Written by Joanne Conley
Tucked away on Ski Hi Road in the Town of Johnsburg is a short but rather rocky and challenging hike to Crane Mountain. With an elevation of 3,241', Crane is one of the more challenging hikes in the Lake George Area. Ours was the first car in the parking lot at 11:00 am, a later start than usual on a short December day, but plenty of time for this outing. We headed for the trail register on a level crunchy snow path.
Signage immediately after the trail register indicated we could take the longer blue trail through the Putnam Farm and up to the summit; a 3.1 mile lollipop via Crane Pond to the summit; or the steep and rocky up-and-back trail which includes two ladders. We opted for the pond trail and quickly started our ascent.
Microspikes were the order of the day, as the rocky trail soon became icy. Trekking poles and proper footwear were the right gear choices, things that can make or break your winter hiking experience.
The pond itself was pretty uneventful, but there are a number of primitive camping sites which would make this an excellent summer destination hike. Add to that fishing and swimming and you've got a sweet little getaway in the mountains that is easily accessible.
Onward toward the summit we trekked, popping out of the trees occasionally for views of the Adirondacks worth admiring.
Once on top, we encountered three groups of hikers that had come directly up the short, steep, ladder trail. Some were wearing microspikes while others were in bare boots. Considering the conditions, I'm glad I was wearing traction!!! We chatted for a little while and took pictures, but a stiff wind cooled us down quickly and we began our trek down the mountain.
Luckily for us, there was no snow or ice on the ladders. Although quite steep, careful foot placement had us down in no time.
The rest of the hike out was still icy and rocky, but certainly manageable.Heavy snowfall later in the winter will make this a snowshoe trek and may eliminate some of the rock hopping we encountered. My objective for the day was to get out in the mountains on a bluebird December day. Crane Mountain did not disappoint.