Proper gear for a hike up Cobble Hill

Views of the Olympic Ski Jumps and the High Peaks from Cobble Hill (Photo provided)

Just because you can do something, doesn’t always mean that you should. The lucky part of living here is that my car acts like a sports shop. At any given time my trunk holds a few pairs of snowshoes, ice skates, a backpack, and some microspikes. What I keep in my car dictates the sport. If I don’t have the proper gear, I don’t do that activity. It is as much about my safety as it is about providing a good experience for anyone coming after me.

I’m always in Lake Placid running errands or waiting while my daughter finishes a class. I usually have a good hour to fit some sort of activity. If possible, I try to fit in a few activities that are all about me. Choosing one of the many easy area trails is always a great option. I gave up on the guilt years ago. Parents need playtime, too.

One favorite hike is to the summit of Cobble Hill. Located in the center of Lake Placid village, this hike has an elevation of 2,345 feet and a vertical ascent of 462 feet. I can easily finish it within my hour deadline. I check the conditions and opt for microspikes. After the recent rain, even if there is snow on the summit, the ice underneath is going to make for some slippery conditions.

The trail begins as an easy wooded walk with a short switchback with signs marked to Cobble Hill. At 0.3-miles, there is a junction with an old access road, the Easy Trail (1.1-mile) and the Steep Trail (0.4-mile). The two trails can be combined for a nice 2.25-mile loop.

I continue straight at the junction and take the 0.4-mile steeper trail. Time and time again I see people not properly equipped lured into taking the steeper, quicker trail. Though it looks manageable from the access road, the steep trail gains elevation quickly, with some rock scrambles near the summit.

Near the summit is a handy rope tied between two trees that makes scrambling over some icy spots more manageable. From there, it is a matter of maneuvering around ice to reach the first overlook. The northwest views of Lake Placid village and Mirror Lake are always a welcome site.

The microspikes were a necessity. The light covering of snow at the summit disguises the ice underneath. Heading east between rocks to the next clearing, I pass the junction with the Easy Trail. At the summit it’s a bluebird day with clear views of the ski jumps and the High Peaks to the south. I return the way I came, passing two families along the way. I urge them to return to the Easy Path instead of pursuing the Steep Trail. Without foot traction, it isn’t a safe option.

The trailhead to Cobble Hill is located at the Northwood School Mirror Lake Dr. entrance, between Northwood Road and Whitney Road trailhead parking is about 200 yards on the left. The trailhead parking area is clearly marked and the trail entrance is a few hundred feet toward the northeast.

Diane Chase is the author of the “Adirondack Family Activities” guidebook series, “Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities.” For more family-friendly activities go to www.adirondackfamilytime.com.

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