Outside Magazine names Hurricane Mountain as the best hike in New York
KEENE — Outside Magazine, which has 38 million readers across its platforms each month, recently released a list of the best hikes in each of the 50 states. And Hurricane Mountain, between Keene and Elizabethtown, was named the best hike in New York.
With a photo and a brief description, the magazine recommended that readers hike Hurricane in the fall for “spectacular colors and crisp weather.”
The 3,694-foot mountain is home to one of the 25 or so fire towers in the Adirondacks, and is located in the Hurricane Mountain Wilderness. The fire tower that sits atop the mountain was erected in 1919, and the Friends of Hurricane Mountain group has been working to preserve the tower since the early 2000s.
“Fire observers were assigned to a lookout station on the summit of Hurricane Mountain beginning in 1910,” the history section of the Friends’ website says. “There was not a structure for the observers because the bald summit had a clear view in all directions. However, state workers strung 2.5 miles of telephone wire to the summit for quick communication between spotters and rangers.”
There are three trails to the summit of the mountain, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. From state Route 9N, the Hurricane Mountain Trail climbs about 2,000 feet over 3.4 miles, while the East Hurricane Mountain Trail ascends 1,700 feet over 2.7 miles. The North Trail, considered the most moderate of the three routes, climbs 1,600 feet over 3 miles.
The fire tower is considered a non-conforming structure in Wilderness Areas, however the state Adirondack Park Agency reclassified the land under the tower as Historic in 2010, a move the agency has made in numerous instances to allow fire towers to be restored.
“The tower was formally discontinued for use by DEC for its intended purpose in 1979. Even before being closed, the tower had been identified in the 1972 Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) as a non-conforming structure in a wilderness setting,” the DEC’s unit management plan for the tower reads. “In 2010, because of a growing recognition of the tower’s significance under the State Historic Preservation Act (SHPA), and in response to numerous public comments received by DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in support of the structure, the SLMP was amended and the land around the tower was reclassified to create the Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area, thereby allowing the tower to remain in its original location.”
The Friends of Hurricane Mountain has been restoring the tower since 2015, and the tower is now open to the public.