For summit views without the usual summit effort, head to Sawyer Mountain in the Adirondacks. The trail to the top of the mountain gains 650 feet over a 2.5-mile round trip hike. While the trail travels through a sheltered hardwood forest the entire way, there are two overlooks around the summit that provide far-reaching views over the trees across the surrounding valleys, ridges, and summits. Sawyer Mountain tops out at 2,600 feet and the peak can be bagged with one hour of enjoyable effort.
Start from a trailhead on the south side of Route 28 between the towns of Blue Mountain Lake and Indian Lake in Hamilton County. Sign in at the trail register and begin up the shaded single-track trail maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. There are yellow markers posted to trees along the trail to keep you on course.
After a gradual opening leg, the trail ramps up and begins a moderate climb. There are a few short steep segments over fun rock obstacles, so shoes with good traction are a real asset. Overall, the trail maintains a not-too-aggressive climb.
Less than a quarter mile from the start, the trail passes through one area that has the potential to be muddy and confusing. Stay to the right, following the defined trail up Sawyer Mountain. A mixed forest of maple, fir, beech, and birch trees shade the hike, while the ground is covered in moss, ferns and even the occasional toad.
The uphill, undulating climb over dirt, rock, and roots eventually reaches a long slope of exposed bedrock, about a mile from the start. Continue up the rock and to the right, following the trail for another hundred yards to the hike’s first viewpoint. Take a brief detour over the path breaking off to the left to a ledge at the top of the rock slope. From here you gain a fine view over the rolling forest to the southeast.
From the first viewpoint, it is another tenth of a mile to the top of the round summit. Passing the high point, the trail turns downhill for the first time. In another hundred yards (or about the time you realize you’ve crossed the summit), the trail comes to an end at the second, more impressive viewpoint. The overlook sits atop a giant rock staircase that creates a tree-less window looking out from Sawyer Mountain. The panoramic view peers west over the Cedar River Valley, framed by Wakely Mountain to the south and Blue Mountain to the north.
The trail ends at the second lookout, so return the way you came. Allot one hour to hike Sawyer Mountain Trail and enjoy all the views. This hike can easily be combined with the nearby trail to Rock Lake. No fee or permit is required to hike this trail and dogs are welcome, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: From Blue Mountain Lake at the intersection of routes 28, 28N and 30, drive east toward Indian Lake on Route 28/30 for 6.8 miles to the trailhead on the south side of the road. The trailhead is 4.4 miles west of the town of Indian Lake.
Trailhead address: Route 28, Indian Lake, NY 12842
Trailhead coordinates: 43.810842, -74.321284 (43° 48′ 39.03″N 74° 19′ 16.62″W)
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