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Northeastern Adirondacks Jay Mountain Wilderness
Hiking in Adirondack Park
Northeastern Region
Jay Mountain Wilderness


Jay Mountain

 

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Jay Mountain features one of the best open ridgeline hikes in the Adirondacks, with it's 1.5 mile open ridge with spectacular 360 degree views.  It's ruggedness and remoteness truly gives hikers the feel of wilderness hiking, especially away from the crowds of the popular High Peaks region.  The Jay Mountain Wilderness, at 7951 acres, is the smallest Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park and is located in the northeast portion of the Adirondacks within the Towns of Jay and Lewis in Essex County.

Jay Mountain at 3600 feet is the second highest mountain in Jay Mountain Wilderness, however with it's long open, rocky ridgeline, it is the most prominent feature in this area.  Saddleback Mountain is the highest mountain in this wilderness at 3615 feet and requires a very difficult bushwhack to reach it's open summit.  Severe forest fires swept through the lands now part of the Jay Mountain Wilderness in 1908. The numerous rock outcrops, open ridgeline and stands of white birch that are common in this wilderness area are a result of these fires.

Originally a steep and eroded herdpath led hikers to the ridgeline of Jay Mountain.  In the fall of 2012, NY DEC opened a new 2.5 mile hiking trail that travels to the Jay Mountain ridgeline.  The new trail bypasses the steep and eroded sections of the old herdpath.  The NY DEC issued a press release in October 2012 that stated "The new Jay Mountain trail is safer and easier to hike and will allow more people to hike to the summit and enjoy the views."

The NY DEC contracted with the Student Conservation Associationís Adirondack Program and the Adirondack Mountain Clubís Professional Trail Crew to build the new hiking trail with DEC staff. The trail work was funded by the Environmental Protection Fund as well as a donation from ADKís Hurricane Mountain Chapter.

The Jay Mountain Trail starts at a new trailhead at the intersection of Jay Mountain Road and Upland Meadows Road in the town of Jay. The new trailhead is located on State Lands about 100 yards downhill from where the old herd path entered the woods and offers parking for about five cars.  This new trailhead was constructed by the Town of Jay Highway Department, with additional work by inmate crews from the Department of Correctional Services Moriah Shock Camp and DEC staff.

After hiking the 2.5 mile trail to the ridgeline, a short spur on the left leads to a spectacular overlook with 360 degree views. The High Peaks, Whiteface Mountain, Ausable River Valley, Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains of Vermont can be viewed from this overlook. Now you'll have a decision to make. Turn back down the mountain or continue along the mostly open ridge, following rock cairns, for another 1.5 miles to the 3600 foot summit of Jay Mountain.

Be sure to have supplies and be prepared for inclement weather or windy conditions on the open ridge.  There are few sheltered spots on the ridge of Jay Mountain.

For more information on this great hike get the guide book Discover the Northeastern Adirondacks.

Directions:

From Upper Jay take County Road 85 (just south of the Ausable River bridge).  At 2.6 miles reach the intersection of Glen Road, CR 85 now becomes Jay Mountain Road.  At 3.4 miles reach the intersection of Upland Meadows Road and the new parking area for the Jay Mountain Trail.  This road is paved.

Look below for a map of this hike from the NY DEC. 

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Northeastern Adirondacks Jay Mountain Wilderness

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