolton, New York, USA (google map directions)
For our evening hike, we took the most direct and trail to the summit of Cat Mountain in the Red Trail starting from Edgecomb Pond. Our hike would be marked with little red markers nailed to trees.
Alternatively, Cat Mountain can be access by the Yellow and Blue trails from the Cat & Thomas Mountain Trailhead off of route 11 (google map directions). The Yellow and Blue trails also forms a 7.3 mile loop with the Yellow Trail going over Thomas Mountain also (alltrails). There is a dirt road that connects the Red Trail to the Blue Trail near Edgecomb Pond, but it is private property and not listed on the Lake George Land Conservancy webpage.
We headed out for our hike after work reaching the trailhead shortly after 4pm. There were a few cars still in the parking lot.
The first third of a mile was on a wide forest road
bring us to the edge of the perfectly still Edgecomb Pond. The Bolton water treatment is located here, leading me to believe this maybe the water source for the town.
When the fire road rounds the pond, the Red Trail turns left into the forest. The forest road continues, but is not labeled on the Lake George Land Conservancy webpage and as a private road on OSM.
For the next mile, the trail would undulate with an overall elevation gain through a rather thick forest. The late afternoon sun shiny through with the moisture in the air gave it a mystical feel.
We would head uphill for a quarter mile at 13.2% grade, drop the next quarter at -8.9% while turning right, crest the next hill in another quarter mile at 17.1% grade, and then dropping again down to a creek bed at -13.6% grade.
For our final third of a mile to reach the top, we turned left and our elevation gain picked up to a relatively constant 29.3% grade.
The terrain got a little rocky at points
and loose dirt at others. The foliage started to pop more as we gained elevation.
Along the way we saw a salamander blending in among the changing foliage.
After 1.7 miles we reached the top of Cat Mountain with 270 degree views from the northeast to the west. The main view here is of Lake George. This was also where the Red trail ended and the Blue Trail began (alltrails).
To the northeast, we could see Edgecomb Pond where we came from. In Lake George is the large peninsula ending at Montcalm Point with the First Peak, French Point, and Fifth Peak from right to left. On the ridge behind the Lake, there is Black Mountain, Erebus Mountain, and Sleeping Beauty from left to right.
Looking to the southeast, Dome Island is seen floating in the middle of Lake George. The mountain directly behind it is Buck Mountain with Pilot Knob further south (to the right). Toward the end of the lake is Long Island.
Toward the South we saw Trout Lake with too many peaks for me to identify here.
Similarly to the west regarding the many peaks, but it was the rain that caught our attention. We decided not to stick around for it or the sunset.
To return to the car, we retraced our steps.
Luckily we were done from the steepest section before we were dumped on by the rain clouds.
The rating below are based on an unevenly distributed scale of 1-5. For full description of the ratings and the categories, see the explanation here.
views/experience: 3. For the short hike, the wide open sweeping views overlooking Lake George and the surrounding mountains was the highlight. Additionally, the perfectly still Edgewater Lake and mystical forest provided some variety to the hike.
difficulty: 2. While the hike is short, the gains are a little bit steeper so it may make the trail harder than it seems.
technical: 2. The trail is decently signed, but there was a couple points where we stopped to actively look for the next marker. The downed leaves and lesser traffic might have played to that. There are some steep sections on this trail with some minor scrambling at points and loose dirt at others. Multiple of us slipped on the way down. So this isn’t the easiest stroll in the woods.
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