Climbing Blue Mountain: The NYSDEC Trail

Oh, my aching muscles….

Blue Mountain is in the central Adirondacks. Located in Hamilton County, the peak of the mountain reaches 3750 feet (1143 meters) and elevation gain from the trail head is 1559 feet. The trail is approximately 2 miles up- you can do the math to see how steep the trail is! A 35-foot fire tower with incredible views tantalizes the hiker to endure the trail for some amazing Adirondack eye candy.

The views at the top are spectacular, but for the infrequent or novice hiker, it’s a lot of work to get there. All the information regarding the trail call this a “moderate” difficulty trail, with “difficult spots” toward the top. One site even said the first mile was “easy and meandering” and others called the second half “grueling.”

Look at our photos, below. Does that look “meandering” or “grueling” to you?

Livvy CLimbing 4

Hard Climbing

Our opinion? The first 1/2 mile is not easy, but it’s not terribly difficult. The narrow trails are littered with smooth river stones and a dizzying network of large tree roots. We climbed the trail one week after two consecutive hurricanes, however, so I think the mess from the torrential rains may account for the messiness of the trail. Also, while some spots were on rather smooth ground (and there were even a few horizontal areas, much to our relief!), most of the trail climbed at a 45 degree angle up rocks, over tree roots, and across large expanses of angled rock slabs.

We Quit

Sorry, that photo above is a bit blurry– but it gives you an idea of the enormous slabs of pitched rock that had to be scaled. I actually found the slabs easier to trek across than stumbling over the zillions of smooth river rocks. This photo shows the trail about 20 minutes from the summit.

The appeal of the trail is the view from the summit; there is little to interest you along the 2 miles up. This made the hike less enjoyable, as we’ve clambered up Buck Mountain in Pilot Knob, and liked the wide trail and interesting rock formations along the way. We did spot a very interesting stream. The water is an odd orange color. I suppose the stream has a high iron content, as there are iron mines in the area.

Iron Water 1

Iron Water 2

As we continued, the trail became noticeably difficult. Two older ladies (from France) bowed out as soon as they got to the #2 trail stop (there are 14 total). We saw several couples coming down, but only three besides us going up. Everyone was huffing and puffing except one gentleman who was carrying his toddler grandson. He boasted that he’s been climbing this trail for 30 years, and can make it up in less than an hour. Wow! It took us about 2 1/2 hours (but we also had our domestic cat with us). When we neared the peak, I had to stop. The incline was incredibly steep, and because I had my cat with me (we couldn’t leave her in the car), I decided to sit and wait for the group. It was a difficult decision for me because I did want to see the peak, but the incline was too dangerous to carry a cat carrier up and down again. I stopped at the #12 stop. This was my view:

Blue Mountain Almost There1

As far as trail markers, I’d give the trail a “C.” These markers were small, dark red, and tacked about 10 to 15 feet high. When we tried to leave the trail to return to the parking lot, we couldn’t find our way out. Two other couples, one of them experienced hikers, saw us wandering around and decided to help, but they got lost, too. Eventually, we followed the sounds of cars on the road and finally stumbled into the lot. Again, perhaps the trail was diverted because of the rains… not sure.

All the pain and agony of the trails was superseded by the views from the summit. The kids took photos.

View from Blue Mountain 9

View from Blue Mountain 3

View from Blue Mountain 5

View from Blue Mountain 4

View from Blue Mountain 6

View from Blue Mountain 8

The fire tower is accessible.

BM fire tower 1

View from Blue Mountain 1

View from Blue Mountain 7

Blue Mountain Summit

All in all, it was definitely a memorable experience, even if we were sore for days afterward. We’ve climbed mountains and hills before but this has been our toughest venture yet. I’d say the trail rates as more “difficult” than “moderate,” even “rugged” for much of the hike. The final 1/2 mile is indeed grueling, especially if you are lugging a hefty DSLR camera and a cat carrier up, haha. Be sure to bring water. Cell phone service was extremely poor (not surprising) and my son could get no service at the summit.

Before you go on any hike in the Adirondacks, be sure to check the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Adirondack trail information website at The site has updates of closures, emergencies, warnings, descriptions, and what to expect or include.

Adirondack Scenic Byways: Blue Mountain & Fire Tower NYSDEC Trailhead;–fire-tower-trailhead.html
Adirondack Experience: Blue Mountain Fire Tower; Blue Mountain Trail;

About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

Comments (6)

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  1. Carole says:

    Wow the pics are awesome! Gonna have to keep that hike in mind for a future trip! Can’t believe you had to bring Livvy – good for you for making it so far lugging the cat carrier, I’d say that’s quite an accomplishment. 🙂

    • Hey, Carole! Yeah, we had to bring Livvy because we couldn’t check in to the cabins until 4pm…. and seeing it was 1pm, we had this BRILLIANT idea to hike with the cat!!! 😐 He was a real hero, though, and carried her most of the way up and down. We also let her out from time to time, which she loved. Thank God we didn’t meet any bears. I wondered how I’d get her AND me up in a tree if we saw one….

  2. akaGaGa says:

    Good for you! That’s my most favorite mountain of all time. You’ll recognize it in the header photo on my blog – taken from ground level. 🙂

    I have climbed it, too, but not for a long time. I went up it and down it like a jack rabbit when I was a kid. My grandfather had a camp on the lake, so that was my summer vacation for many years. I climbed it one more time when I was in my twenties, and if I remember correctly, the only thing that hurt were my knees from the trip back down, especially hard over those big smooth rocks.

    I’d like to try it again, but I’m afraid I’d have to be carried these days. 🙂

  3. Kristel says:

    So pretty!! And from what I understand, the orange coloring to the waters of the ADK streams is due to tannic acid, the same stuff that gives tea its color. That’s what I’ve been told anyway. Oh, how I’d love to make that trip again! Looks like Livvy had a fine time too. Oh, and by the way, bears can climb trees 😀

  4. Namacura says:

    Wow, never heard of the mountain before, but it has been added to my list of places to visit. I think it is special that Livvy got to experience the fresh mountain air and walked on a leash… amazing.

  5. […] spectacular photos of the views from the summit, you can read my article about our adventure, on my New York Travel blog. If you like this post, please share it! Livvy, […]