Herkimer County High Point Trip Report

Date: October 7, 2001
Author: Fred Lobdell

Reference to the topographic map will be helpful in following this trip report. Attempting this hike without map and compass would border on the insane.

Access: Gary Fallesen gives good directions to the trailhead in his guidebook, so I'll just summarize the route here. From the exit for Forestport on NY 28 in Oneida County, go right (southeast) through the communities of Woodhull and Forestport Station. Watch for signs for North Lake Road; this is the one you want. Also, note the Buffalo Head restaurant on the right; this is a fine place to stoke your furnace after this long and somewhat arduous hike.

Continue generally east and northeast on North Lake Road until you get to North Lake. Immediately before the bridge over the Black River (the outlet for the lake) turn left onto a good-quality gravel road, which then follows the northwest shore of the lake for several miles. (Having the NY DeLorme along for this part of the trip is quite helpful.) According to Fallesen's guidebook, one should park at a public parking area near spot elevation 558.3, just south of a stream crossing. However, we found the gate open here and were able to drive another three-quarters of a mile to another large public parking area, just south of spot elevation 577.3. Beyond this point the road was gated.

Checking out a southern approach to this hike, in the hope of finding a shorter route, we ran into gated roads and private property postings that would have rendered this a longer hike, even if we had chosen to trespass. Our recommendation is to follow the guidebook directions.

Directions to summit: From the parking area, hike north, then east, passing over a stream on a good wooden bridge after about a third of a mile. Immediately after this bridge the road turns sharp right and heads southwest for almost a mile before swinging around to the southeast. After another half mile there will be a road going off to the right; this leads back to the posted area that we checked out as a possible approach. Ignore this fork and continue straight. Another half mile brings one to the first stream crossing, which required some rock hopping and could be a bit dicey at times of high water. On the east side of this stream the road deteriorates markedly.

Continue following the old road, which gets worse and worse, generally east for about another mile and a half, after which it seems to peter out altogether. Another stream crossing is shown in this stretch, but it's trivial. To your left front will be hill 744+, and on the outbound trek we bushwhacked up and over the shoulder of this hill. On the return trip we contoured around from the saddle between hill 744+ and hill 733, following another old road in places, and found this route to be superior.

From the saddle between these two hills, we made our way generally east, going over part of hill 733, and dropped down to the stream crossing and swampy areas shown to the north and east of this hill. From here it's a generally uphill bushwhack, over gentle slopes but uneven terrain, to the summit. Ideally, from hill 733 you want to hold a bearing of around 75 or 80 degrees. We passed over several small knobs that didn't show on the topo and eventually arrived at the summit area. Jeff got a reading of 818 meters on his altimeter, which is in pretty good agreement with the 822 meters shown on the topo. But I have to agree with Bob Packard, who said in his trip report that he felt "it wasn't a sure thing".

Our hike was enlivened by an inch or so of snow at the beginning to as much as 4 to 5 inches as we gained elevation. It was pretty wet stuff, but the temperature on our hike probably didn't get much above 35 degrees or so. The leaves were pretty much still on the trees and bushes, and I found it especially stimulating to get a clump of wet snow down the back of my neck, which happened several times as I grabbed a bush or sapling. But the snow did help our route-finding on the return trip, as we were able to backtrack ourselves for the most part. We were also the recipients of snow and ice pellets from above, but there was little accumulation of the new stuff. We did have sunshine for much of the hike, and as we were trying to hold a more or less constant bearing for most of the bushwhack, having the sun to steer by was helpful.

From where we were able to park, I would estimate that our hike was about 11 miles, round trip, with probably around 700 to 800 feet of elevation gain. About half the hike was a bushwhack. I would recommend not doing this one alone.