In a pre-COVID-19 world, how many of us can honestly claim we hiked through the woods or camped in the mountains regularly? No, a phone game involving the two does not count. It’s safe to say that many of us today live in cities, surrounded by skyscrapers, boutique coffee shops and mass transit options.
New York is actually an unexpected answer to the age old question: how do I get outdoors more? New York City is brimming with opportunities, from the skyscrapers we know and love to gaze up at to $1 pizza places on every corner. But we’re not talking about the Big Apple. We’re talking about Upstate New York, where the mountains are taller than the city’s skyscrapers by far, where the people tip their hat and say “Morning” even if they don’t recognize your face, where apple pie moonshine is available if you know the right person.
Exploring the majesty of Sleeping Beauty
Now, with nature calling your name, don’t rush. You won’t make it very far on, say, the Appalachian Trail, which spans over 160 miles through the New York and New Jersey regions alone. Instead, let’s set our sights on Sleeping Beauty Mountain in Fort Ann, New York, near Lake George. Depending on the route you take, it’s a relaxing hike ranging between 5 to 7.5 miles.
Wow! You’re probably thinking to yourself, “7.5 miles is a lot of walking!” It is, yes. But in the grand scheme of things, Sleeping Beauty is nothing more than a day hike.
The trail is known for its scenery, including beautifully lush forests, calm lakes and soaring mountaintops stretching as far as the eye can see. But the path isn’t completely uphill. Sleeping Beauty is known for its relaxing inclines and switchbacks at the top. Your ankles won’t burn, and your sneakers won’t fall apart after the trip.
Notable waypoints along Sleeping Beauty
There are six waypoints on the Sleeping Beauty trail – the parking lot, Dacey Clearing, Trail Junction, Overlook, True Summit and Bumps Pond. For the sake of wonder, we’ll focus on three notable waypoints:
- Overlook – The entire point of your hike lies at the Overlook. From here, if you turn your attention to the south, you’ll look over an expanse of wooded hillsides. If you’re lucky enough, on a clear day, you’ll spot a glimpse of Lake George to the west.
- True Summit – Don’t stop at Overlook! If you continue your journey a bit further, you’ll reach True Summit, which is the very tip of Sleeping Beauty. The area is wooded and breathtaking, so commit some time at the top.
- Bumps Pond – If you continue along the trail, you’ll round Bumps Pond, with its calm waters and shady banks. If you don’t mind a few critters, it’s the perfect locale for a snack or a rest before you wind your way back down to the parking lot.
Tips for tackling Sleeping Beauty in one hike
Whether you’re a novice or an old pro at hiking the outback of New York, Sleeping Beauty presents a few challenges that benefit from thorough planning and preparedness. Here are a few tips to ensure your hike is satisfactory from start to finish.
- Plan your route – Before you step foot on the trail, plan your route. Most folks start from the Hog Town Trailhead, which is east, past the Queensbury Country Club.
- Wear appropriate footwear – You may normally be sure-footed, but after even slight rain, it’s common for the trail to grow quite muddy in some spots. So wear appropriate footwear that won’t slip.
- Watch out for rattlesnakes – A quick warning to the inexperienced hiker – rattlesnakes are commonplace in Lake George’s mountains. You’re not guaranteed to spot one, but keep on the lookout all the same.
- Don’t forget the bug spray – During the warm summer months, it’s not uncommon to be inundated by flies and mosquitoes. Alleviate the itch and annoyance with a can of bug spray of your choosing.
- Beware the crowds – If you’re not a people-person, Sleeping Beauty may not be your cup of tea. During the busy season during the summer and fall, you’ll notice plenty of passersby along the trail when it’s a bit cooler. Some spots along the trailhead become crowded quickly.
Also, do we even need to mention the need for a camera? Sure, it’s a tip, but one most people are sure not to forget. Once you’re at the peak, snap a few photographs for your scrapbook or your social media. You won’t regret the extra few pounds in your pack.
Well, there you have it, the majesty of Sleeping Beauty in Fort Ann, New York. Whether you’re an avid hiker or your interest has only recently peaked, Sleeping Beauty is a fantastic start to a lifetime of adventures on the trail.
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