Story and photos by Michael van Winden
We hiked Pharaoh Mountain with seven teenagers. Pharaoh Mountain at 2556 feet high, offers a 360 degree spectacular view of the vast Pharaoh Lake Wilderness area with its many ponds and lakes and of course Schroon Lake. It is a fairly difficult hike and has a variety of vistas and vegetations to hike through. It takes about 6 to 7 hours (round trip). There are two marked trails to the summit with approaches from Crane Pond (from the northwest is 4.2 miles one way) and from Pharaoh Lake (from the southeast is 5.8 miles one way) being the steeper of the two.
We took the Crane Pond trail and enjoyed it very much. According to the ADK Hiking Guide it is the less difficult trail to the summit. To get there from Schroon Lake turn onto Alder Meadow Rd and continue straight for about 6.5 miles (continue straight at the Y-not up the hill). You may choose to
park here at a parking lot and hike the 2 mile unimproved road to Crane Pond or, if you have a 4WD vehicle, turn right at the parking lot and follow the dirt road to Crane Pond. At the parking lot at Crane Pond a sign marks the 3 mile Route to Pharaoh Mountain.
At the beginning of the hike close to Crane Pond it’s very green with lots of water and small ponds and beaver activity. There are many natural bridges to cross and it’s very shady and relatively easy to hike. The hike gets more difficult about one hour into it. Keep an eye on those trail markers especially further up where the trail is not necessarily a nice path to follow (big boulders to climb) Sometimes we were even on hands and feet going up.
The youngest hiker in our group was thirteen and she is the one with the strongest legs of all. We brought lots of water, grapes (good energy source) and sandwiches which we ate at the top of the mountain. The rewarding view is stunning and we were able to see Town of Schroon from the top of the mountain. Don't forget the bear-bell and the first-aid kit! We always have it with us when we hike ADK.
The weather was great and so was the mood. Back in Schroon we chilled out in the lake. Enjoy the hike – our next adventure is Mount Marcy this month.