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Old 02-09-2014, 11:28 PM   #1
cproctor707
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Question Good Winter Hiking close to Utica

Hi everybody,

I'm looking for a solid day hike within a 30-40 minute drive of Utica. Something fairly challenging with good views (total distance ideally between 5 and 10 miles). All suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thank you!
Justin
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Old 02-10-2014, 10:33 AM   #2
bridgeman
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Not a lot of big view options at that distance.
Woodhull Mountain has a long flat approach with nice views and a firetower.
Pick a highpoint on the west side of Piseco Lake and navigate to it.
If you wanted to go a little further out, your options increase. Old Forge - Blue Mountain area has lots of options.
Snowy Mountain will give you as good a challenge as any south of the high peaks with excellent views and another fire tower.
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:47 PM   #3
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I'll second the not a lot of options for hikes with both views and mileage that close to Utica. You can always combine a low-elevation mountain with a hike – Kane Moutain with Stewart & Indian Lakes or Bald Mountain with Sis/Bubb/Moss Lakes come to mind. But it may not give you the challenge you seek.

Snowy Mountain. How much do I love thee? I live north of Utica, so if I drive fast enough I can get there in just about an hour. 7 mile round trip to the top of the 3898 foot mountain. First bit of the hike is an easy and pleasant stroll through the woods and then the last part is a nice climb – straight up. I’ve never ascended the same way twice. In the Spring/Summer/Fall there is mud and water and slabs of rock to climb and/or cross. It is a good time. Most likely will be icy underneath the snow this time of year.

The top has excellent views and the fire tower is tucked back into the woods. I won’t share on a public forum my secret spot for enjoying peace, solitude and some backcountry beauty that would make you weep with joy - I’ll let you poke around and discover that for yourself.
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:47 PM   #4
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The Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness is pretty close to Utica, and has some beautiful destinations, such as Middle Branch and Middle Settlement Lakes. Mostly flat hiking with no summits, but the lakes are well worth visiting on their own. However, the area can get a decent amount of traffic, especially considering it is the closest Wilderness Area to the Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo metropolitan areas.

Further north, there is Rondaxe Mountain with has spectacular views of the Fulton Chain of lakes, but it's a fairly short hike and even if you're not in the best of shape, it'd be difficult to get a full day out of it.

Woodhull Mountain is kind of lackluster, in my opinion. It's a long, flat hike in to the mountain, with 5 miles on an old railroad grade before you even begin climbing (although it could make for a nice ski), and the views from the summit aren't that great. There are some other nearby areas that are worth visiting, though- Remsen Falls (really just an impressive set of rapids but cool nonetheless) on the Moose River, Woodhull Lake, and Bear Pond.
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Old 02-10-2014, 02:31 PM   #5
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Further north, there is Rondaxe Mountain with has spectacular views of the Fulton Chain of lakes, but it's a fairly short hike and even if you're not in the best of shape, it'd be difficult to get a full day out of it.
Black Bear Mtn would be more challenging and offers great views.

http://www.cnyhiking.com/BlackBearMountain.htm

It really is skiable most of the way even from the south until you get to the last 300' of vertical. There you may want/need crampons. It is very steep and I can attest that it is all ice covered by a fluff of snow. I didn't bring crampons and wound up turning back - there is a less steep detour one can claw up but my better half wasn't having that route. Next time I'd opt for the northern approach but if you want some challenge, go up the south and come down the north.

Other thoughts in that area would be the vista trail, which would probably require crampons this time of year as well. What the mountains in this area lack in stature they make up for in steepness in some sections - they are mostly just cliffs anywhere you might get a view - some are ridges with a less steep approach.

The old route up bald mountain used to be very steep and had a cable at one time. The new route is very easy though.

Last edited by l'oiseau; 02-10-2014 at 05:51 PM..
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:03 PM   #6
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The Vista trail running along the Fulton chain is also an option:

http://www.cnyhiking.com/VistaTrail.htm
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:19 PM   #7
l'oiseau
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Other thoughts in that area would be the vista trail,
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The Vista trail running along the Fulton chain is also an option:
Must be an echo in here... in here... in here

Might not be the quietest hike though... there are snowmobiles tearing up and down Rt 28 directly below that route.

I could hear them almost everywhere I was in that area though... doesn't seem to matter how far back you go, they are still audible.

