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Blog & VIDEO! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike, Blue Mountain Wild Forest, Adirondacks, NY

Blog & VIDEO! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike, Blue Mountain Wild Forest, Adirondacks, NY

What a most perfectly AMAZING day to climb to the fire Tower on Blue Mountain, located in the Blue Mountain Wild Forest area of Adirondack Park in New York.

Marshmallow trees and a sugar-frosted tower…one would think nothing could rival the incredible, otherworldly summit experience we had.

Not so! This hike gave, and gave, and gave some more. Every step was breathtaking.

A few details, stats, and photos, then on to the VIDEO!

A Winter Hike of Blue Mountain & Fire Tower, Blue Mountain Wild Forest, Adirondacks, NY – About the Hike: 

You may also enjoy our other Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge blog posts, and our Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge VIDEO PLAYLIST! I have included both links at the end of this post if you want to read on and check them out later.

Blue Mountain fire tower is a very popular hike, which for us, means Winter is the best time to go! While the parking area (smaller in Winter) was still fairly full on Superbowl Sunday, our Winter hikes of this mountain were far less crowded than our summer hikes.

The fire tower is not the only structure on the summit, it also boasts a communications tower, some power lines, and slabs from the cold war era radar facility that once operated there. The structures are buried in the snow and/or frosted over in the Winter, and so it all detracts much less from the amazing wonderland on the summit, in my opinion!

Enchanted forest. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Enchanted forest. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Sugar Frosted Fire Tower, WOWSERS! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Sugar Frosted Fire Tower, WOWSERS! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

BLUE MOUNTAIN AND FIRE TOWER – PARKING

Here are the GPS coordinates for the parking area, click to open in Google Maps!

N43° 52.470 W74° 25.843 

Parking becomes a bit tighter in the Winter due to the snowbanks. There were five or six cars including ours and not room for many more. Go early if you plan to try this hike, any time of year, the summer brings the tourists in droves as well.

The parking area at Blue Mountain. Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike February 5, 2017!
The parking area at Blue Mountain. Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike February 5, 2017!

BLUE MOUNTAIN AND FIRE TOWER – TRAIL USED:

We followed RED markers all the way to the summit. There is also a trail to Tirrell Pond at this parking area so be sure you take the correct trail! Signage was very clear.

The roadside DEC sign at the parking area. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
The roadside DEC sign at the parking area. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Signing in at the trail register! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Signing in at the trail register! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Red trail markers guide you to the summit. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Red trail markers guide you to the summit. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

BLUE MOUNTAIN AND FIRE TOWER – TRAIL DIFFICULTY:

This is a short hike, about two miles to the summit, but with 1,559 feet of elevation gain it can be quite strenuous. Allow plenty of time to get to the summit, AND as with many Adirondack trails, allow just as much time for descent. Not as much of an issue if you’re on a snowy winter hike, but in warmer weather this trail is quite rugged and the roots and rocks can slow you down a lot. In the Winter, it can get very icy, although this was not a problem for us on Sunday. I’ll get into what gear you need to be prepared for this mountain in a bit.

BLUE MOUNTAIN AND FIRE TOWER – SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS:

The trail to the Blue Mountain fire tower is well marked with red trail markers. It was also very well broken by previous snow shoers, a dream to 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.

A layering system is MUCH better than one heavy outer garment. Your activity level and the conditions will change frequently – stopping  for photos, climbing a steep section, windy summit, etc. You need versatility.

I sweat a lot when I’m active, so I prefer all synthetic layers. Pictured below are my tops, and as you go through the video you will notice different layers on and off. Pictured are my base layer and fleece mid layer which I always have on. Both are long sleeved and zippered: full zip on my fleece, quarter zip on my base layer. I use the zips constantly to manage moisture and temperature. Next is my synthetic insulation layer (super lightweight but warm, packable jacket) to trap heat on stops/summits. Down is great as well and I have a down jacket, but I just have better luck with synthetics for sweat management. Lastly, my waterproof/windproof shell for open areas with a lot more wind.

Notice ALL of my layers have hoods. I HATE fooling around with hats, and have actually lost one on a windy summit! Hoods are up and down and in different combos throughout my hikes with no fuss at all.

I do the same for the bottom except I wear my softshell pants, and base and midlayers at all times if temps will be below forty degrees. I do carry an insulated pant as well in my pack. With good wool socks, gaiters, and a balaclava, I’m ready for pretty much anything!

