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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sawyer Mountain and Echo Cliffs on Panther Mountain(Adirondacks)

Got an early start this bitterly cold March morning and headed north to the Adirondacks to get some hiking in.  Drove out to Amsterdam and then took Route 30 up past the Great Sacandaga Lake to Indian Lake. The gorgeous skyline of Snowy Mountain rises in the distance along Route 30.
Took Route 28 from Indian Lake village to the trail head for Sawyer Mountain.  The air temperature was a couple of degrees below zero as I stepped onto the trail.
A fluffy couple of inches of snow coated the broken in trail.  Despite the cold, it was a beautiful morning with the sounds of occasional bird calls ringing through the woods.
Although predominately a mature maple and beech forest, snow coated the needles of all the pines making for a pretty scene.
Near the summit, a steep open area offers views to the east.
This area of the trail is especially tricky and footing(especially in wet or winter weather) has to be watched carefully.
A short distance further west along the trail after crossing the wooden summit, a rocky outcrop provides fantastic views west over the Cedar River Valley.
Blue Ridge, Wakely Mountain and Metcalf Mountain can be seen rising to the southwest with Sprague Pond visible through the trees in the valley.
To the north and west are some of the peaks near Blue Mountain Lake.
The most prominent feature to the northwest is Blue Mountain.
Stephens Pond is barely visible tucked away in the hills.  The Northville-Placid Trail skirts the pond through this area.  I lingered at this area for about 15 minutes and then headed back for about a 2.2 mile hike RT.
After leaving Sawyer Mountain I drove south to Echo Cliffs on Panther Mountain.  Although a relatively short trail, it is moderately steep and leads to stunning views to the east over Piseco Lake.  It was now late morning, so the sun was really beginning to warm things up to near 20 degrees.  
After a short distance along the trail, views of Piesco Lake begin to emerge through the bare winter woods.
Further along, the rocky walls of Echo Cliffs become visible rising steeply to the north.  This trail leads to the lookout on Echo Cliffs, which is not the true summit of Panther Mountain.
The frozen, rocky slopes of Panther Mountain run parallel to the trail through this section making for a pleasing scene.
The trail gets noticeably steeper as you begin climbing the cliffs and soon enter a red spruce section.
A last push through steep, rocky, red spruce leads to the clifftop.
Once out of the canopy of trees, the views immediately open up to the east from Echo Cliffs.  Pesico Lake sprawls out below the cliffs.
A view of the southern section of Piseco Lake and the Adirondack foothills.  Just below the cliffs here is an extremely sharp dropoff.
Just beyond the Higgins Bay section of Piseco Lake is Spy Lake and the Three Sisters Mountains.  Looking closely below at the lake, you can see ice fishing shanty's.
There are many red spruce all along the summit of the Cliffs.
Climbing back down off the Cliffs is an extremely steep section of trail.
One last broken view of Piseco Lake from a rocky area just below the Cliffs.
The sun was warming up the snow by this point and compacting it, making it stick in my micro spikes on the way back down.  I'm going to have to swap back to snowshoes as the spring commences and the snow continues to melt.
Overall, hiked about 3.8 miles total today.  Not a lot but covered too separate mountains in the beautiful Adirondacks.

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