Monday, November 6, 2023

Peaked Mountain

Peaked Mountain stands in the central Adirondacks in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness not too far from Indian Lake and North Creek. Although not as well known as many of the higher mountains in the Adirondacks, photos of the mountain caught my interest. At a modest 2,919’ in elevation, it’s more than 2,000 feet lower than the highest peaks in the Adirondacks. The rocky, exposed summit rises above a couple of ponds and it looked like a fun and pretty mountain to climb. 

By early October, the foliage color reached its peak and I wanted to catch the colors on a hike before an incoming storm blew the remaining leaves down. I headed to Peaked October 6th. The forecast called  for a relatively warm day, but I anticipated at least some showers on the hike. 

The hike begins at the north end of Thirteenth Lake. You reach the lake a couple minutes from the trailhead. The trail follows the lakeshore for just under a mile. At times, the trail travels immediately along the lake, allowing for nice views of the lake itself. Across the lake, Balm of Gilead Mountain serves as a backdrop. Although the foliage was just past peak, plenty of color still covered the trees. I always appreciate a shoreline hike, and Thirteenth Lake doesn't disappoint.

Thirteenth Lake

Balm of Gilead Mountain

Looking along the shoreline

The trail near the lake

Choya waiting patiently

A closeup of the foliage color

The trail leaves the lake and gradually climbs along Peaked Mountain Brook. I expected a fairly easy hike along the brook through the forest as I climbed toward Peaked Mountain Pond. I didn't expect to find a beautiful mountain stream with numerous waterfalls. When reading about this hike, I didn't really see much mention of the brook or it’s waterfalls.

Hiking through a rocky cleft

Looking up at the tree canopy

A carpet of leaves

The first little waterfall

A closeup of the first drop

The waterfalls continued one after another. Many of the falls are rather small cascades, but still quite scenic in the rocky brook. The water level wasn't particularly high, but it had enough volume to keep the falls flowing nicely. In high water, this stream must be a real treat. The colorful leaves in the water added to the scene. I stopped to photograph at least half a dozen different slides, cascades, and drops. The final waterfall that I passed featured the largest drop. 

Waterfall two

A small double drop

A panned out view of the double drop

Another closeup of a small drop

A leaf covered slide

The most impressive of the waterfalls

The trail traveled further away from the stream after the last waterfall. Although many of the leaves have fallen from the trees, the trail wasn't too difficult to follow. Where the leaves hid the trail, they were often full of color. I passed a few sections where the trail was covered in bright red or yellow.

A red carpet of leaves

Eventually, the trail crosses the brook and leaves its banks. Although generally in the woods, the trail occasionally travels near boggy stretches of the brook and passes a meadow or two. The first look of Peaked Mountain comes at a beaver pond. From the beaver pond you get a nice look at the mountain's rocky summit. 
Passing an open meadow

The first good look of Peaked Mountain from
the beaver dam

Zoomed in look at Peaked

Colorful foliage

A few minutes after leaving the beaver pond, I reached Peaked Mountain Pond. From the trail, you can just barely see a sliver of Peaked Mountain. I stopped for a short break to talk to a couple of hikers at the pond. A drizzle began to fall. I hoped to climb to the summit and back down before serious rain fell since the trail climbs over sections of rocky slabs.

The shore of Peaked Mountain Pond

From the pond, the trail starts off easy enough as it passes some interesting large rocks. Over the last .4 miles, the serious climbing begins with the trail gaining about 670'. The route travels over steep pitches of slabby rock with roots. The mist continued as I made my way to the summit.

Choya near Peaked Mountain Pond

Trailside boulders

Large rock along the trail

Climbing slabby rock

Large patch of open rock

The trail ends at the summit benchmark. Several open outcroppings around the summit provide nice views of the surrounding terrain. Although mist and  low clouds obscured the distant mountains, the scenery was still impressive. Peaked Mountain Pond, surrounded by low mountains and fall color, was quite pretty. Looking down the Peaked Mountain Pond Brook drainage, covered with bright foliage, was rather eye-catching. The low clouds passing over the nearby mountains enhanced the scenery. 

Looking down at Peaked Mountain Pond

Choya seeed to enjoy the view too

Looking down at the forest color

Mist obscured the distant mountains

Looking across open rock near the summit

While the precipitation was never more than a mist, I wanted to descend before the rocky path became too slippery on the slabs. The clouds moving in looked like they may contain heavier rain. I made it back to Peaked Mountain Pond with no issues. I took a few minutes to explore along the shoreline of the pond to get a better look back at the peak. A short bushwhack gave me the views I was seeking.

Peaked Mountain from Peaked Mountain Pond

A closeup of the mist on the summit

Satisfied with a few photos from the pond. I continued back toward Thirteenth Lake. The trail returns on the same route that I hiked in on. As expected, the rain picked up as I made my way along the brook. The rain never was more than a light steady rain, but enough to make everything wet. The footing became a little tricky as the ground became wetter with wet leaves covering slippery rocks and roots. I didn't want to linger in the rain any longer than I had to and picked up the pace back to the trailhead. Despite a fairly warm start to the hike, the air cooled quite a bit as the rain picked up. I was somewhat surprised to see several groups of backpackers had set up camp near the lake as I neared the end of my hike.

Passing a large rock near the beaver pond

Balm of Gilead Mountain over Thirteenth Lake 

I'm sure the hike to Peaked Mountain is an enjoyable experience any time of year, but the colorful foliage really added to the hike. While the peak itself is the main draw of the hike, the entire route really makes this trip shine. I enjoy bodies of water and the pleasant, lakeside stroll along Thirteenth Lake to start this trip takes in a nice view of the lake. I always enjoy mountain streams, so the stretch of small waterfalls along the trail was really a pleasant surprise. The views from the beaver pond and Peaked Mountain Pond of Peaked Mountain certainly don't disappoint. And who doesn't enjoy an open rocky summit? Even the dreary conditions along the second half of the hike seemed to enhance the scenery. 

A gloomy, but pretty day

I definitely recommend making the trip to Peaked Mountain. At just over 7 miles in length, the distance is fairly manageable for most hikers. Although the last half-mile to the summit climbs steeply over somewhat challenging terrain, most of the route sees only gradual elevation changes. With a large lake, waterfalls, ponds, and an open summit; you get to enjoy a little bit of everything the Adirondacks has to offer on this hike.

Choya posing on Peaked Mountain

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