After having simply been too busy for any hiking in the two months since our return from our 2008 Utah
trip back in March, we decided we wanted to go with a nice simple short hike. The problem was, I'd already done virtually all of the good "simple short hikes" in the central and northern Adirondacks. So, I cast my mental net a little wider, and remembered that many a time, I'd seen but totally dismissed a fairly high peak in the Northern Adirondacks: Lyon Mountain.
Lyon Mountain is the furthest north of the "big" peaks of the Adirondacks. It doesn't quite reach 4,000 feet, but it's close: 3,820 feet. In fact, Lyon mountain is higher than Couchsachraga -- one of the famed Adirondack 46. It also stands quite high in prominence relative to the relatively gentle hills of the Northern Adirondacks. Adding to all of this was the fact that it is closer to my home town than the rest of the Adirondacks, affording a shorter drive, and the fact that I'd never climbed it. Novelty has it's own allure!
The trailhead to Lyon Mountain is at the end of a short gravel road that leaves the paved Chazy Lake Road, which is itself reached via state highway 374 in northern New York state. The turnoff onto Chazy Lake Road is about 4 miles east of the town of Lyon Mountain. See my interactive map for a concise view of where the trailhead is located. Note that neither the gravel approach road nor the trail itself are signed.
It was a perfect late spring day: pleasantly warm and beautifully clear. The only downside is that we were in black fly season, and it took only a few minutes outside the car before the deet came out. It was then time to head off on the very obvious wide trail.
The trail started off on a gentle grade and relatively smoothly. It looked as if this was some sort of road at one time. As we ascended, the trail became a little steeper and rockier, with smallish rocks scattered everywhere, making the hiking a little less pleasant than it could have been.
There are a few spots where the trail appears to split in two. It does not appear to matter which fork you take, since they all eventually rejoin, so if you are doing this hike yourself, simply pick whichever fork suits your fancy. The trail continued to gradually get steeper and rockier, but maintained it's wide width.
We made rapid progress, and took our first break at around 3,000 feet, not far from the foundational remnants of some sort of cabin. Perhaps this was a firewarden's cabin at one time?
Not far above this point, the trail suddenly increases in grade, and we ascended very steeply straight up the slope. The going is fairly rough here, but you gain good elevation quickly. Looking back east gives some limited but nice views down to Chazy Lake, which at this point is quite far below.
Once past this section, the trail entered continuously coniferous forest and became much less steep as it neared the broad, rounded summit of Lyon Mountain. Soon, the sturdy looking firetower came into view, and within minutes we were standing in a reasonably open area of bare rock. To the east, a nice open summit ledge beckoned.
From the highest point of the open rocks, I looked west and thought that maybe, just maybe, a broad area of forested land might just be a tad higher than where we were standing. Not being one to want to miss a true high point, I decided to bushwhack over to it just to make sure I'd tagged the high point of Lyon Mountain. Taking an altitude reading at our current high point, I entered the bush and made my way west. Bob and Jenn wisely decided to stay on a nice sunny ledge and chat.
About fifteen minutes of somewhat tedious bushwhacking brought me to a nondescript patch of forest with no indications of any summit marker. A glance at my altimeter revealed a reading which was essentially the same as the open highpoint. So, inconclusive - but I've visited both spots, so I've got all of the bases covered! I bushwhacked back via a less brushy route and rejoined Bob and Jenn.