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Old 09-07-2020, 07:59 AM   #1
aka NumNum
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 40
Pitchoff Mountain

I had wanted to hike Pitchoff Mountain for quite some time. I must admit I did not think clearly when I picked this weekend to hike it. Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest times in the High Peaks area, and I really did not want to add to that problem, but I did. While I was driving to the trailhead parking area I made a decision, if I could not find a place to park, I would just return home. I really did not have a plan B today.

I was somewhat surprised to find open parking spaces. I arrived at the parking area just after 6 am. The main parking area for Cascade and Pitchoff mountains was full, so I did have to park in one of the other parking areas just west of the main area. Even those were filling up fast. It added less than a 10th of a mile walking distance, no big deal.

I signed in on the west end trailhead and was soon on my way, it was 6:15. A nice crisp morning with clear blue skies, perfect. The trail starts out rough for us short-legged humans. The steps up from the road have a significant rise to them, but we made it.

The first part of the trail is rough looking and unnecessarily wide. This is a clear sign of overuse, and people just not staying on the trail. This would be prevalent in a few other areas as well, making it hard to follow the actual trail. The trail immediately starts to climb up until the ridge that it follows. There are some neat lookouts along the way offering views of Cascade Mountain, and Cascade Lake below. It was awhile before I got up in elevation enough, and away from the road before I could no longer hear the traffic passing by below.

There are sections of this trail that I liked. I knew there was a steep section, was not exactly sure when or where to expect it, but knew it was before the Balanced Rock side trail. I think it was just past the third lookout before I came to the first scramble. This was fun! It was not a typical monotonous trail; this trail had some cool features to it. Once I got above the first scramble the trail skirts around to the left a bit before it brings you to the next scramble. I call it a scramble, in fact, I counted four total, perhaps they are not technically scrambling per se, but they make you work to get up them.

I continued around to the left with several ups and downs, eventually making my way to what turned out to be the last scramble before the junction on the ridge. Each scramble was short-lived but definitely got the blood pumping. Soon I was on the ridge and made my way to the Balanced Rocks, lookout. Here I would take a little break, enjoy the views. I spent about 20 minutes relaxing in the sun, spying hikers on top of Cascade Mountain.

I eventually packed up and started towards my destination, Pitchoff Mountain. I ran into the first hikers heading towards Balanced Rocks. I did not see them again so they apparently only hiked for those views.

The trail over to Pitchoff is nothing like the trail below the ridge. There are some ups and downs, but nothing as long-lasting as the scrambles. There are still a few more views along the ridge walk to Pitchoff, but literally no views from the actual summit. Just beyond the summit on the right was a lookout that offered some views as well. I had arrived at the summit at 10:26.

I only stayed for a few minutes before heading down. I passed several couples that were upbound and had a nice conversation with a hiker at the bottom of one of the scrambles. Always nice to meet those who truly enjoy and respect the outdoors.

I logged just under 3.5 miles roundtrip and 1350’ of elevation gain.

If by chance some day you're not feeling well and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose has been fulfilled.
Red Skelton

Last edited by Craig; 10-06-2020 at 08:20 AM..
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Old 09-07-2020, 11:02 AM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Sounds like a good hike!

You didn't have to worry about parking in that area; the state has not yet created a problem there. They plan to destroy that parking in the next couple years, so it's good you got to it before that.

Yes, that trail should get some maintenance. Nothing really difficult, but a few of the rocky areas have developed "go around" trails, so perhaps the original routes could be improved a bit to reduce that. The biggest rocky area was the result of a landslide quite a while ago (maybe 20 years ago), and the trail was never repaired after that so hikers just sort of created their own ways. Unfortunately, none of that maintenance is going to happen, because the state plans to destroy the trail you hiked, and replace it with a much longer route. This will entail a great deal more work than would be required to simply fix the existing trail, and it will also greatly lengthen the trip to the popular balanced rocks destination, which will spoil it as a good trip for kids, and for people looking for a shorter but scenic hike.

Glad you got to enjoy Pitchoff while it's still nice! If you have the opportunity to get two vehicles here, try to do the through hike. Further east from the main summit along the ridge are several lower summits with spectacular views, some looking north and some looking south. The through trip is very worthwhile.
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Old 09-07-2020, 02:54 PM   #3
aka NumNum
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Originally Posted by TCD View Post
The through trip is very worthwhile.
Definately on my to do list. Maybe after tourist season winds down.
If by chance some day you're not feeling well and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose has been fulfilled.
Red Skelton
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Old 09-09-2020, 12:04 AM   #4
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Location: fulton, NY: AVATAR: W46r completion
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nice to see your still out bud,
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