Layers of clothing for winter hiking: base, mid, insulation, and shell.
Layers of clothing for winter hiking: base, mid, insulation, and shell.

TRACTION AND SNOWSHOES

Both are a must to take along in winter. We were able to get all the way to the summit in snowshoes, and whenever possible, you should wear them to keep the trails safe for other hikers and skiiers. This is also for your safety. The rugged trail beneath the snow conceals voids. If you’re bare-booting along at a fast pace and punch through one of those voids, you can snap a leg very easily.

We use and LOOOOOVE Tubbs Flex VRT snowshoes. They are light, easy to operate even with gloves on, and they have super aggressive crampons for steep icy stuff. NOTE: We travel mostly well packed trails. I am not sure how these would perform in deep powder.

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!

We use Kathoola MicroSpikes for icy summits and cannot say enough good about them! These are in our packs (and needed!) from early October right on through late May.

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.

The fire tower on Blue Mountain was not just frosty, the steps had several inches of ice making traction an absolute necessity. Even with my Microspikes on, I only went maybe 2/3 of the way up.

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 climb of Blue Mountain overlaid on Google Earth.

Overlay of our GPS track on Google Earth. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike, February 5, 2017.
Overlay of our GPS track on Google Earth. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike, February 5, 2017.
Overlay of our GPS track on Google Earth. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike, February 5, 2017.
Overlay of our GPS track on Google Earth. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike, February 5, 2017.

GPS Hike Profile from Blue Mountain and Fire Tower:

Profile of our hike! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike, February 5, 2017.
Profile of our hike! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike, February 5, 2017.

Here are some quick stats about our Winter hike of Blue Mountain & Fire Tower!

Our hike stats! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike, February 5, 2017.
Our hike stats! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike, February 5, 2017.

A few photos, then on to the VIDEO!

Sadly, our camera batteries died on the summit except for one GoPro – and that was in time lapse mode as I climbed the tower. So I only have a couple of random, lucky shots from that, and my glove got into the frame as I was more focused on not falling off the steps! Sorry!

Snowy, frosty, icy tower stairs! If you attempt this tower, use traction and common sense. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike February 5, 2017.
Snowy, frosty, icy tower stairs! If you attempt this tower, use traction and common sense. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike February 5, 2017.
Lucky GoPro shot from my tower climb - unaware the camera wasn't in video mode :( Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike February 5, 2017.
Lucky GoPro shot from my tower climb – unaware the camera wasn’t in video mode 🙁 Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike February 5, 2017.
Lucky GoPro shot from my tower climb - unaware the camera wasn't in video mode :( Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike February 5, 2017.
Lucky GoPro shot from my tower climb – unaware the camera wasn’t in video mode 🙁 Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike February 5, 2017.
Lucky GoPro shot from my tower climb - unaware the camera wasn't in video mode :( Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike February 5, 2017.
Lucky GoPro shot from my tower climb – unaware the camera wasn’t in video mode 🙁 Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike February 5, 2017.
Alien trees, another world. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Alien trees, another world. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Summit Soup! This was heavenly! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Summit Soup! This was heavenly! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Breaking out the summit gear to stay warm! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Breaking out the summit gear to stay warm! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Our summit and the Fire Tower, WOWSERS! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Our summit and the Fire Tower, WOWSERS! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Frosty trees. One of a few areas of open sky, mostly we hiked through snowy tunnels! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Frosty trees. One of a few areas of open sky, mostly we hiked through snowy tunnels! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
The trees, bowing heavily with ice and snow, reminded me of something I'd see in Dr. Seuss. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
The trees, bowing heavily with ice and snow, reminded me of something I’d see in Dr. Seuss. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
So pretty here, even the tree trunks were frosted. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
So pretty here, even the tree trunks were frosted. Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
From sunshine to ominous overcast quickly, made for an otherworldly summit! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
From sunshine to ominous overcast quickly, made for an otherworldly summit! Blue Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

Here’s the VIDEO!

You may also enjoy our other Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge blog posts, and our Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge VIDEO PLAYLIST!

About the ADK Fire Tower Challenge:

In all, there are 30 climbs on the official list: five in the Catskill Mountains, and twenty-five in the Adirondacks (you only need to complete eighteen of the twenty-five 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

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Instagram: @itsmorefunoutdoors

Pinterest: It’s More Fun Outdoors!

Or leave us a comment below!

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