The hike to the summit of Snowy Mountain in the Adirondack Park is a 7.8 mile round trip with over 2,100 feet of elevation gain to a summit of 3,899 feet. Snowy is one of the mountains that count in the Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge, and is the highest fire tower mountain in the Adirondacks. Hunter and Slide Mountains in the Catskills are higher among fire tower hikes in the challenge.
I did the hike on July 10 of 2021 with an unseasonably cool temperature in the low seventies and partly cloudy skies. There was rain in the days prior to the hike, so I expected some wet trail conditions and Snowy did not disappoint in that regard.
Snowy's trailhead is located on Route 30 between the towns of Speculator and Indian Lake. I was coming from the south, so it was about 17 miles north of Speculator. From what I read, it's about seven miles from the town of Indian Lake, which is to the north.
The parking area for the hike is on the right side (east) of the road as I was traveling north. The trail begins directly across the street from the parking area and resembles a little creek that comes through the trees. That's definitely not the last creek bed you will see on this hike.
When I arrived at around 9:15am on this Saturday morning, there were only about five other cars in the lot and still plenty of spots. It appeared as if you could park to the outside and inside of the lot and be fine (see below).
The trail started right across the street (not further up the road where there was a big sign). Right after you enter the woods, the path goes up and to the right where the sign-in register is located.
I put my details in the book and headed into the woods just as another pair of hikers was parking and getting ready to come onto the trail behind me. It was a little after 9:15 in the morning when I was starting the hike.
I had read about the trail being pretty tame to start and the reports were accurate. After a little climb at start, the trail is lightly rolling with some very easy up and down moments for the first part of the hike.
It's a pretty tight trail, meaning that it's not very wide compared to some others I had been on. The branches were very scratchy, but you won't get torn up like you might on a hike to, say, Iroquois or Santanoni Mountains, which has bristly brush hugging the sides.
At 9:49am, I came to the first of many of the stream crossings, but one of the three big ones. With the rain from the previous day, the water level was up and there was one step right in the middle that seemed a bit sketchy.
A side trail went off to the left, so I wandered up to make sure a crossing was necessary, and did notice a rock cairn pointing across the stream when I returned. The duo who were coming on trail when I started out caught up to me and forded the stream, with one walking right in and the other managing the sketchy step and only barely getting wet. I followed in her steps and was relatively dry still after making the crossing.
There are more little tributary crossings and two more big stream crossings before eventually coming to what looks like a stone staircase (picture and video below). I reached this point at 10:30am and had read that the flat section to this point was around 2.4 miles, so the timing seemed to fit as I typically walk about 3 miles an hour on fairly flat ground.
I took a second to grab half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to energy up before starting the climb since most (about 1,400 feet left) of the 2,100 feet of elevation gain was going to take place from this point forward.
The creek bed was tight and had continuous running water coming down. Nothing too deep, but certainly spots you wanted to avoid stepping into. It made things pretty slick, but thankfully it was a more constant elevation and not a steep grade on these lower portions.
I took some video about twenty minutes into the creek bed, where the canopy was still pretty thick and things were likely to never get too dry.
A little further up, the canopy opens up, so some sun sneaks through, and then the creek bed starts to get a little steeper the closer to the top you get. There are a couple of fun little scrambles in this section and I ended up coming across another solo hiker and we chatted our way up the rest of the mountain.
About five minutes before the plateau and lookout point that signals the end of the steep elevation, the trees open up and allow you a view back to this mountain (see below). Not sure which one it is, but it was nice to be able to see something after spending the first few hours deep in the forest.
Five minutes and a few muddy scrambles later, we reached the lookout point and found the couple who had passed me earlier stopped and having a snack. We walked to the northern edge and took some video of the views.
The trail continues up for another five minutes until you come across the fire tower in the middle of a very wooded section. From ground level there aren't any views, but my new hiking partner, Eve, climbed up and grabbed some excellent panoramic video of the surrounding area. It was pretty similar to what we saw at the lookout, so I wasn't too sad that my vertigo kept me from the climb.
We were up there for about ten minutes and grabbed a quick snack before starting what was going to be a slightly tricky descent with all the water and mud.
Having done a bunch of mountains in the last four years, and discovering that Eve was very experienced in the Catskill region, we made pretty quick work of the creek bed section, navigating it in around 50 minutes.
The flat section only took us another hour as the conversation helped pass the time and we made it back to the sign-in book at around 1:50pm.
The total time on trail was a touch over four and a half hours with only about 10 minutes resting at the summit. All in all, a pretty good hike with some peaceful forest hiking and some tricky wet stone work.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.