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Hiking in Adirondack Park
Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest
The fire tower on the summit of 3386 foot Vanderwhacker Mountain provides a spectacular view of the Adirondack High Peaks. There is an elevation gain of 1686 feet on this 2.5 mile hike to the fire tower. Vanderwhacker Mountain is part of the "ADK Fire Tower Challenge".
The trail is marked with red disks and be sure to sign in at the trail register. Within the first mile, you will cross several small creeks and pass around wetlands. Then, the trail splits. The old road (now a snow mobile trail) continues to the left, while the path to the fire tower bears right. After passing two cabins used by the fire observer, you begin a strenuous climb.
The lower part of the trail to Vanderwhacker is broad and ascend fairly slowly up to the abandoned fire observer's cabin. Unlike many such cabins which are situated near the summit, this one is a good stiff climb from the summit and marks the end of the gentle trail. The total ascent from the trailhead is 1686 feet and around 1200 feet of that is done in the 1.3 miles after you reach the cabin. Part way along the steep section you will encounter a section of trail with switchbacks. You may also notice the "resting rock", perfect like a chair (minus the cushions), just when you need it the most.
After 2.5 miles of hiking you reach the fire tower. Climb the tower and enjoy the panorama of the high peaks to the north. The tower is in good shape and offers a 360 degree view. Many of the major High Peaks are visible from both the tower and the opening on the summit. The trick is to come on a clear day.
Directions: From North Creek, take NY 28N WEST for 16 miles. Immediately after the highway crosses the Boreas River, there is an unmarked gravel road on the left. Take this road for 2.6 miles to the point where it splits. The trailhead and parking is on the right.
The turnoff from NY 28N comes just after (or before) you cross the Boreas River and is marked by a DEC sign. The 2.6 mile road into the trailhead is not the best and it does get narrower beyond where it crosses Vanderwhacker Brook at 1.5 miles (where there are plenty of places to park and turn around). After crossing the Brook on a good bridge, if you notice that you are driving on the edge of a stream to your left, you are almost to the trailhead parking.
*CAUTION* This is a rough road in spots. It is best driven with a high-clearance vehicle (like a pickup truck). It is possible to drive this stretch with a typical car as long as you should drive VERY SLOW. You can optionally park off NY 28N at the pull off on the right just before the bridge.
View from Vanderwhacker Mountain (courtesy of Andy Arthur from AndyArthur.org)
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