This hike documents a return to the perennially favourite Catamount Mountain - one of the Adirondack's best short hikes. We were hiking with friends Andy and Andrea, who had recently bought new hiking boots and wanted to try them out on something not too long. Catamount's very short distance (less than 6km / 3.5 miles) combined with fun scrambly terrain and a multitude of lookouts was a perfect choice.
We arrived at the start of the Catamount Mountain trailhead at a leisurely 9:30 a.m., on a cool and trending-towards-clear November morning. True winter conditions had not yet arrived to the middle elevations of the Adirondacks: only the faintest dusting of white could be seen on higher terrain. It didn't seem like there was going to be any slippery footing, but nevertheless, I packed a set of traction aids just in case.
The half-mile flat stretch along the trail to the base of Catamount's southern slopes warmed us up, and by the time we arrived at the open forest at the beginning of uphill walking, we were ready for a delayering break. The few morning clouds that had been present on our drive in were breaking up, and the leafless forest was awash in bright sunshine.
A fresh breeze kept us from sweating too heavily as we climbed up the lower slopes of Catamount. Soon we entered the coniferous tree zone, and not long after that, we reached the first open lookout area just below Catamount's semi-bare sub-summit, where we stopped for a quick snack break. Andy and Andrea's new boots were working well for them - no chafing or soreness.
Only minutes beyond the first clearing, we came to one of Catamount Mountain's most distinctive bits - the so-called "chimney" (well, that's my name for it). It is literally that - a chimney formed out of the softer rock of an intrusive dike in the bedrock. It offers a straightforward, protected scramble up a section of the sub-summit's steep slopes.
Beyond the chimney, the trail continued to climb steeply up over bedrock steps and slabs, very mildly exposed in places, but overall quite straightforward. Soon we were atop the outstanding smooth bare bedrock of the sub-summit, with an excellent 270-degree panoramic view. This point is a worthwhile objective on its own.
From the sub-summit, there was a clear view to the main summit, close by to the north and sporting many clear patches of ledgy bedrock. We continued on, passing through an area of bedrock ridges (where the trail winds around, up and down in a slightly non-obvious manner) before starting up the final climb to the summit.
The final climb to the summit was mostly on steep, clean bedrock slabs, occasionally with a short ledge over which one must scramble, and interspersed with short bands of forest. Each of these open slab areas provided ever-widening views as we ascended.
We stopped just short of the summit to have our lunch. We were in the lee of the wind here, and combined with the almost continuous sunshine, was a warmer and comfier spot to stop and eat than on the summit itself.