Twin Mountain

2 days in the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest


Day one in the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest

First a little background on Twin Mountain: Twin Mountain doesn’t really have a name. However, it was given this name by the locals (I can only assume). I found this suitably named peak in the Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest and it showed a proposed trail to one of its summits, so I guessed it must have a decent view. That’s how it came about that I wanted to explore this little guy.

Parking area on Route 421

Next, I should be more honest, I didn’t really spend two days in the forest but it did take me two days to get to Twin Mountain. A couple days ago my son, Kole, asked if he could use my car to drive to Plattsburgh; his wasn’t running so well. Of course I said sure, but I warned him I would be using his around the area to go over and hike Twin Mountain near Horseshoe Lake. Off I went on the short drive over to Route 421 that runs right through the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest. Arriving at the proposed trailhead in the UMP it was sufficiently marked with “NO PARKING.” This parking must be a snowplow turn-around or something, so I nudged the car off the road as far as I could. I got out, turned on the GPS, got out the map of the proposed trail, tossed on my pack, and went to put on my snowshoes. My snowshoes were not there. The site of my jaw hitting the ground must have been something when I realized they were still in the back of the car I loaned my son. In the winter, I rarely take out my snowshoes; I even have an extra pair in the house – I just got so comfortable with them always being in the car, my mind didn’t even decipher the fact that I wasn’t using the same car. I had just driven over 30-minutes to get here, in a car with wheel-bearings that sounded less than pleased, and I couldn’t even snowshoe. I drove home and pursued my dream of doing household chores for the rest of the day.

Abby along the carriage road sporting here new pack

Proposed trail up Twin Mountain

Now, my second day was much more rewarding. Not only were the skies a deep blue, but I had my car back under me and my snowshoes in the back - trust me, I made sure! In fact, I double-checked my entire gear list for the day, to be sure I didn’t forget to put on my socks. Again I drove the 30-minutes or so to the trailhead and this time I could make tracks. The night had been clear and quite cold, so it set up the snow perfectly for me to walk right on top of.

Looking over the map of the proposed trail, I was quite surprised to find the trail was to go to a lower bump along the ridge and not to the top of Twin Mountain, but I was game, and in fact I planned to check all three summits out along the ridge.

Behind the parking area laid a well-developed old carriage road whose course led me through the open beauty of the new growth deciduous forest. All the stems were under twenty years old, and many were only around ten. Yellow birch, striped maples and an occasional white pine covered the landscape, but the beech saplings often made their mark by slapping my cheeks to make me aware of their presence.

Otter trail and tracks

Eventually the carriage road became much fainter and turned into more of a foot path, but even that was so faint, I wasn’t sure I was even on it at times. Any sign of man, other than logging, was gone, and even that wasn’t apparent if you didn’t know what you were looking for. I now had to rely on the GPS to get me there. The planned trail to the small summit was not developed yet and the top of the bump could not be seen, not even though the open forest. Quickly I came upon an otter trail, run... slide, run... slide, that’s what it looked like. I only hoped I could see him, or her. I didn’t see anything even after the added effort to snowshoe over to the beaver pond it apparently lived in. I hung out for a bit, but grew impatient; I guess that’s one reason I wouldn’t make a good hunter.

Beaver marsh, home to Ollie the Otter

The climb was minor and I stood atop the small bump, totally immersed in the trees. There was no view from here and I didn’t poke around to see if one existed below. I made an almost immediate heading toward Twin Mountain’s lower summit. I had to descend a bit to a small brook and make an agile hop to the opposite side before I started what was going to be a rather steep ascent.

Twin Mountain's Summits

The snow was still pretty solid under me, but occasionally with the temperatures warming up I would break through. As I climbed, the snow on the north side became even more unconsolidated and I broke through much more often, at times well over my knees. Abby was having a bear of a time, but she powered through with her tail wagging, oh, and with her new backpack on too. Her backpack held her snacks, kind of like a horse and carrot technique.

Tupper Lake through the trees

After a steep ascent we finally stood atop the smaller northern summit of the mountain, with a decent view out over Tupper Lake. The southern and higher summit was only 0.2 miles away, and it wasn’t long before we were there standing atop a rocky knob with a decent view of Goodman Mountain and the High Peaks beyond. If there were only a couple less trees, this would be a stellar small summit.

Now for the descent, it was fairly straight forward, but on the way in I spied what looked to be a ledge on the western side of the mountain, so I had to go for it. It was easy to find, but not as big as I thought it would be. I dropped to a lower shelf and there it was - an unobstructed view of Mount Arab.

High Peak viewMount Arab from the cliffs

Continuing down the grade to get off this thing was super steep, but the snow was deep enough to pad any drop. And, with a slight crust on this side of the mountain, I could butt-slide when needed. We literally slid off the mountain, it was that fast, and before I knew it, we were in the valley and on flat ground, where the snow firmed up once again and we could walk freely amongst the trees.