Sunday, June 18, 2023

Moxham Mountain

Moxham Mountain risess near the town of Minerva in the central Adirondacks. Its modest height and isolated location help keep it off many people's radar compared to busy Adirondack destinations like the High Peaks. I probably would not have known about Moxham if I hadn't driven by it a couple years ago. Driving from the south on route 28N; just south of Minerva, a large, bare rock dome towers above a meandering stream along the road. I looked at a map to figure out the name of the mountain. It was the south wall of Moxham. I found out that a hiking trail climbs up the opposite side of the mountain. I knew I wanted to check it out at some point.

Choya on Moxham

The trail for Moxham starts just a few miles west of Minerva. The trail only travels about 2.5 miles from the trailhead to the summit. Since its a relatively short hike, I put it on the backburner for a couple years. Finally I decided to check it out in late May as mud season lingered at higher elevations. My dog Choya happily joined me.

I reached the trailhead around noon. As soon as I stepped out of the van, black flies let their presence be known. I was a little worried about the rest of the hike, but as soon as I left the parking lot and headed into the woods, the black flies disappeared.


The trail climbed right away, but never seemed steep. Pretty quickly we followed a wooded ravine off to our side. The foliage generally blocked the view into the ravine. A few large glacial erratics sit along the trail. The trail meanders through a hardwood forest on good trail mixed in with smooth sections of rock.

Hiking in a clearing, with the ravine to the right

Choya approaching a
Large glacial erratic 

The forest opens up several times as the trail crosses sections of flat rock. It doesn't take too long before you start to have some views. The views build as you hike further along the trail.

An early view from an opening in the forest

Hiking across section of smooth rock

The trail crosses the top of the rock

Eventually the trail starts hiking near a line of cliffs that lead to the summit. The trail generally stays in the forest, but the cliff band is usually just a few feet from the trail. Below the cliffs sits a large meadow in a valley. Short spur trails access the top of cliffs with great views to the south toward the much higher Gore Mountain. A few patches of snow still lingered on the ski trails of Gore even though I was hiking in the second half of May. At times, you can look along the cliff band toward the summit.

Gore Mountain visible over a meadow

View towards the summit

Crane Mountain in the distance from
a clifftop vista

As you reach the summit, several spurs lead to different view points. Make sure to check out all the spurs and follow the main trail to its end to see all the different vistas. The 2,464' summit of Moxham consists of a large open rocky area with impressive views to the south and west.

Looking to the south towards
North Creek from the summit

Choya at the main viewpoint on Moxham

From the summit, Gore Mountain dominates the view, immediately to the south with Crane Mountain beyond to its east. The Hudson River reflected the sun and was just barely visible in the haze. The town of North Creek sits below Gore Mountain. To the west Puffer and Bullhead Mountains dominate a long ridge. Snowy Mountain and Blue Mountain can both be seen to the west in the distance beyond the ridge. A large, white rocky patch to the west is the Barton Garnet Mine.

Puffer and Bullhead Mountains are the dominant peaks in
the distance, the white scar is the Barton Garnet Mine 

At the summit, I hoped to enjoy the scenery and relax for a while. It was a relatively warm day and I wanted to let Choya get his fill of water and rehydrate myself. Unfortunately, the black flies found us within a few minutes. I'm not talking about a few pestering black flies. We were assaulted by a full on cloud. Choya had some protection with his fur, but they clung to me on any exposed skin. This surprised me since the open summit was pretty breezing at a steady 15-20 MPH with stronger gusts. When Choya drank his fill of water, we departed after maybe just five minutes at the summit.

I followed the various spurs to get the different vantages from the mountain before starting my descent. I found the most interesting view as I left the summit. You look along the ridge over a long line of cliffs that lead away to the west. Just like on the summit, the black flies emerged with a fury anytime you stopped at an open area.

A good look at the cliff band along Moxham

Looking west over the cliff bands

As I retreated back into the woods, the black flies stayed behind. They never bothered me as I hiked as long as I was under the forest canopy. I'm happy that they left me alone in the forest, but was also a little confused since the trees blocked the wind and the air was pretty still. Away from the black flies, the 2.5 mile return to the parking lot was peaceful.

Choya ready to leave the black flies behind

Roundtrip, the hike to Moxham Mountain, travels about 5 miles. The elevation change is less than 1,000 feet from the trailhead to the summit. The terrain rolls a little bit and the total elevation gain totals closer to 1,400 feet of climbing all said and done. Along the trail, there are numerous points with views, not just on the summit. This makes Moxham quite a scenic hike. The distance and elevation gain are manageable for most hikers. I'm glad I finally hiked to Moxham Mountain. I wasn't disappointed.

Even though the hike is in a somewhat remote part of the Adirondacks, I still saw at least a half-dozen other groups on a weekday. The trail to Moxham is relatively new (built in 2014), but starting to gain popularity. I found that it is on at least two hiking list challenges, a dog friendly list of nine hikes called the ADK-9 and another list of mostly smaller mountains called the ADK 29er. The inclusion on these lists may be part of its gaining popularity.

A good look at the ponds below Moxham

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