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Blog & VIDEO! Bald [Rondaxe] Mountain and Fire Tower: SUPER FUN Winter Tower Challenge Hike!

Blog & VIDEO! Bald [Rondaxe] Mountain and Fire Tower: SUPER FUN Winter Tower Challenge Hike!

MAD FUN HIKE! Bald [a.k.a. Rondaxe] Mountain and fire tower, located in the Fulton Chain Wild Forest area of Adirondack Park in New York.

In only a mile, you will experience pretty much everything the Adirondacks can throw at you!

The best part?!?! The crazy knife-edge ridges near the summit. Only without the two-thousand-foot drops like the mountaineering videos from the Himalaya and the Alps have haaahahaa!

Knife edge rock formation near the summit. FUN! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Knife edge rock formation near the summit. FUN! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

The OTHER best part?!?! We finally got to meet our friends over at Vermont Paddle Pups! They were coming down as we were heading up, so we stopped at this awesome overlook for a quick photo. So happy to meet our fellow bloggers and social media friends in person! Go see their trip report for even more information on this hike, and you’ll love their blog, especially if you hike and paddle with your dogs.

So awesome to meet our friends from the Vermont Paddle Pups blog on the trail! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
So awesome to meet our friends from the Vermont Paddle Pups blog on the trail! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

A few details, stats, and photos, then you can see it all in the Bald Mountain Fire Tower VIDEO, now live on our YouTube channel!

Bald [a.k.a. Rondaxe] Mountain and fire tower, Fulton Chain Wild Forest, Adirondack Park, New York – About the Hike: 

You may also enjoy our other Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge blog posts, and our Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge VIDEO PLAYLIST! We also recommend pairing this hike with Stillwater Mountain and fire tower, about 45 minutes away, for a really awesome day out! I have included all links at the end of this post if you want to read on and check them out later, PLUS information on our go-to resource for the most recent fire tower trail conditions, so read on!

The thirty-five-foot steel tower now standing on the mountain was built in 1917, replacing a wooden, twenty-foot-high observation platform built in 1912.The tower was one of the last to be closed by the state, in 1990, in favor of more modern fire fighting techniques.

Bald Mountain, or Rondaxe Mountain? Why two names? 

Nowadays it’s simply a preference. When the fire towers were in active service, there were two Bald Mountains, both with observation towers. The other Bald Mountain tower, in Northern Lewis County, is no longer standing.

According to their website, The Friends of Bald Mountain committee was formed in 2002 and the restoration of the tower officially began. Visit the FoBM website to learn more, donate, or volunteer to help with the ongoing efforts to maintain this amazing, unique, and beloved tower!

[source: Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore, The Southern Districts]

Endless views of the Fulton Chain of lakes and the mountains beyond. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Endless views of the Fulton Chain of lakes and the mountains beyond. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Such a gorgeous day to be out! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Such a gorgeous day to be out! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

Parking: 

Here are the GPS coordinates for the parking area:

43.7454639,-74.9010417 [LINK TO open in Google Maps here!]

This is a sizable lot, with a very noticeable, official DEC sign on Rondaxe Road, as you can see in the photos. I did not notice a privy at parking.

The sign for parking as you arrive on Rondaxe Road. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
The sign for parking as you arrive on Rondaxe Road. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
DEC signage for Bald Mountain trail head parking. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
DEC signage for Bald Mountain trail head parking. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Ample parking at Bald Mountain, but this is a popular hike, so go early! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Ample parking at Bald Mountain, but this is a popular hike, so go early! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

TRAIL USED:

There is only one trail option, an out-and-back hike. This hike is anything but boring!

Round Trip Miles: 2.0

Elevation Gain: 514 feet

Summit Elevation: 2,350 feet

The trail register is right at the edge of the parking lot, and we followed RED markers all the way to the summit:

Red trail markers on the Bald Mountain Fire Tower trail. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Red trail markers on the Bald Mountain Fire Tower trail. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
The trailhead and trail register are right at the edge of the parking lot. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
The trailhead and trail register are right at the edge of the parking lot. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

TRAIL DIFFICULTY:

This hike is short, but challenging. It begins ascending very soon into the hike. Over the course of the mile from trail head to summit, the trail alternates between tricky rock scrambles (ICY scrambles, in winter!) and lovely, almost flat walks through the forest. Because of the scrambles and some moderate height exposure, it may not be suitable for little ones. You know your child best, and I’ve done my best to document the challenges you will face in the photos and video. The summit is well worth the challenges! Just make sure everyone understands the hazards before you get on the trail.

SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS:

The trail was well marked and easy to follow at all times, although we took a wrong turn into the woods near the summit, see the photo. We followed the tracks going right, into the woods and off trail. Stay to the left, crossing those crazy looking rocks. That was FUN! But be careful!

