Another beautiful winter day. I woke early to get a jump-start on a short day hike up Pitchoff Mountain. Pitchoff Mountain is #80 in magnitude among the Adirondack 100 peaks over 3,000 feet. At 3,600 feet, Pitchoff mountain falls well below the 4,000 foot minimum height required for the distinction of being one of the Adirondack highest peaks. Because of this lack of status, Pitchoff mountain does not see as much foot traffic as the nearby trails to Cascade (ADK #36) and Porter (ADK #38) mountains. Although a low elevation in comparison to its neighbors, the outcrops from the many summits Pitchoff mountain offer some incredible views. With the lack of popularity, there’s a good chance to have these views all to yourself.
It was an unseasonably warm day with highs expected to reach 38 degrees at the lower elevations and a threat of rain throughout the day. With a winter storm warning on the horizon for later in the day, my hiking partner and I decided to hike out early to beat the storm and increase our chances of finding adequate parking. Pitchoff Shares the limited parking area with the trailhead for Cascade and Porter mountains making parking a commodity.
Pitchoff mountain sits at the southern edge of the Sentinel Range Wilderness within the Adirondack park. The trail is a through-trail easily hiked with a car parked at the east and west trailhead along route 73. Although there is a through-trail, We chose to do a shortened trip up to the summit of Pitchoff with a side trip to an area known as the Balanced Boulders. The 3,600′ summit of Pitchoff is two miles from the West trailhead with 1,500′ in elevation gain. Although short, it is very steep trail and not suitable for an out of shape hiker.
Within a few hours we had reached the Balanced Boulders. The actual summit of Pitchoff Mountain is fully treed and offers no views. The rocky ledge of the Balanced Boulders offers unobstructed views. We could proudly look out from here and recognize many hikes we had taken in the past. Cascade Mountain towered high in the foreground with Giant, Porter, Marcy, Colden, Algonquin, Wright and Hurricane visible within the panoramic views. I felt an incredible sense of accomplishment to stand secluded in the mountains and recognize so many peaks from prior hikes. Just knowing that I had reached the summit of these eight visible peaks (and many others) was humbling. Here in this place there is never a past or future. There is only this moment right now.
We stayed here at the Balanced Boulders for quite some time snapping photos, pausing for a snack, and just soaking it all in before turning back to finish the climb to the summit. Knowing that there are no views at the actual summit of Pitchoff Mountain, we still couldn’t allow ourselves to reach this point and not finish our way to the top. It is approximately .6 miles From the Balanced Boulders to the summit. The last leg of the journey is not as physically demanding as the first, but with the amount of ice we encountered it did take a lot of thought and care to maintain our footing.
We quickly reached the summit and used the opportunity to take in some more nourishment and talk about our. day so far. Earlier in our hike we had noticed a group of ice climbers scaling the new slide of Cascade Mountain and wondered how far they had gotten. We finished our snack, carried on for a short distance to a small outcrop to take a look at a different angle, and decided to venture back down to the Boulders to watch the climbers make their ascent.
Pitchoff Mountain and the Balancing Boulders made for a great short day hike with rewarding views and a great escape from the reality of daily routine.