SWIMMING THROUGH TREES: Black Bear Mountain (2,442 feet) Loop from Route 28
Black Bear Mountain is the big brother, so to speak, of Rocky Mountain. Located close to the village of Inlet, this peak gets some pretty serious attention from hikers; the summit can be a crowded location. Black Bear Mountain from Route 28 is the most popular approach, but a secondary approach can be found leaving from Uncas Road. Using the Route 28 trailhead you have an excellent opportunity to create a loop for a slightly longer outing (6.3 miles).
To get there just follow Route 28 west out of the village of Inlet and in no time you will see the trailhead on the right; in the summer it can have over 50 cars jammed into any nook they can find, but in the fall of the year its much mellower. The 1.9 miles Black Bear Mountain Trail is to the right side of the parking area.
One of the nice features of the Black Bear Mountain Trail is that you can loop over the top and connect to another trail making for an interesting day in the woods. The loop will add on time and distance to the trip but you will get to see different lays of land, multiple new views and spend some time on a lighter used and soft trail.
From the trailhead you will start off walking along an old rocky woods road which is not difficult at all and quickly come to a split in the trail, take the right at this time, you will return left at the end of the loop. From here the old road continues for a bit and climbs to another flat section, before it turns into more of a foot trail. The trail will start to ascend and at times quite steeply. The final approach to the summit is a bit more interesting, as rocky footing starts to be introduced as more of a scramble and then you can start to enjoy your first views. The summit of Black Bear has several viewing areas to spread out amongst the crowds of people who often frequent this peak, choose one and relax.
If you wish to continue on the loop, please read further and have a great trip. The loop continues over the top of the mountain; it can be hard to locate off the summit but look closely for markers on the trees and you will find the way. The trail will drop off the summit on a very narrow trail. You will have several open rock views along the descent so plan some extra time to breath them in. The trail is easy to follow, and its use is becoming more and more over the last couple years. In some cases, ends up being steep and slippery, so take time to plan your steps if you need to. The descent is through a different forest type than you were in on the way up, with the feeling of being in the High Peaks.
You will be down off the mountain quicker than you think as you come to the Uncas Road Trail which comes in straight ahead. Don’t follow here but head left along a lovely trail that shadows the base of Black Bear Mountain. Through this area the forest opens into mostly hardwoods. The lower portion of this loop is quite flat, and for being as flat as it is, there are not too many wet areas to navigate through, but there are some. It will be 3-miles back to the trail you started in on, but those 3-miles are delicate and relaxing. Once back at the trail intersection you passed on the way in, you will have about 0.75 miles remaining to your vehicle on Route 28.
Black Bear is an excellent destination for snowshoeing and does get some moderate winter attention. It may be too much of a hike for young children under winter conditions.
The back portion of the loop gets much less snowshoe use, it may require the user to break trail under more difficult conditions. The mountain itself is not recommended for cross-country skiing but the lower portion is a designated cross-country ski trail. This would make for an excellent mixed sport outing. Ski to the base, snowshoe to the top and back, and ski out.
(Spencer Morrissey is a licensed outdoor guide and author of a few Adirondack adventure books.)