There were a lot of tracks going right at this spot near the summit. Stay to the left, along the crazy looking ridge. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
There were a lot of tracks going right at this spot near the summit. Stay to the left, along the crazy looking ridge. It isn’t as scary as it looks! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

Pack a full emergency kit any time you venture into the mountains, with extra clothing and a cook kit for a hot meal or drink, and as a way to make water should you get stuck and run out.

We only needed MicroSpikes for our hike, although the Adirondacks received about three feet of snow since we were there! We have both snow shoes and spikes when we venture out in the Winter, and adjust accordingly as conditions warrant.

YESSSS ready for some Winter FUN! Our Tubbs Flex VRT snowshoes. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
YESSSS ready for some Winter FUN! Our Tubbs Flex VRT snowshoes. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Getting SPIKED right at the trail register. Microspikes are a necessity in the Adirondacks from early fall into late Spring. 3/19/2016: Winter hike-Azure Mountain Fire Tower, Debar Mountain Wild Forest, Adirondacks
Getting SPIKED right at the trail register. Microspikes are a necessity in the Adirondacks from early fall into late Spring. 3/19/2016: Winter hike-Azure Mountain Fire Tower, Debar Mountain Wild Forest, Adirondacks

There are some areas where extra caution is needed…

There are rock scrambles all along the one-mile trail, and near the summit there are some knife-edge rock formations – some with drops of a few feet, some a bit more.

There are rocky scrambles all along the trail that may be a bit too much for really little ones. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
There are rocky scrambles all along the trail that may be a bit too much for really little ones. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
There are rocky scrambles all along the trail that may be a bit too much for really little ones. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
There are rocky scrambles all along the trail that may be a bit too much for really little ones. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Cool knife edge without much exposure to heights. FUN as long as you're careful! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Cool knife edge without much exposure to heights. FUN as long as you’re careful! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Knife edge rock formation near the summit. FUN! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Knife edge rock formation near the summit. FUN! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Lots of cliffs at the summit, keep little ones close. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Lots of cliffs at the summit, keep little ones close. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

WILDLIFE

Black bears are always a possibility in the Adirondacks, of course less so in the middle of Winter but it can happen! Be aware and know what to do should you encounter a bear or any other wildlife.

STEWARDSHIP:

Please ALWAYS follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace, whenever you go outdoors, and wherever you go. We pack a trash bag and pick up what we find, within reason of course, whenever we go out.

Plan Ahead and Prepare
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Respect Wildlife
Be Considerate of Other Visitors

The Leave No Trace Seven Principles have been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org

Here is some GPS geek stuff from the hike!

Our GPS track from our Winter climb of Bald [Rondaxe] Mountain and Fire Tower overlaid on Google Earth.

GPS track overlay on Google Earth. Looks fun, right?!?! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
GPS track overlay on Google Earth. Looks fun, right?!?! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

GPS Hike Profile from our Winter climb of Bald [Rondaxe] Mountain and Fire Tower :

GPS profile of our hike. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
GPS profile of our hike. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

Here are some quick stats about our Winter climb of Bald [Rondaxe] Mountain and Fire Tower !

GPS stats from our hike. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
GPS stats from our hike. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

A few photos, then on to the VIDEO!

Window on the Wilderness. From the Fire Tower! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Window on the Wilderness. From the Fire Tower! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Shadow of the tower on the summit. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Shadow of the tower on the summit. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
EXCELLENT views of the Fulton Chain of Lakes! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
EXCELLENT views of the Fulton Chain of Lakes! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Shadow selfie with the Fire Tower. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Shadow selfie with the Fire Tower. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Loved these views and could have sat on the summit FOREVER. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Loved these views and could have sat on the summit FOREVER. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Day moon! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Day moon! 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Endless views of the Fulton Chain of lakes and the mountains beyond. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Endless views of the Fulton Chain of lakes and the mountains beyond. 3/5/2017: Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

Here’s the VIDEO!

You might enjoy pairing this hike with Stillwater Mountain and fire tower, about 45 minutes away, for a really awesome day out!

Or, see our other Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge blog posts!

We also have a playlist for our Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge VIDEOS!

About the ADK Fire Tower Challenge:

In all, there are 29 climbs on the official list: five in the Catskill Mountains, and twenty-four in the Adirondacks (you only need to complete eighteen of the twenty-four Adirondack towers to earn your patch for completing the challenge). Here is the official Fire Tower Challenge list, and more information about the ADK Fire Tower Challenge, if you are interested. There is also a Fire Tower Challenge group on Facebook, a great place to get the latest trail and access conditions from those who have recently done your planned hike. And – to share your photos and stories of your hikes, which is the best part!

WHERE TO FIND US:

Twitter: @IMFOutdoors

Facebook: It’s More Fun Outdoors

Instagram: @itsmorefunoutdoors

Pinterest: It’s More Fun Outdoors!

Or leave us a comment below!

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~Amy, Chris, and Dora

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