A conservation easement has re-opened the trail to the old fire tower on Loon Lake Mountain which is located in the 122,100 acre Debar Mountain Wild Forest in the northeastern Adirondacks along the old NY 99, now known as County Route 26. The three mile trail follows woods roads and the old steep trail to the fire tower. This hike has an overall elevation gain of 1651 feet, with nearly 1200 feet of elevation gain coming during the final steep mile of the trail.
The 35 foot fire tower is one of the many Fire Towers in New York State that were built to combat forest fires across the state, especially in the Adirondacks. The fire tower has had its lower steps removed and is in need of renovation. It is not recommended to try climbing the old tower. The information below is based on the hike we did to this fire tower in late September 2013. If there is a discrepancy, please contact us so we can fix it.
A new parking area was created in August 2013 along old NY 99 aka County Route 26, about 0.6 miles north of the newly built Grass Pond accessible boardwalk and parking area. The trail is marked with round yellow DEC Trail plastic markers. We recommend you use your hiking sticks, especially for the slippery and steep stretch near the summit. The trail begins in the left corner of the parking area (elevation 1680 feet) and quickly reaches a kiosk and trail register.
Soon after the kiosk you will reach a woods road. Turn right here and follow the woods road. Be sure to remember this turn on your trip back as the marking isn't the best. There are NO trail markers as you walk the woods road. As you cross a meadow and along a rocky stretch of the road, look to your left and up the mountain. You might notice the fire tower in the distance. This is the Loon Lake Mountain Fire Tower, your destination on this hike.
At 0.25 miles you'll see a DEC trail arrow sign telling you to turn left off the woods road and back onto a hiking trail. You will see the yellow discs again. You might notice crossing old logging roads as you walk this stretch of trail. At 0.55 miles you reach another woods road (elevation 1725 feet) and turn right to follow the woods road. Again you will see no yellow markers as you begin to climb, following the woods road. You'll see a view behind you as you climb.
At 1.35 miles turn left off the woods road to follow an old logging road (elevation 1990 feet). There is a DEC trail arrow sign here. As you climb the old logging road you'll start to notice the yellow markers again. The rest of the trail has yellow markers all the way to the fire tower. At 1.45 miles you'll see the fire tower on the mountain on your right. At 1.55 miles there is a small "pull off" that gives you one last view of the fire tower until you reach the top as well as a view of Debar Mountain.
At 1.75 miles the trail veers right (elevation 2172 feet) and levels off briefly. At 1.9 miles reach the first of a number of old bridges. You'll see small cascades on your left from this bridge. The trail becomes a narrow hiking trail after crossing the first bridge. The trail now becomes steeper and steeper, with the final push following a moss covered rocky small stream that is not only steep, but also very slippery.
At 2.85 miles look behind for a bit of a view (elevation 3279 feet). You are nearly at the summit. At 2.95 miles reach the fire tower and the 3328 foot summit of Loon Lake Mountain. There are numerous views from the open areas on the summit. You should be able to make out Whiteface Mountain in the distance. Look below for directions, a few pictures, a trail map and a video featuring this six mile round trip hike.
Directions: From Saranac Lake take NY 3 EAST to County Route 26. Turn left on County Route 26 and drive nearly eight miles to the parking area, which is on your left marked with a DEC sign. Note that the road will become rough (although paved) after passing an old railroad bridge soon after the small hamlet of Loon Lake. The GPS coordinates for the Loon Lake Mountain parking area is N44 35.135 W74 07.476 for those who have a GPS devise. We are unsure of snow plowing on this stretch of County Route 26.
Mileage Round Trip
Approximate Round Trip Time
Family with Young Children: 4 to 4.5 hours
Seasoned Hiker: 3.5 to 4 hours
Inexperienced Hiker: 4 to 4.5 hours
The "trail head" to Crusher Mountain is really just a small grassy clearing at the end of Mensink Road with some ribbons that start at the right side of the clearing and lead to the top. From Camp Loony, it is about a 45 minute hike and is suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities. There is a short section towards the top that is a little steep but take it slow and you should have no problem. There is an amazing view of the lake and surrounding mountains so this quick hike is well worth it!
For free, no reception necessary, map apps for trail planning and use on the trail itself visit the link below.
Available for iPhone and Android – Download Adirondack Trails App
Get all the info you need for hiking, biking, paddling, camping and fishing in NY’s breathtaking Adirondack Park, without reception! (requires wi-fi to download)
The app comes loaded with hundreds of suggested hikes, road and mountain bike rides, paddling waterways and suggested fishing spots, with plenty of places to camp, grab a bite to eat, rent some equipment, experience some culture or luxuriate at more comfortable accommodations. Try our new tracking feature – we’ll capture your hike, ride or paddling route, along with times, distance and peak elevation. Export your saved route to your PC and view on Google Earth or share with your friends.
Or try our new High Peaks search. Just tap the peaks icon, then display peaks by name or elevation. Tap the desired peak and view on the map.
In addition to the majority of 46er high peaks, we’ve also included over 1,800 miles of NY DEC trails and several herd paths in the high peaks region. Hiking trails range from easy to challenging, biking ranges from scenic road biking loops to more challenging mountain bike trails. A variety of still and whitewater experiences await you. Looking for an outdoor concert, farmers market or fun family activity? Check out our new Events display feature.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, you don’t need reception to access and use it. Tap a trail pin to view the included PDF docs with trailhead info, length, difficulty level, elevation profile and description of the experience or where to access each waterway and if carries are required. You can even view the accompanying maps in Street, Satellite and Topographical View. Enable GPS on your phone and check your location relative to the trail or where you want to be for lunch.
Here’s a summary of the features you get in the Adirondack Trails app:
* Attractive, easy-to-use interface
* Display map data based on your personal recreation interests (hiking, herd paths, road biking, mountain biking including the Black Fly Challenge, Paddling, Fishing, Parking/Trailheads, Waterfalls)
* Includes detailed PDF documents with everything you need to know
* High Peaks search by name or elevation
* Includes information about local businesses, attractions and events
* Does not require a connection once downloaded
* With reception, can sync with website to get latest data or display the weather
* Optional current GPS location display
* Breadcrumb track your adventure or mark waypoints to remember a favorite spot
* Includes comprehensive information for 96 hiking trails, 65 biking trails and 30 paddling waterways (still and white)
* Shows locations and names for 1,396 DEC campgrounds, primitive campsites and lean-tos in the Adk Park
* Over 1,800 miles of additional NY DEC trails
* App is a no-reception-needed mobile version of ADKTrailmap.com
REMEMBER: Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life. Please be prepared.