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Friday, November 14, 2014

Rooster Comb and Owl's Head(High Peaks)

Woke up to a light coating of snow today, the first of the season locally.  It didn't stick to the roads which made for a nice, pretty drive to the Adirondacks.
My plan was to hike Noonmark Mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness today, but got a bit of a late start so decided to hike up the shorter Rooster Comb trail.  A large, popular trailhead located off Route 73 provides access to 2762 foot Rooster Comb.  The trail starts by crossing a long boardwalk through a swampy area.
The trail is cushioned by fallen pine needles as it skirts more wetland as well as private property.
 The trail follows along the edge of a small, frozen pond that is part of a school's nature trail.
 A very light coating of snow as I Climb up through the woods.
The forest canopy opens up in a large section of hardwoods with screened views in the distance.
 This tree was really wrapped up in this boulder.
 A small stream crossing.
 After about 2 miles, a trail junction is met where you have the option to go left to the summit or right to Valley View Ledge.

 I first turned right to the lookout with views stretching north and west over the Keene Valley.
 Keene Valley surrounded by nearby peaks.
 Incredible views abound from Valley View Ledge.
 The summit of Rooster Comb, a short .3 miles away.
 Big Slide Mountain and The Brothers just to the west.
A fleeting hint of blue skies.
 The sun trying to break out amongst evergreens.
 A well placed ladder lies down on a hill and climbs up through a steep section.
 A broken view towards Giant Mountain and its slides near the summit.
 Rooster Comb's summit is wooded but a very close area is open and rocky with rewarding views.  Unfortunately snow showers began moving through as I reached the clearing near the summit.
Looking back up to the summit of Rooster Comb.
 Snow showers moving in over Big Slide Mountain.
 A panorama to to the east with Giant Mountain being the most prominent feature. 
 A panorama to the south with Hedgehog Mountain dominating the view.  The Great Range can be seen just over Hedgehog's shoulder.
 Good footing is essential due to nearly 300 foot cliffs.
 A great view towards Giant.
After lingering at the summit for a few minutes, I headed back down the mountain and instead of returning via the same route I came up, I took a loop trail towards Snow Mountain.
 A short distance in, I was startled by a buck who was standing in the middle of the trail.
 I quietly stood about 20 yards away and seemed to go unnoticed.
 I finally got his attention, but he didn't wander very off.
 After continuing towards Snow Mountain, I saw signs of hunters in the woods, so I turned back and hiked back the 2 miles to the car.  A typical hardwoods scene on the return.
 Hiked about 5.5 miles RT when I got back to the car.  Enjoyed my lunch and then drove a bit further up Route 73 to Owl's Head.  Owl's Head is a very popular, small hike that crosses private land to fantastic views.  The trail is located about .2 miles down gravel Owl's Head Lane  at a T in the road.  There are no trail markings but the trail is obvious.
 A rocky ledge provided interesting views west up Route 73 with sun and snow squalls sharing the skies.
 The sun came out lighting up the last the .6 mile of the trail.
 There is a large, open area with many rocky ledges and views near Owl's Heads summit.
 The steep, rocky cliffs of the summit loom over the valley.
 Looking back down at the rocky ledges of the 2120 foot summit.
 Amazing views with Laramore Mountain and the Cascade Range to the left of Route 73 and Pitchoff Mountain's cliffs to the right.
  Views back towards Hurricane and Giant Mountains with Route 73 snaking through.
Very heavy snow squalls moved in on my way back down the mountain, making a very enjoyable walk.  A great day out in the High Peaks with a total RT distance of about 6.7 miles.

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