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Monday, September 26, 2022

Hackensack Mountain Hike - Lake George Area

If you find yourself in the lower Adirondacks, the Lake George area to be precise, you are almost always guaranteed to be in a crowd. This popular summer tourist spot keeps bustling through the fall season as leaf peepers and balloon festival-goers flock to the village. Things slow down for a bit in November, kick back into gear for holiday festivities in December, and turn into ice festivals/winter carnivals on the lake in February. All this to say it's a busy area with lots to do, see, and eat. If you are in the area for one of the area's famous events, it's nice to sneak away from the crowds and enjoy one of the best things ADK has to offer, a beautiful hike with a bit of a workout. 
Hackensack Mountain Hike
Hackensack Mountain Hike - trail intersection 

We were staying at Lake George Riverview Campground for the weekend, enjoying the beauty of the area with family and the balloon festival activities with friends. Sunday morning we were ready for a change of scenery, some solitude, and a bit of a sweat and quickly found a top-rated hike less than 2 miles from where we were staying.

We packed up the car with the toddler and the dogs and headed down the road for the quick drive to the empty trailhead. After a weekend of walking around the crowded village and the even busier balloon festival, it was nice to be between the trees during a quiet morning. We were the only ones at the trailhead as we loaded Whitney into his pack and headed out on the trails.

Hackensack Mountain Hike
Hackensack Mountain Hike Prospect Street Trailhead
(Starts to the right of the bench between two rocks)

The Hackensack Mountain Park is a gem of quiet in a relatively busy area. If you look at the map, the trailhead is off of a little residential area right off Main Street, behind the local grocery store in the town of Warrensburg. You quickly leave it all behind as you follow the trails in the park.

There are a few different trailheads and a number of trails that weave their way through the park. We planned to follow the 2.7-mile loop hike drawn out on AllTrails. It's not always straightforward as different marked and unmarked trails make their way along the route. This is the kind of hike you want to keep a map open and handy (I use AllTrails and Strava) to keep referencing as your make your way. It's very easy to miss a turn or get confused at an intersection in spots where the trail gets thin and trail markers are few and far between.

Hackensack Mountain Hike
Hackensack Mountain Hike - View from the Summit

We parked at the Prospect Street trailhead and accidentally started on the steeper trail to the left of the trail signage and returned on the easier trail to the right of the trailhead between the two stones. It isn't exactly clear but both trails are about the same distance and take you to the same intersection. From there, we followed the orange/red trail out to the four-way intersection diving the pond trail from the summit trail. From here, we followed the purple trail which takes you on a loop in a counterclockwise direction, taking the long way up the mountain and breaking up the elevation a bit. A copy of the map from the Warren County website shows all of the trails in the park and is helpful to have it open on your phone (although they didn't include the colored trail designations). The purple trail then connects back with the orange/red trail which either goes down the mountain to the Hackensack Ave parking area or continues left up the mountain to the summit.

Hackensack Mountain Hike
Hackensack Mountain Hike - Technical Section

It's mostly a gradual climb to the summit with a steep push the last 1/3 of a mile. We saw two other people on the trail the entire morning and enjoyed the sweeping summit views to ourselves. To complete the loop, we continued on the red/orange trail which takes you on a steep descent off the mountain. The trail was consistently steep and challenges you to navigate across boulders, slick terrain, and pine needle-covered pitches. For these reasons, I don't recommend this hike for younger or inexperienced kids. We took our time picking our route down the trail and we're thankful for the conveniently places rope in a particularly tricky section. Our very experienced dogs navigated the descent without a problem but I can see how the rocks could be tricky for some.

Hackensack Mountain Hike
Dogs heading down the trail from the summit

Trail Stats

Difficulty: Moderate - short distances but some steep terrain with rocky sections 
Distance: 1.5mi out and back to summit from Hackensack Ave
 2.4 mi summit loop from Prospect St; 4.4mi total trail miles
Trailheads: Prospect Street or Hackensack Avenue (decent parking areas) in Warrensburg
Trail Map: Use AllTrails or Strava and I suggest keeping the apps open for reference as you hike. Here is a link to the trail map with all the marked trails 
Kids: Older kids only - steep and rocky terrain which would be difficult for smaller kids. 
Dogs: Yes, on leash 
Trail is open to: hiking, mountain biking, birding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
Highlights/Lowlights: Gorgeous view from the summit and a relatively quiet trail. We did this as a loop hike counter clockwise from Prospect Street. Step rocky sections will get your heart pumping and make you watch your footwork. 

Hackensack Mountain Hike
Hackensack Mountain Hike - Trail Map

All in all, a gorgeous hike with plenty of solitude that challenged us more than we thought wood. The designation of moderate was generous (and likely due to the shorter distance) but I can see how this trail is challenging for some. The views are the top were worth the climb and this summit view must be some kind of special as the leaves fully turn in early October. Dog friendly (on leash) and a nice family outing for older kids or anyone who is willing to navigate trickier terrain and work up a sweat. Add this to your itinerary if you find yourself in the Lake George area.

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