SWIMMING THROUGH TREES: Check out McGinn Hill, a Verplanck Colvin destination


There was a small peak that I had never climbed which was waiting in the reserves for a day just like this — McGinn Hill.

The summit of this knob has called my name a few times in the past, but I have always passed it by to save for a rainy day, mainly because it is so close and views would not be awarded. I knew the forest would be wet and the lack of a trail would just transfer that liquid sunshine onto our jackets, but being less than a 1-mile round-trip venture, I think we would survive. I didn’t want to carry my pack, but I practice what I preach and never leave it behind. I parked the car at the corner of state Route 28 and Chamberlain Road, and off we went.

The forest was open like the other peaks in the Indian Lake region, as I suspected. It actually looked like it might have been old farmland at one time, but I haven’t looked anymore into that deduction. The going was quite easy as we slowly climbed up to the base of the summit crown. The last 100 feet of elevation gain was steep. With the wet conditions under foot, it didn’t make it any easier to move forward with momentum. We might as well have been on snow.

There were limited viewing opportunities from the summit. Not from a lack of looking, but even if there were some grandiose opening, our view would still have been limited because the clouds had taken us in. The summit did have a cairn, and survey disks scattered about on boulders pointing back to the high point of McGinn Hill. There were also a couple survey tie-down loops driven into the summit rock, they looked like something Verplanck Colvin would have used during his Adirondack survey back in the late 1800s.

Once I got home, I did a bit of research and learned that Colvin was on McGinn Hill back in 1896 doing a survey of the area. There must have been fewer trees back then. Colvin was also noted for burning or clearing summits to gain a better line-of-sight. Surely, he must have done that here.

The day had come to an end, mainly because we called it. The rain looked to be moving in, and eventually it did, so it was good to get back on the road early, leaving us both time to take in a good late lunch, and crank the heater in the car. Once the windows defogged, we were off.

(Spencer Morrissey is a licensed outdoor guide and author of a few Adirondack adventure books.)