The Adirondacks offer up one of the greatest explosions of color during the Autumn season. This short-lived spectacle is always the starting bell for my hiking season to begin. This year, same as last, I opted for a casual hike to reintroduce myself to the mountains and begin preparing for some much more strenuous hikes through the winter. This weekend I visited the incredible sights of Indian Head.
I’ve seen photos shared in the past of this expansive view standing high on the cliffs above the Lower Ausable Lake. Indian Head is perched between the peaks of the Great Range and the Pinnacle Range and fully within the boundaries of the Adirondack Mountain reserve. This sight and the prospect of standing there while the trees were ablaze with color was something I wasn’t going to miss. My hiking partner and I started out early to beat the rush. The parking lot was sure to fill up fast this weekend. The high for the day was set to be a record-breaking 83 degrees with clear sky. The unseasonable warm temperature and the foliage at 85% peak was sure to bring out a lot of other hikers looking to see the Adirondack foliage from the many great vantage points of the high peaks.
In the wee hours of the morning while the sun began to bake the dew off of the fields surrounding the Ausable Club, we made our way to the main gate for the Lake Road. The Lake Road and the Ausable Club are privately owned land, but there is an easement to allow hikers to use the property so long as they follow a simple set of rules. There are a few options for the ascent to Indian Head off of the lake Road. The farthest is at about three miles and the closest at the Gil Brook Trail which also leads to the summits Colvin and Blake Peak (#39 and #43 of the Adirondack 46). We chose to take the Gil Brook Trail and enjoy the brook along the way. While ascending, the sun had crept high enough in the sky to crest over the high peaks around us and fill the valley with an incredible glow as the light filtered through the brightly colored leaves. The bright colors of the trees and early morning sun danced on the swiftly moving Gil Brook. I paused for a moment to breathe in the sweet smell of autumn leaves and the rich pine.
The trail to Indian Head seemed much shorter that I know it was. The hike was not steep or challenging, and the picturesque nature of the entire journey made the 2 1/2 hour journey feel more like minutes. We broke through the trees and there before us was an incredible unobstructed view above the Lower Ausable Lake. The high peaks rise sharply around the Lake framing out a view like none other in the Adirondacks. We stayed for some time here taking photos and gazing at the brightly colored foliage surrounding us. I could have stayed for hours in this place without growing bored. We left the views to nature began our descent back down to the Lake Road.
This short day hike to Indian Head is definitely one that I will repeat many times over.