October 2018 - HIKING & BACKPACKING
banner photo: Moxham trail uphill from the trailhead. Dave Kraus/krausgrafik.com
One of the Most Outstanding Day Hikes in the Adirondacks
By Dave Kraus
When upstate New Yorkers hear the name North Creek, they usually think of only one peak near this hamlet in the central Adirondacks. Gore Mountain and its ski area, southwest of town, have been associated with the area for many years.
But there’s another mountain nearby that is worth looking for on the map. Moxham Mountain and its long ridgeline are easily visible to the north, but often blend into the overall landscape, and escape notice from travelers heading along the Hudson on NY Route 28 towards Indian Lake.
To find Moxham and the 2.7-mile trail that leads to its summit, go north about seven miles on NY Route 28N from North Creek to Minerva. On the way, as you are about to reach the turnoff to Olmstedville, the view to your left is dominated by the craggy open rock slopes of Moxham Point – towering over marshy Moxham Pond.
Continue west on Route 28N, then turn left on 14th Road. After a few miles the pavement will end, and look on the left for the small parking area for this relatively new trail, which was built in 2012.
After you sign-in at the trail register, head gently uphill on the trail that’s well-marked with yellow DEC trail disks. After about a half-mile, the forest opens up along the top of a small ridge and you get your first viewpoint – a taste of what’s to come. There are mountains in the distance to the west, but the ridge across from you blocks a view to the Hudson River.
As you continue, the trail heads back into the deeper woods, then trends downward and follows the contours of the land to a stream crossing. The stream drains the swampy beaver meadow to your left. Check it out if you wish, but it’s a soggy bushwhack.
Cross the stream and the trail begins heading upward again, curving around the south side of the marsh, crossing another small stream. Then, it heads upward toward the ridge that will lead you eventually to the summit. On the way you will see a giant glacial erratic boulder on your left, one of many scattered through the forest.
At 1.3 miles, you begin to encounter open spots in the tree cover, which start to show you the views toward Gore Mountain to the south. As you go through the forest to each open spot, the scenery just gets better.
If you have small children, stopping to turnaround at one of these open spots can make a great hike by itself. The view lets you promise the kids a reward without hiking all the way to the summit, and the trip down gives them a good sampling of changing terrain and vegetation.
As you walk from one open spot to the next along the gradually ascending ridge, a huge number of landmarks come into view. Just below you at the foot of the ridge are a series of ponds: Mud, Long, Clear, Fuller and others. All are on a shelf across the Hudson River to the north of Route 28, so the casual highway driver would never even know they are there.
The Hudson River itself is not visible down below the lip of the shelf. But across the valley, the slopes of Gore Mountain quickly head up to its summit, where the tiny points of some ski area structures are barely visible. In the fall, when the foliage is near peak, it makes a breathtaking panorama. Take a headlamp for the return trip, stay until dark, and watch the lights of North Creek click on in the gathering dusk.
Continue along the ridgeline, enjoying each viewpoint as you climb toward the summit. And more peaks come into view. Off in the southeast is Crane Mountain, which hosts its own spectacular view. For more info on Crane, see September 2017, “The High Peak of the Southern Adirondacks” by Bill Ingersoll. Off to the southwest are the peaks of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness.
If you know where to look, you can also pick out the bare spot on a hillside that marks the garnet mine in North River, and Snowy and Blue mountains off to the west. As you get closer to the summit, you are able to get glimpses of the Hudson downstream from North Creek as it flows toward Riparius.
Once you reach the summit, enjoy this finest view of all, with the landscape spread out in all directions. On a clear day, every landmark you’ve seen one by one on the hike upwards comes into view all in one spectacular panorama. Plan to spend a while on top of the world here, enjoying your accomplishment. To return, just go back the way you came, and grab the second chance to see each vista.
At just over 2,400 feet elevation at the summit, Moxham is not a difficult climb from the parking area 900 feet below. There’s no place on the trail that could truly be called steep. But the gradual climb, and the large number of view points along the route gives the day hiker a lot of bang for the hiking buck.
Dave Kraus (firstname.lastname@example.org) of Schenectady is a longtime area cyclist, photographer, and writer who is using this year’s foliage season to find some new adventures. Visit his website at KrausGrafik.com.