First a short lesson. Poke-O-Moonshine is possibly the most easily accessible mountain trail in the Adirondack Park. Only miles from the city of Plattsburgh, The trail is just off of interstate 87 at exit 33. That being said, the tranquility of an Adirondack hike is lost to the drone of passing cars for the first half of the hike. The sound of commerce will fade away in the distance as you climb higher up this 1.2 mile trek to the top. Don’t let the trails proximity to Interstate 87 deter you. You’ll be happy you continued on.
Every Adirondack trail is unique in it’s formation, and every hike I take is a whole new experience. The trees haven’t gotten their leaves yet, there are small patches of green life poking through the fallen leaves, and there are still small patches of ice left behind in the places that rarely see sunlight. Poke-O-Moonshine is a very popular rock climbing and repelling destination because of the open cliffs on the eastern face. Rock climbing or repelling is not exactly on my to-do list considering my insane fear of heights, but it is not uncommon to find a rock climber tackling this stretch of perfectly enticing cliffs. At only 1.2 miles, Poke-O-Moonshine is a great short hike with rewarding views. The perfect place to pack up a lunch for a day trip. The Poke-O-Moonshine trail passes through a very young forest of mixed hardwoods. The mature forest that once stood there was devistated by the Great Ice Storm of 1998 paving the way for all of the new growth we see today. The trail is rocky and a steep climb from the immediate trail head, but becomes a much more reasonable climb past the first mile. Poke-O can be a great practice hike for any aspiring Adirondack 46er.
The temperature this April 1st was perfect for hiking. No bugs, not too hot, not too cold, and although a threat of rain, perfectly clear views from the summit. My hiking partner and I started out early because of the weather forecast calling for rain. Rain can add a level of difficulty to any hiking trip short or long. The open rocky trail up Poke-O-Moonshine can become slippery very quickly if rain arises. Always be prepared for any situation. The locals have always lived by the old phrase , “if you don’t like the weather in the Adirondacks, wait a minute”. With that in mind, whatever the weather man says, pack as if he were wrong.
At the summit of “Poco”, there are clear views along the Adirondack Coast from the Champlain Valley to the north, east to Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains of Vermont, and south and southwest to magnificent views of the High Peaks. On this clear day we could clearly see Giant Mountain, Gothics Mountain, Whiteface, and Esther Mountains. As we snacked, we discussed our next possible trip up one of the higher peaks. We recently reached the summit of Whiteface and wanted to tackle another high peak soon before the warm weather brought out the bugs.
Time passes quickly as you look out at the views of the Adirondack Coast. You can easily find yourself spending an hour or more just sitting and quietly thinking of how magnificent it all is. We found ourselves immersed in the beauty for 45 minutes until we noticed that the air was much cooler at the summit and our digits were losing feeling. It was time to head back down and return home. We were out, up, and back down before noon. Poke-O-Moonshine is a fantastic, easy to get to, nice hike with magnificent views worth visiting.
Getting there. Take exit 33 on Interstate 87 (Keeseville). At the stop sign turn right. There was once a campsite at the base of Poke-O-Moonshine that is no longer in use. The trail head is behind the fence inside of this old campsite. You can take a right and park at the trail head sign in the old Campsite parking space, or park street-side on route 9N.