Catamount Mountain is surely one of the Adirondacks’ true gems. It is fairly popular, but it sees much less traffic than it should given the little effort it requires to reach its beautiful open summit. While the ascent is by no means a walk in the park, it is short and does have scrambling sections, making this a fun outing that will get the adrenaline flowing for most.
The trailhead is located on Forestdale Road and can accommodate over 20 cars. The trail is initially rather flat in an open forest of pine trees, and it’s not uncommon to come across some ski tracks. This mountain does not make for a good ski ascent, however, as it is too rocky.
After about 1 mile the ascent starts, and it is rather steep. It can get icy, and the trail is often on rock slabs or boulders, so good traction in addition to snowshoes is recommended. On the bright side, the first good views are reached quickly at the secondary summit. From there, the true summit is a mere 0.3 miles away with 350 feet of vertical ascent past a steep rocky section that includes a short chimney. As the bare rock can get icy, use caution in the climb and follow the yellow markers to stay on the trail.
From the summit of Catamount Mountain (3,169 feet), walking around will allow views in all directions. To the north, Taylor Pond and Silver Lake Mountain are prominent, while the Wilmington Range and the Whiteface area attract attention to the south.
The descent is via the same trail used for the ascent. It is as steep as the ascent was, so it goes without saying that being safe is important. You’ll want to make it down in one piece to pay this great gem another visit!
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.