Partway up this ridgey section, we came to the first lookout (well, really, it's the only lookout) along the way to the top of Hopkins. A beautiful open slab of bedrock that has a view across to the other side of the small valley formed by the upper part of Mossy Cascade Brook. Today, that side of the valley was covered in brilliant fall foliage, and a warm October sun was shining at just the right angle to warm the bedrock. To the west, there was a limited but nice view over towards Colvin, Dial and Nippletop.
We stopped for a sun-warming snack break, then continued on up the trail.
Beyond the lookout, the trail resumed with more very nice 'ridgecrest and ridgestep' hiking. We were becoming very impressed with the qualities of this trail - easy, uneroded footing throughout, a variety of very pretty forest scenery, including a beautiful little brook, and very little traffic.
More open ridgecrest forest
We soon arrived at the junction with the Ranney Trail -- an alternate approach to this point, which starts at a point closer to Keene Valley. We knew from our map (and GPS) that this meant we were getting quite close to the summit of Hopkins.
From above the junction with the Ranney trail, the quality of the Mossy Cascade Trail was reduced down to that of what I would call a 'typical' Adirondack trail - that is to say rougher, wetter, and through a more mundane regime of brushy vegetation. Don't get me wrong, it is still a pretty forest walk, but not nearly as nice as the path had been before the junction.
It was only about a twenty-five minute walk from the junction to the height of land in a small notch between Hopkins Mountain's summit and a shoulder of Green Mountain. Here in this notch was a trail junction: to the right, a trail led south-eastwards up over the shoulder towards Green and Giant Mountains. To the left, a trail led up steeply towards Hopkins' summit, now only a few hundred yards away.
Junction with Hopkins Side Tr
We headed up the steep trail towards Hopkins. The steep part was very short, and soon the gradient flattened out and we hiked through a very pretty bit of moss-covered ground with a nicely-defined bedrock strip of trail in the middle. This very soon gave way to the beginning of the spectacular open slabs leading to the summit of Hopkins.
Hopkins' summit area was exceedingly beautiful. Immediately you are presented with a dramatic sloping curve of bedrock, beyond which is a grand panorama of Keene Valley, the Ausable River Valley, and many of the Adirondack High Peaks. The view is made a bit more impressive, I believe, by the fact that you have a direct head-on view up the Ausable River Valley, with a very pointy-lookin Mount Colvin and jagged-edged Sawteeth flanking it on either side. These fantastic views, combined with the kaleidoscope of falls colors, made for one of the nicest Adirondack views I'd seen in a while. A solid ten out of ten!
There were a few other groups lounging around in the beautiful October sun as we walked up to the highest point of walked and did a perfunctory summit handshake. We then found a little bit of ledgy bedrock of our own in order to settle down and enjoy this great spot.