Monday, June 29, 2020

Seymour Mountain

I haven't hiked an Adirondack High Peak since last fall.  With the worst of mud and black fly season over, I decided I should get back to the summits.  The Seward Range stands as the western most range of the High Peaks. Four summits make up the range.  Seward, Donaldson, and Emmons make up the main part of the range.  Isolated to the east by Ouluska Pass, Seymour Mountain sits alone from the rest of the range.  I climbed Seward, Donaldson, and Emmons last summer,  I decided to climb Seymour this time.  Seymour stands at 4,120', making it the 34th tallest Adirondack peak

I set out on the morning of Friday, June 26th to tackle Seymour.  The hike begins at the Seward Trailhead in Coreys.  The first 5.5 miles of this hike traveled the same route I hiked on my backpacking trip around the Seward Range in early May. (More photos are available on that post at the link here)  My frequent hiking partner, my dog Choya, came along for the hike.  With Choya in tow and temperatures approaching 80F, we got an early start and were on the trail at 615AM.

Pleasant trail

Plenty of toads along the trail
There is a mileage discrepancy between the trail sign, map, and guide book.  The sign at the trailhead above puts the distance to the Seymour Trail turnoff at roughly 4.9 miles.  The map and guide book put the distance around 5.5 miles.  Most sources I found seem to favor the slightly longer map and guide distance.  Either way, the approach to the Seymour Trail makes up a majority of the hike.  The trail on the approach covers easy terrain with only 400' of elevation gain.

Ward Brook Truck Trail
There are a couple of junctions on the approach.  If you follow the signs for the lean-tos, you'll stay on the correct trail.  Since the trail to Seymour is not officially maintained, there is no sign marking its turn off.  Keep hiking until you reach Ward Brook Lean-to.  A minute or so past the lean-to, a cairn marks the turn off for Seymour.  Make sure you pass the Ward Brook Lean-to.  Another cairn before the lean-to leads to the other summits of the Seward Range.

Ward Brook Lean-to, No this is not my tent

Cairn marking the turn for Seymour
The challenging trail conditions don't start until the Seymour Trail.  The first half mile or so of the Seymour Trail starts out fairly easy as it follows close to a pleasant creek.  The trail gets progressively steeper on its last mile to the summit.  Gentle terrain gives way to an increasingly steep and rugged herd path.  At first the path steepens and becomes rockier.  Large sections of roots complicate the footing.  The path moves onto a section of steep slab.  Slippery footing further complicates progress.  Several spots require your hands to negotiate the terrain with steep rock and protruding roots.  A few spots I had to give Choya a boost.  Above the slab, a few narrow views to the north look toward Ampersand and surrounding mountains.

Tumbling water along trail to Seymour

Rough and rooty

A jumble of rock and root

Steep slab

3-4 foot rooty section I had to lift Choya up
Once above the the shoulder of Seymour the terrain levels.  Just below the summit, an outcropping looks to the north with the best views on the mountain.  From the outcropping, you get a nice look over Ouluska Pass to the remaining bulk of the Seward Range.  Long Lake's northern end is plainly visible to the south of Emmons on the range's southern point.  Beyond Seward, Tupper Lake's landmarks can be seen along with Raquette Pond.

Ampersand Mountain over Ampersand Lake

The rest of the Seward Range
I stopped briefly at the outcropping before continuing to the true summit which stands a couple minutes further along the trail.  While the summit proper is less than remarkable, continuing a short distance beyond leads to more nice scenery.  Scrubby trees allow views across the Cold River toward the Santanoni Range.  Many High Peaks can be seen to the east, including the MacIntyre Range, Marcy, and numerous other summits south to Allen.  There isn't really an area to sit to take in the scenery just south of the summit.  Dense scrub limits the area to relax or sit.


Santanoni Range

MacIntyre Range and Marcy to the far right

Looking east toward Marcy, Skylight, Redfield, Allen 

I returned to the outcropping on the north side of the summit.  Both Choya and I were ready to take a few minutes rest and eat a snack.  I planned on taking a longer break to enjoy the views.  Unfortunately after a couple minutes, the black flies came out in force and invited all their friends.  Other than an occasional mosquito during the approach, the bugs weren't much of an issue.  On the summit, the black flies held on to their last stronghold.  I didn't linger too much longer before they became unbearable.  I could see Choya had enough as well as he snapped at them around his face.

Whiteface in the distance

Choya enjoying a breather 

Ampersand Lake and Mountain

I think this is the Sentinel Range

Distant Whiteface 

Choya on the lookout just below the summit

Despite the descent feeling much cooler, it seemed much more difficult than the climb.  The slick rocks and roots made for some rough footing.  Although not too muddy, everything seemed damp, making for a tedious descent.  With only a mile of real steepness, the tricky descent went by fairly quickly.

On the descent
I made it back to the approach trail fairly quickly.  Back on the flat terrain with nice trail, the hike back to the trailhead seemed to go by rather fast.  I reached the trailhead about 1225PM.

Choya leading the way on a bog bridge

Bridge over one of the bigger water crossings

The homestretch 

Despite clocking in around 14 miles, Seymour Mountain isn't too difficult of a hike.  About 11 miles of the trip travels over the flat terrain leading to the actual summit trail.  Only the last mile or so to the summit covers steep and rough terrain.  That last mile to the summit seemed longer than it was and the rest of the hike went by rather quickly.  I was surprised that the roundtrip hike took just over six hours.  I found the hike to be much easier than the hike over the main part of the Seward Range.  Far less mud covered the route to Seymour compared to the rest of the Seward Range.

While the views from the upper reaches of Seymour surpassed my expectations, I don't see myself rushing back anytime too soon.  Seymour sees a moderate amount of traffic since it stands as one of the Adirondack 46er High Peaks.  I'm guessing Seymour probably isn't on anyone's short list of favorite High Peaks.  It's a fairly long hike and there are plenty of summits with better vistas.  During my outing, I saw a handful of other groups hiking as well as a few groups camping near the lean-tos.  When I wrapped up my hike, the parking lot was near capacity.  I expect on the weekend, an early start is necessary to ensure a spot at the trailhead.  If Seymour didn't surpass the magical Adirondack 4000' mark, I think it would see very few, if any visitors.  Nonetheless, I made my trip to Seymour on a nice day and had the summit to myself, apart from the black flies.  I'm glad I made the trip.

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