SWIMMING THROUGH TREES: Climbing Castle Rock and walking the loop

Trail to Castle Rock (Provided photo — Spencer Morrissey)

This snowshoe trip is a 3-mile out and back to Castle Rock or a 3-mile loop, depending on conditions of the backside of the loop and out and back might be the best option.

Initially you will be following a private dirt road, please stay on the marked route. The trail markers are on the power poles, but when in doubt keep right. After a short distance you will leave the road and at this point you will have to put on your snowshoes if you haven’t already. Sometimes the road is packed enough, and often plowed throughout the winter. Within a few hundred feet of leaving the road you will come to split in the trail. Follow the trail left over a small foot bridge to do the loop in a clockwise direction. This bridge crosses the outlet to Chub Pond, which in the winter looks more like a snow-covered field. Continuing along a nice mellow trail you will come to an intersection with a spur trail on your left which leads to Blue Mountain Lake. At the trail intersection you will start a steep and continuous climb up the shoulder of Castle Rock. The ascent to the Castle Rock trail is very steep for a short period of time. Footing can be difficult along this section, but under most circumstances, it is just steep. Above the steep section it moderates to a nice grade.

As you crest the steeper section you will be able to see the cliffs of Castle Rock in front of you. Soon you will come to another intersection. Here you will need to go right, where the climb gets much steeper with large steps over rocks and roots. This tends to be a tricky spot with snowshoes, but you will need them or another form of traction. In a short distance you will be on the open rock summit of Castle Rock overlooking Blue Mountain Lake. After you have relaxed and soaked up the views return to the last intersection. The steep upper portion can be very difficult on the descent, especially in snowshoes and especially if it is icy. Take your time and be careful on this section. Follow your route up for an out and back or head to the right for the loop. This section of the loop, especially in the winter gets very little use in comparison; expect it to not be properly packed and at times a bit harder to follow.

If you decide to go on the loop you will drop down slightly to a fork in the red trail. Left leads to Upper Sargent Pond and right leads back to the trailhead.

Continue to your right following the trail as you are led through open woods on a side slope, natural springs run off Peaked Mountain and, in some cases, can cause slushy conditions. The trail at this point is rolling hills and eventually you will be at the shore of Chub Pond again but on the opposite side from earlier. From here continue along a moderate to easy trail as it leads back to the first split you had this day – near the footbridge. Follow left back to the road and back to the trailhead.

How to get there From the intersection of Route 30 and Route 28N in the Town of Long Lake follow Route 30/28N toward Blue Mountain Lake. Continue into Blue Mountain Lake and pass by the Adirondack Museum. Just past the Adirondack Museum locate Maple Lodge Road on your right. Follow this road to the hiker parking and the trail register; park in designated areas only please.