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Best peak for children?

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  • #16
    Big Slide Loop or out and back?

    We are going to be staying near the Garden Trailhead next month and are going to hike Big Slide this time.

    Recommendations on going out and back over the Brothers versus the Loop Trail.

    We are also going to be staying with a family that wants to do a much shorter and easier hike. Would they be better off trying the first Brother, or heading towards Johns Brook Lodge?

    Thank you!


    • #17
      Loops are always more fun; I recommend looping.

      If your friends want the shorter version, where they will turn back part way and you will continue, definitely go to First Brother. That way they get a nice high point with views. The trail to JBL is a fine walk, but nothing special.

      Watch condition reports as it gets closer. "Next month" might look like summer in some years, but in other years you might still want to bring microspikes for some sections.


      • #18
        By next month, do you mean April? You'll almost certainly need to be prepared for snow and ice, especially up high. Microspikes and even snowshoes very well may still be necessary (remember snowshoes are required by regulation in the High Peaks). Even down low may still be no walk in the park if you're trying to find easier options for the family you're staying with.

        Spring is a hard time of year to prepare for, especially well in advance. How quickly the snow and ice melts depends on a ton of different variables, and it is different from year to year. Some years, snowshoes are still necessary in the High Peaks even as late at Memorial Day weekend. It's also worth pointing out that the snow and ice often finishes melting from the trail surfaces themselves last (since hiker traffic has been packing the snow down into a solid ribbon of ice all winter long).

        Spring is very much the season of "hope for the best, but go prepared for the worst."

        Keep in mind also that after the snow melts is mud season- and this is the time of year when hiking traffic can cause extra damage to the trails (soil erosion). The DEC will often issue a hiking advisory for this time of year, asking hikers to stay off of steeper trails in the High Peaks to help minimize the potential for added impacts.

        My advice in any case would be to plan a stop into the Mountaineer shortly after your arrival in the area, to get updated backcountry conditions info and to rent any necessary gear for hikes if needed (snowshoes, etc.).


        In terms of answering your questions specifically:

        The Brothers is definitely the more direct route to- and from- Big Slide. Coming down over the Brothers does mean some elevation gain but not a whole lot, and it's definitely the easier retreat than taking the longer way out via Johns Brook. I would say go up via the Brothers, and then see how you're feeling- if you're up for a longer hike out, take the loop. If you're feeling a bit tired and want to err on the side of caution, return via the Brothers.

        In terms of easier hikes for the other family- I think a lot depends on their willingness to deal with snow (rent snowshoes at the mountaineer?) as well as just what the snow conditions are during your visit (and again, it's hard to say this far out exactly what those conditions will be). JBL is an OK hike but it's still a solid 6 miles round trip and if there's still snow and ice down low- that could be a lot for someone not used to hiking on snowshoes. Plus there's also even easier trips in the vicinity.

        Some other easier options include:

        Round Pond: It's a pretty short hike into Round Pond via the Dix trail. This is a beautiful little pond that escapes a lot of the "chaos" of the Keene Valley/St. Huberts region despite being pretty close to the road.

        The Ausable Club: The East and West River trails provide access along the Ausable River with nice views. Plus there's a number of crossover trails so they could temper the distance as needed pretty easily. (Just gotta remember there's the added road walk from the parking area to the trailhead, and no dogs.)

        Giant's Washbowl: It's a steep (but relatively short) climb up to the Washbowl but the trail ascends a south facing slope and the Washbowl isn't that high up, so it's possible that the trail could be free of snow and ice by the time you visit. (If there is still snow/ice, this may not be very beginner friendly at all.)

        Shingletree Pond: This one is down near exit 30 on the Northway. There's a relatively short hike that starts at Courtney Pond off of Rt 9, continues through a culvert under the Northway, and ends at Shingletree Pond. This one is also even lower in elevation so it's more likely to be snow/ice free.

        Clements Pond: This one is up north of Keene. It's a 3 mile round-trip hike to a secluded pond in the Wilmington Wild Forest. Despite not being far from Keene, this hike also escapes much of the high traffic that plagues many of the other hikes in the area.


        • #19
          I was on Northville Lake Placid trail south of Piseco Sat 3/20/21 and can share that there was a good foot of snow still in the woods. And Piseco is I believe lower than the high peaks. My spikes stayed on the pack and it was showshoeing all the way.

          I also echo the sentiment of going up the Brothers. The view as you go is fantastic.
          Eyes on the Forest, not on the Trees


          • #20
            I would also vote for Brothers, if they are strong hikers. The views along the way keep it interesting, with lots of fun scrambling. My kids (then <10) thought the woods after the Bros looked like "Hobbitland". Do it late summer when blueberries are ripe and you can feast on the opening couple of miles.


            • #21
              If you consider Shingletree Pond, check in advance for any claustrophobia among the group. The Shingletree culvert is the longest and narrowest of the Northway "walking culverts." It's walkable (you can stand upright) but it's a pretty long skinny run to the other end. A person with mild claustrophobia can get somewhat upset walking through there.


              • #22
                Originally posted by TCD View Post
                If you consider Shingletree Pond, check in advance for any claustrophobia among the group. The Shingletree culvert is the longest and narrowest of the Northway "walking culverts." It's walkable (you can stand upright) but it's a pretty long skinny run to the other end. A person with mild claustrophobia can get somewhat upset walking through there.
                lol, and you say you have no desire to publish an updated version of the Northway culvert guidebook.


                • #23
                  Originally posted by DSettahr View Post
                  lol, and you say you have no desire to publish an updated version of the Northway culvert guidebook.
                  Hey DS, if you know something new about that culvert, please let us all know!

                  FYI, the book required hundreds of hours of time, and ended up costing me money (not quite breakeven). So it was fun, and a "labor of love", but if someone wants an update, they had better get to work on it! I have done my part.


                  • #24
                    My apologies- my comment was meant in the spirit of light-hearted fun. I'm aware of the challenges you faced in getting it published, as well as the frustrations with the lack of appreciation for it by the hiking public, and was not attempting to make fun of those circumstances specifically. FWIW, I purchased a copy of it a few years ago and have found it to be super useful.


                    • #25
                      No worries, DS!

                      I know there have been a couple changes in a couple areas, especially around Dirgylot Hill parking, and on the old roads that lead to the Schroon crossing at Wyman and Squaw.

                      I would actually like it if someone picked up the project of making a "2nd Edition." I would be happy to help with research and some writing.

                      But I would only work on it if the ADK decided to do the publishing. For those who might be interested, the field research and the writing are a lot of fun. Self publishing is expensive, and a lot of work.


                      • #26
                        I would also like to pass along my kudos about the culvert guidebook. I'm very glad to have a copy. I believe that the ADK would be interested in the valuable information contained in the book. But I feel it would be more likely they would want to incorporate that information into the existing guidebooks that cover the culvert areas rather than as a separate guide. I am friends with one of the ADK's guidebook editors. I will approach him to gauge the ADK's interest. If an update is possible, I would be glad to assist in any way.


                        • #27
                          Thanks, Dave.

                          As you probably know, I had approached ADK early in the development of this book, and they declined the concept. I think this was because the potential market was too small. And experience bore that out; I printed 200 copies, and I did eventually sell them all in order to almost break even, but it took several years to sell the 200 copies.

                          I would be fine with the idea of this IP becoming part of ADK's guidebook series, and would be happy to negotiate with ADK for the value of the IP.

                          I appreciate any contact you might be able to make that might facilitate a discussion.




                          • #28
                            Will do. Stay tuned. The extremely helpful information would be great additions to the ADK's High Peaks Trails and the ADK's Eastern Trails guidebooks.