SWIMMING THROUGH TREES: Floodwood Mountain works for all kinds of hikers
Floodwood Mountain is an excellent hike for all makes and models of hikers. The terrain is moderate with only a couple of short, steep sections. The views are amazing, and a southern summit, which is a bit farther, offers even better views. The trail does continue to the southern summit but is much harder to follow, so pay attention.
How to get there
From the intersection of state Routes 86 and 3 in Saranac Lake, follow Route 86 toward Paul Smiths. Continue for about 5 miles to Route 186 on the left. Follow Route 186 to its end where it turns into Route 30 (about 4 miles). Follow Route 30 west for about 5.75 miles to Floodwood Road on the right — this is easy to drive by as it is on a sharp corner. Follow Floodwood Road for about 6.25 miles, and watch for signs for Floodwood Mountain. There will be a turnoff on the left near the end. Parking is not ideal during busy times.
This is a 2.1-mile hike, one way, over easy to moderate terrain. As a moderate hike for most new hikers, this trek only gains about 675 feet from trailhead to summit. From the gate, you will be hiking along an access road toward a Boy Scout camp, which has a hiker easement allowing you to pass through. Don’t follow the left fork in the road; it leads to the camp. Follow the signs for Floodwood Mountain, which is a right turn.
The trail leaves the road soon after the fork and begins a moderate climb over slightly rocky and quite often muddy terrain. There will be a couple short steeper pitches along the way, and these can be a bit tricky in the footing aspect of things. The main trail brings you to the highest summit on Floodwood Mountain; there is a great view from here.
A sign on a tree clues you in the right direction to the southern summit. This section is lightly marked and is only about 0.25 miles in length. There is a short steep descent over slab rock, which again can be slippery, and then to a small rock scramble that gets you to the top with an even better view. Open views reward you with a relaxing space with vistas of the areas mountainous layout.
Winter isn’t that far around the corner, so why not mention it? Heck, you might want to scrapbook this trail. This hike is a great snowshoe trip but not recommended for skiing due to its steep terrain near the top. Parking is generally not an issue, but the road could be narrower and icy. A nice snow coverage will bury the rocks and mud and make for a wonderfully fast descent.
Spencer Morrissey is a licensed outdoor guide and author of a few Adirondack adventure books.