An easy hike with a splendid view
Located a short distance west of the Hamilton-Herkimer County border, Bald Mountain (also known as Rondaxe Mountain, which is frankly a more interesting name) is a great, easy hike for folks who want a nice view and minimal effort to reach it. No wonder it is such a popular day hike. Bald is also easily accessed from the series of trails which run the county line south of Big Moose Lake through Moss Lake, meaning that while it is an easy hour-long hike, it can also be incorporated into longer outings . On our recent trip through Hamilton County and the Old Forge area, Wren and I took the chance to hike Bald Mountain on a beautiful, unseasonably warm day, and I was glad that we did.
A school group was just loading up as we arrived in the early afternoon, and it occurred to me that the trail would be a great spot to bring such a group. The parking lot was quite full — particularly for a weekday — and we greeted a few folks who were coming off the trail as we began. The hike up Bald is easy by Adirondack standards, but anyone attempting it should know there are a few steep rock faces to traverse as they climb. These spots are trickier coming down, particularly with leaves on the ground to hide obstacles to good footing. But for the most part the hike is not difficult, and Wren and I cruised up the bedrock trail quickly.
Enjoying the sunny summit
Even before the summit, the trail offers view upon view of the Fulton Chain of Lakes as the trail turns and follows Route 28 for much of the way. I stopped to take in the warm sun and snap some photos while Wren explored with her nose. First through Fourth lakes were below us, and we paused again at the top for more photos and to take a drink while I listened to a flock of pine siskins overhead, going this way and that like a chattering wind.
The summit is also graced by a well maintained fire tower, which offers great views in all directions of mountains such as Blue Mountain and some of the High Peaks (including Mt. Marcy) visible. When I climbed up the steps for a few photos, Wren insisted on joining me. I don't generally want her on fire tower steps, even if they are well protected, and my trip up them was brief as a result.
I also chatted with a couple from Utica who were visiting for the day and were excited to explore more hikes in the region. I suggested they check out the ADK guides to the Adirondacks for more ideas about where to hike in the southern and central Adirondacks, and I hiked part way back down with them as Wren trotted along at their side as if they were old friends. She also likes being first in line when we pass other hikers.
Planning a return trip
After signing out at the bottom, it was time for some lunch. I sat on a rock while Wren finished the remnants of her breakfast, then she asked me to share my own food, which I did. The Utica couple returned and we chatted briefly again — they had evidently taken a more scenic side route on their way down the mountain, thereby delaying them. Their questions about other places to hike in the neighborhood had me thinking on the drive home as I passed a few other trailheads, including the trailhead for Black Bear Mountain. I will have to venture back down there another time to explore more of the area on foot.