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Monday, August 25, 2014

Cat & Thomas Mountain(Adirondacks)

With a day free and fantastic weather in front of me, I drove north to the Adirondacks to hike Cat and Thomas Mountains today.  The trails are located in the town of Bolton just west of Lake George.  There are a couple of ways to access the mountains with the most popular route being to combine the two. I hiked them separately today however, and started from the much less popular approach to Cat Mountain from Edgecomb Pond Rd.  I figured there would be more solitude from this location and the views of the pond from this trail are incredible.
Much of the beginning of the trail follows the pond's quiet shorelines.
The wide woods road was bathed in sunlight.
Edgecomb Pond.
A small brook flows peacefully past the trail as you continue along the woods road.
The small unnamed brook flows into Edgecomb Pond a short distance downstream.
The trail eventually crosses the brook after about .75 of a mile.  The water level is usually pretty low so this didn't pose much of a problem.
If accessing Cat Mountain from this direction you must pay careful attention to where you are going.  It can be confusing because there are absolutely no trail signs for almost the entire first mile and there are a couple of reroutes through the trails as well.  Even where there are signs, they don't specify which way the summit is so you must use common sense.  Here is a rerouted section through a hardwood forest.
After roughly two miles of hiking(with the steepest part being the last .4 of a mile) you arrive at a beautiful, rocky clearing with tremendous open views of Lake George.
A very large section of the lake is sprawled out before you, making this a phenomenal spot to soak in the vista.
A small tree provides the only shade on the summit on a hot summer day.
The views of Lake George from Cat are regarded by most as the best views from the west side of the lake.
The rocky summit area is large and open, providing many viewing opportunities.
270 degree views can be found from Cat's summit.
Trout Lake can be seen far below.
Here is a nice view down to Edgecomb Pond, where the hike started.
Although Cat's summit is only 1956 feet in elevation, the views are second to none.  Here is a look at the rocky clearing where the trail comes out.
A beautiful panorama of Lake George from the Tongue Mountain Range all the way to the south basin.
Following the rocky ridgeline provides great views south and west as well.
A panorama of the southern end of Lake George as well as many nearby peaks.

A section of rerouted trail where it leaves the woods road. 
After a great 4.0 mile RT hike up and down Cat Mountain, I grabbed some lunch in the car and headed down the road to the more popular trailhead location on Valley Woods Road.  To the left of the parking lot is a gate where the trail starts and just past this is a kiosk and trail register.  There are also trail maps and pamphlets which provide additional trail info.
The trail is wide and level for a distance before gradually climbing.

There are a couple of trails that climb up to Thomas Mountain's summit.  A new trail, built in 2012, called the Two Brothers Trail is the more scenic, woodsy trail.  This is the one I chose today.
The trail follows and then crosses a small stream, which had a very weak flow today.
A look at the trail crossing the rocky streambed.
After the stream crossing the trail climbs steadily through a mixed hardwood forest, with some steep sections.
After about 1.4 miles the trail comes to a split.  To the right, the trail leads a short distance to westerly views.
You must watch your footing along this section, because the drop off is steep.  The views, however are inspiring.
This made a great spot to rest and grab some water, soaking in the long distance westerly views before you.
The steep ledges along this section of trail.
Looking back towards Thomas Mountain's summit area. 
Many, many peaks in the southern Adirondacks can be seen from this vantage point.
Luckily, the air was clear and not too hazy.
After leaving the west views, the trail continues about .6 of a mile further to a quaint, rustic cabin. 
The cabin sits perched upon a rocky clearing, with amazing views.
Looking west from the cabin area.
Must make an amazing spot to watch the sunrise.
Lake George and Cat Mountain can be easily seen from here.
The cabin is open to the public and available on a first come-first serve basis.
The view out the window from inside the cabin.
A truly special place if you are lucky enough to have this spot to yourself, such as I did today.
I returned via the orange trail, completing a loop.  This trail is a more open route and appears to be some sort of jeep road.  It is less scenic and straight forward and fairly steep, losing almost 600 feet in about .8 of a mile.
The hike to Thomas Mountain as about 3 miles RT, making the total 7.0 miles altogether for the day.  Tough to beat days like this.

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