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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Buckhorn Cliffs(Adirondacks)

While the High Peaks and other taller mountains are often swarming with hikers, it is the lesser known, off the beaten path peaks that many times offer a true unspoiled sense of beauty.  My buddy Jim Hopson and I decided that today we'd explore the open rock face of 2620 foot Southeast Buckhorn Peak in a little visited area of Hamilton County along the Route 8 corridor. We got started by parking at the Griffin trailhead along the East Branch of the Sacandaga River at about 8 am.  From there we began our bushwhack heading northeast into the woods on a cool 45 degree late summer morning.
 We stayed on a northeast course until hitting a fisherman path along Extract Brook, which we followed north for about a mile.
 Stone chocked Extract Brook.
After crossing the brook, the real ascent began, climbing through mostly hardwoods on our way generally northeast.
 Just below the summit, we found the enormous open southeast facing rock slab.
The angle of the open rock was a bit intimidating, but footing was pretty good, so we got a grip and climbed up.
 The slides extended nearly 200 yards but offered up incredible views of the southern Adirondacks.
We were very careful with our footing because the incline was quite precarious.
 Looking north with fall colors making an entrance.
A great look in the distance towards Crane Mountain(L) and Mount Blue(R).
 Georgia Mountain's summit bumps dwarf a nearby camp, far below.
 The sheer size of the surroundings can be seen and felt a bit more with Jim posing in this pic.

After enjoying the views and nice, refreshing breeze, we continued up the short remaining distance to the true summit, marked with a small rock pile.
 Jim had thought he saw a small but open rock slide on the west side of the peak as well, so we bushwhacked our way over there.  Unfortunately we could only find a small view point, with a nice look at an exposed rock area on nearby Macomber Mountain.
Looking over the maps, we decided to continue on down to Buckhorn Ponds, a little under a half mile north of us.  We had no way of knowing that we'd be descending down through thick brush, making that half mile seem much longer.  The reward was nice though, as we found a small rocky shore to stop and enjoy lunch.
 Buckhorn Pond on a beautiful September day.
After lunch, we turned back, finding an easier way on the return ascent back up and over the summit.  Here I am passing through some tall ferns.
 Once back to Extract Brook, we found the fisherman path on the west side of the brook and followed it south all the way to its end, which just happened to be a homeowner's backyard.  He graciously allowed us to cross his property to the town road, which we followed back to the car.
We got back at about 3:30pm after about 8.2 miles and 1650 feet elevation gain.


  1. Replies
    1. This way made much more sense than Barbara McMartin's suggested route from County Line Brook in the old Discover Series. We really enjoyed this hike. Been looking at Hayes Mountain open cliffs in the Hoffman Notch area next I think. Ever been there?

  2. I climbed nearby Cobble Hill in winter. I remember coming back down to Bailey Pond and seeing the cliffs on Hayes. It's on my list though.

  3. your the first person I've heard even mention these cliffs other than Barb McMartin. I fished Buckhorn three times following the outlet up and bushwhacked over to the cliffs from the pond. Caught a lot of 12 to 14 inch brook trout.

    1. Yeah, I couldn't find a lot of information on these cliffs...which was exactly what drew me to them. Had no idea that there was good fishing in those ponds. Did you fish the brook up as well?

  4. I didn't fish the outlet to Buckhorn Ponds. It isn't really fishsble in that it gains a thousand feet in a mile or so. Only one of the three ponds is fishable. The other two are pretty much connected and shallow. I really like the place because the chances of seeing anyone are pretty much non existent.