trip report: New York – Owls Head Mountain, October 4 2020

To conclude our weekend with with Mat, Vru, and their dog Zoey we finished our third hike in three days. While we didn’t end up backpacking on our trip like we planned, we did get some miles in after all. This final hike with them was again in the Adirondacks, but further west as we looked to avoid the crowds near Lake Placid. We would hit up another vista and check off another fire tower on the ADK Fire Tower Challenge for them ( The foliage was peaking just right as well making the otherwise hike through a forest more stimulating.

Thanks to Vru and Mat for putting us up and hanging out for a week.


This is part 3 of 5 of our trip out to New York and Vermont. In this part, we cover our second day hike up to Owls Head Mountain in New York. You can find the rest of the series as they are posted in the index below.


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1 working remote & travel logistics
2 trip report New York – Cat Mountain
3 trip report New York – Hurricane Mountain
4 trip report New York – Owls Head Mountain
      4.1 hike information
      4.2 video
      4.3 report
      4.4 impressions
5 trip report Vermont – Mount Mansfield
6 trip report Vermont – Colchester Causeway
7 trip budget

hike information 

  • Owls Head Mountain
  • distance: 6.48 miles
  • elevation change: 1,585 ft
  • time: 3:19 hours (2:38 moving)
  • location: Sargent Ponds Wild Forest, Adirondack Forest Preserve, near Long Lake, New York, USA (google map directions)
  • Owls Head Mountains is one of with a fire tower on its peak and part of the ADK Mountain Club Fire Tower Challenge (


The typical hike and the trail we took is from Endion Ln. However, indications on trail and from National Geographic Maps (provided by and shown below) provide an alternative starting point from Lake Eaton State Campground where there is a day use fee ( and the condition of the trail maybe muddy or unknown ( Alternatively, there is even a further option that seem to connect from State Highway 30 north of Lake Eaton State Campground. These trails are not indicated on current OSM maps.


return to the index

hike video

hike report

Unlike our previous days, the forecast did not call for rain. That didn’t get us to the trailhead any earlier however as we rolled up around 1:30pm. There were plenty of parking at this point as early hikers were once again on their way out. After registering at the trailhead, we crossed a wooden bridge over a dry creek and started our hike. 


Our initial steps of our hike over 0.2 miles were uphill with a 13.8% grade to get our hearts pumping. 


Then the trail flattened out for the next 1.5 miles undulating through the forest. At points there were logs down on the ground at areas where the trail potentially could get muddy. About 1 mile from the trailhead, we came to the junction for Lake Eaton going straight while our path to Owls Head Mountain turns left. 


At the 1.8 mile mark, the trail starts to gain elevation again. At first on at a 8.0% grade for a half mile. Then an average of 22.1% grade for another half mile over a rather rocky terrain with steepest incline near the top at 38.7%. 


The climb brought us to the former site of the observer’s cabin at a saddle.


We would take a few steps downwards from the saddle past the cabin site before our final push to the summit of Owls Head Mountain. The last quarter mile averaged 20.6% grade but got up to 41.3% as the trail involved some minor scrambling over rock slabs and tree roots. 


Then through the woods, we see the fire tower coming into view.

The firetower is accessible and provides for a nice panoramic view, though the scenic direction is to the east with Long Lake stretched out between the mountains. 


After hangout out on the tower, we headed down to the rocky outcrops below the tower to give other’s at the summit their turn.


The better outcrop was past the tower to the south. After a snack here, we retraced our steps back to the trailhead.


hike impressions


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: 2. Similar to our previous hikes, the summit was the highlight of the hike and really the only feature of interest. The rest of the hike was through the woods and wouldn’t have been much of an interest.

difficulty: 2. The elevation wasn’t too bad but most of it was over the course of a mile and is a bit rocky so I wouldn’t say this is the easiest hike. Others report that the trail could get muddy, but it wasn’t too bad for us during our hike since the fall is typically dryer. 

technical: 2. The trail is well traveled, though some thought the navigation near the summit wasn’t the easiest. There are some steepness and scrambling to warrant some additional technicality. 

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3 thoughts on “trip report: New York – Owls Head Mountain, October 4 2020

      1. I do hiking almost each week in fall and winter. In summer it is impossible. I have not posted much about desert hiking. I work with camels in desert, so it is very common for me to go in the desert and hike the dunes.

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