by Ed Conway
On September 18, my daughter Kim and I left the house as the sun was coming up. Our goal was to hit the trail to Snow Mountain and Rooster Comb before the trails got crowded. So, we made the nearly two-hour drive from Amsterdam and were in the trailhead parking lot with only a couple of other cars. We hopped out and started our hike up the trail before 8. After about a mile, the trail forks to either Snow or Rooster Comb. Today, we chose to head up Snow Mountain first. The trail is anywhere from 2.5 to 3 miles, depending on whose blog post you read, either way, once the trail starts up, it is pretty much uphill the entire way with a few little, short sections to recover. After a little bit of scrambling near the top, we got to the summit with some beautiful views of Keene Valley and Giant Mountain to the east and, what I believe may be Lower and Upper Wolfjaw to the southwest. There was only a small smattering of color to add to the view, but our day wasn’t done yet. We headed back down to the cut-off trail to Rooster Comb. Again, as we neared the summit, there was the usual bit of scrambling up to a vista overlooking the Keene Valley, then a short hike through the trees got us to the summit proper with another beautiful view of the high peaks and again, only a bit of color here and there. After soaking in the view, it was time to head back to the car and home. Rather than retrace our steps, we used the Rooster Comb trail to get back.
Seven days later, my wife Kathy and I headed back to Keene to hike up Rooster Comb only. We were hoping for a bit more color and were rewarded for the effort. While the color on the surrounding mountains were still pretty much green, the view into the valleys were like a painter’s palette of color. The reds were so bright in the sun, it looked like someone had turned on lights to make them glow.
As before, once the trail starts to gain elevation, it is pretty much uphill the entire way with the usual rocks and roots normal for the Adirondacks. There is nothing especially difficult on either trail, but, like most of the other peaks, there is some scrambling involved. In one steeper section on Rooster Comb, there is a set of stairs to help get up through the area. Although the hike with my daughter was a quick jaunt up and down, only stopping on the peaks, this hike can be done by anyone in relatively reasonable shape and is a beautiful introduction to the Keene Valley without committing to climbing the extremely popular high peaks. On the first climb, we only had to share Rooster Comb with another pair of hikers who made it up just as we were heading back down. While heading down on both trips, we did come across hikers on their way up, so bring a mask that you can quickly cover your face as you pass. All, in all, I highly recommend this hike for the views at the top without needing to commit more than a few hours.
If you want to celebrate fall, these hikes are the ticket! You will be treated to an unforgettable view of the awesomeness of the natural world while enjoying exercising too.
Autumn Hiking Links
Ed and Kathy completed the New York State Virtual Run 434 (434 being the number of miles for the route from Niagara Square in Buffalo to Times Square, NYC)
Ed Conway and his wife Kathy are members of the HMRRC and frequently volunteered before the pandemic struck. Ed has run 5ks to 50-milers. Kathy loves the annual Freihofer’s race.