Last edited by l'oiseau; 02-10-2014 at 05:33 PM..
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:50 PM   #8
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No one mentioned east but there is Spectacle Lake and Good Luck Lake cliffs about an hour from Utica.

http://www.cnyhiking.com/GoodLuckMountainCliffs.htm
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:54 PM   #9
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or Bald Mountain with Sis/Bubb/Moss Lakes come to mind. But it may not give you the challenge you seek.
Gah. I meant Black Bear Mountain combined with Sis/Bubb/Moss Lakes. Climb the mountain, get back in the car and drive 10 minutes down the road to snowshoe/xcountry ski around the lakes. Parking is a little tricky in the winter – they don’t typically plow the parking area.

Or, you could do Black Bear Mtn and then Rocky Mountain – same parking area – different trailheads.

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Black Bear Mtn would be more challenging and offers great views.

It really is skiable most of the way even from the south until you get to the last 300' of vertical. There you may want/need crampons. It is very steep and I can attest that it is all ice covered by a fluff of snow. I didn't bring crampons and wound up turning back - .
Yes, it is steep and slippery at that vertical part – I wouldn’t recommend descending that area w/out traction. It would be terrible to slip and fall off any part of that section. Not that I would know… (photo is from that part of the trail)

When I hiked this last November, I took a left at the Y – nice meandering trail that ends up going through some beautiful woods prior to coming out on the summit and then came down the steep part. Personally, I would not choose that route again.

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No one mentioned east but there is Spectacle Lake and Good Luck Lake cliffs about an hour from Utica.

http://www.cnyhiking.com/GoodLuckMountainCliffs.htm
Thumbs up on Good Luck Mountain – although I have yet to try that in the winter, I would imagine it would be a great hike.
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Old 02-10-2014, 07:07 PM   #10
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When I hiked this last November, I took a left at the Y – nice meandering trail that ends up going through some beautiful woods prior to coming out on the summit and then came down the steep part. Personally, I would not choose that route again.
.
Right now all those nice blocky holds on that first steep scramble are filled in and it looks more like a vertical wall of ice. Like I say, there is some snow holding on there but not enough to get any traction with snowshoes.

I hadn't been up that trail in over 10 years and I actually got lost at that part. I didn't think the trail went up that ice cliff!! So I scouted around and managed to figure out that IS the trail and was able to go about 30' to the right of that and found a switchback that intersected the trail again that wasn't solid ice. My wife wouldn't go up it and it was steep enough I had to butt slide back down LOL.

Yeah I wish I would have thought that out and either brought the right gear or went the other way. I had no recollection of any difficult sections from my previous ascent of this mountain in the summer months. Winter can be a different beast!

Last edited by l'oiseau; 02-10-2014 at 07:20 PM..
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Old 02-11-2014, 12:39 AM   #11
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Gah. I meant Black Bear Mountain combined with Sis/Bubb/Moss Lakes. Climb the mountain, get back in the car and drive 10 minutes down the road to snowshoe/xcountry ski around the lakes. Parking is a little tricky in the winter – they don’t typically plow the parking area.

Or, you could do Black Bear Mtn and then Rocky Mountain – same parking area – different trailheads.



Yes, it is steep and slippery at that vertical part – I wouldn’t recommend descending that area w/out traction. It would be terrible to slip and fall off any part of that section. Not that I would know… (photo is from that part of the trail)

When I hiked this last November, I took a left at the Y – nice meandering trail that ends up going through some beautiful woods prior to coming out on the summit and then came down the steep part. Personally, I would not choose that route again.


Thumbs up on Good Luck Mountain – although I have yet to try that in the winter, I would imagine it would be a great hike.
I hiked Good Luck Mt last winter with some friends and planned on camping . Lugged 45 lb packs up it was tough even with snow shoes. It's barley used so go with someone who's been there so you don't get lost. Lol nice view though. I'd post pics but I can't from my cell .
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:10 AM   #12
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I hiked Good Luck Mt last winter with some friends and planned on camping . Lugged 45 lb packs up it was tough even with snow shoes. It's barley used so go with someone who's been there so you don't get lost. Lol nice view though. I'd post pics but I can't from my cell .
I may have temporarily misplaced myself and my youngest just below the summit when we hiked this last year. Your cautionary advice for hiking it in winter is duly noted.

As l’oiseau said and as I have come to discover in these last few months:

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Winter can be a different beast!
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