If you live in/near the Capital Region of New York, you’re probably familiar with Prospect Mountain. This popular Southern Adirondack mountain sits on the west side of Lake George; overlooking the lake and its village, Prospect’s summit allows for barbecues and picnics, and its history includes Prospect Mountain House where visitors would ride an incline railway car in the early 1900s for a night of dinner and dancing. (Some of the railcar remains can still be seen at the summit!)
There is also a road leading to the top.
Did you hear that? It was the sound of ears perking all around you!
The Veterans Memorial Highway takes visitors to the top of Prospect Mountain from Memorial Day through mid-October for a small fee where visitors of all abilities are able to enjoy a beautiful Adirondack view.
One early spring morning, after a full night of celebrating his colleague’s retirement, Mark and I set out to explore this regional hotspot. But as the road was still closed for the season, and we had pizza calories in our future, we planned to hike the one-and-a-half mile trail to the top.
His first trip up, my second. As we set out, I ran through my memories of this hike:
- Harder than I expected.
Accurate. For once, my memory served me correctly. Not that it made any difference, we were hiking it no matter what. No matter one of us had whiskey-belly. No matter it was raining and windy. No matter the trail was mostly likely a sloppy mess.
Trailhead: 108 Cooper Street in the Village of Lake George
Distance: 2.8 miles, round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,535′
From the Cooper Street trailhead, you cross a metal footbridge that spans I-87. This unnerving experience is completely unavoidable and my best tip is to look straight ahead. Don’t. Look. Down.
After signing in at the trail register, climb. Just go up and keep going up. Sometimes there is steeper up, and sometimes you go up in a rush of water. But you are just going to go up. In my opinion, there is nothing significant to report here as you will mainly see 1) rocks, 2) water, and 3) pines.
Nature is enough, people. But some trails are prettier than others. On this trail, a road crossing occasionally breaks up the pine and climb, and my favorite light and airy birches take over the landscape toward the top.
And then, the moment arrives. You can see the finish line!
But you will be mistaken, because just when you think you’re at the top, there are just a few more ups to go. But then you’ll finally reach the summit and all the whining about water and rocks and up will be so worth it, you guys.
I’ve hiked more interesting trails. And I’ve seen better views. But the summit has a vibe. It’s what an outdoor space should be as it welcomes you to sit and stay and relax, oh and cook up a few hot dogs and maybe sing a few camp songs while you’re there.
For this trip, Mark and I forgot the hot dogs, and it’s my sister who knows all the camp songs, not me. But we saw the value in coming back, and planned a future trip up. Maybe a day not so rainy, and with the kids.
If you hiked Prospect Mountain, you’re already in Lake George so take advantage of the Village! In the off-season you’ll have less options, but regardless of the time of year, the lake is always there. And so is Caffe Vero.
These people know their coffee. My tip is to know their coffee, too.