Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest
Spotting a car
Arab Mountain (often referred to as Mount Arab) is by no means a stranger to the hiking community. As one of the Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge Peaks it’s climbed rather frequently. It was a last minute decision that drew me to choose these two peaks in Piercefield - and the fact that it was close to home made it even that much more appealing. The hardest part about an adventure that has any form of bushwhacking involved is finding a hiking partner for the day, and then planning it for a weekday makes it even harder. On occasion I will venture out as a solo hiker, but typically I prefer the company and the banter of a fellow hiker.
After a social announcement of my plans, I received a message from this lady named Melissa, or Missy as she prefers. She would drive all the way up from the Lake George area to partake in this little adventure. This would be her first bushwhack, but I knew that going into the game; another excellent reason to take it easy today.
We met up at the Piercefield Flow boat launch area - off Route 3 in Piercefield - before we moved on to spot a car off Gull Pond Road. A tiny sliver of state land comes down to Gull Pond Road which would get us off the mountain without having to use state easement lands, the trick was to be able to find it. We parked a car in the vicinity of where it comes down, it would be easier to find from the top as we descended off Station Mountain.
Hiking Arab Mountain
At the trailhead for Arab Mountain we packed up our snacks and water and moved on up the trail. I had been on Arab several times in the past, but low and behold I had never summited the true top of the mountain which lies atop another rise. The trail moved quickly beneath us as we were soon locked into conversation. As we passed over the steeper slopes and the staircases we soon came to the ridgeline that mellowed out the climb. We took in the first view at the bench and made note of the now changing colors of the local foliage, it wasn’t just the red maples anymore it was the beech and birch as well.
After a quick how-do with the fire tower steward, Missy made her way to the cab of the fire tower. I would have joined but Abby, my four-legged hiking partner, wasn’t too fond of the last one she tried to climb. After a brief break at the base of the tower we moved on to the true summit of Arab, just under 0.2 miles away.
Heading over to Station Mountain
The forest was thicker hardwood coverage than I expected but it wasn’t too difficult to maneuver through. We made way to the southern edge of the mountain to remain in the more open terrain. Topping out on the summit we got just what we expected, no views. The top was open and covered in vegetation, but with tall trees and no ledges to award views. We didn’t hang around too long before we made a heading for the ridge. The descent was quick, painless, and rather enjoyable. Small sections of open rock and minor spines of ledges gave us viewing platforms to see the ridge before us.
We passed over the shallow valley and started our climb up the ridge on the shoulder of Station Mountain. My wanderings in open forest did award us a few excellent views, and one especially nice one that displayed the tower from a different perspective. We moved swiftly over the ridge, whose features were very mild, making it hard at time to stay atop of. The ridge is very long and flat with several small rolling hills and a serious dog leg left and then a right, making the traverse one where the GPS was very handy. At about a mile away from the summit, straight line distance of course, we happened up a huge balanced boulder. Just one atop the ridge, not two, not three or a huge grouping, but one, and when I say balanced I mean just that; we were unsure how it remained so for so long.
Missy tried out a bit of back-country bouldering and with the help of a local stripped maple made her way to the top and back down without a hitch. The summit wasn’t far now, and the ever-improving open forest allowed us quick and efficient travel to the top of Station Mountain. The summit didn’t grant us any views but we did browse and managed to find a boulder resting on the shoulder that gave us some slightly obstructed views.
Station Mountain is a local naming of a mountain that was most likely derived from Arab Station, a train station that was once operational at the base of the mountain. Over time I am sure the mountain had become grown up with taller vegetation blocking the potential of stellar views. It was now time to descend back to car number two on Gull Pond Road.
Call it a day of success
We were descending in the direction that looked to have the best potential for views and it wasn’t long before we got an answer. On several occasions we had teases of openings through the trees below and above us, and on a couple instances I did climb back up to only be disappointed in the feature presentation. But eventually we hit pay dirt: An opening through the trees atop a field of thick undergrowth and brambles. It seemed to go on forever, it was actually quite an amazing framing of a view with colorful trees about the sides. We were content. We descended now on a quicker clip of time and fought what appeared to be open forest - but ended up being a couple fields of brambles and ferns, which are actually quite hard to walk through when you can’t see what you are stepping on. The rolling of a branch under my feet and the timber of my large frame cautioned me to slow down a bit. Remaining on state land until the final couple hundred feet or so, where we did cross the easement lands, we stepped out on the dirt road near where we parked.
Even though the ridge wasn’t as plentiful in views as I had hoped, it was a great hike through some seldom visited forest. Plus, the making of a new bushwhacker and friend made it all worth it. For the record I think Missy is hooked on off-trail adventures and she will be joining our small crew on future visits to unknown places.