Prospect Mountain in Lake George is one of the more unique hikes in the area due to its history and the fact that the trail-head begins right in the town of Lake George. Starting on the western edge of the village at the end of Montcalm Street, the trail follows a path that was home to one of the largest cable railroads. The hike is only 1.5 miles to the 2,030 foot summit, but be warned, this is a predominantly uphill climb over rocky terrain and may not be suitable for some hikers.
After a short walk from the trail-head, a footbridge will take you over the Northway (I-87). This screened-in metal bridge is an experience all in itself. As cars and trucks speed underneath at 65+ mph those hikers who are a little squeamish about heights might not appreciate the grated metal footing. If your remedy for acrophobia is “don’t look down” this bridge will put that curative to the test.
Once on the other side you begin the accent. The trail follows the old train route up through a rocky trench. Footing can be unsure, especially during the fall months when wet leaves cover the ground. If you are looking for any hidden sights, veer left off the path after you leave the trench and you will come to an overlook of a peaceful, rolling creek.
The trail will then come to its first crossover of the Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway, a toll road that takes tourists to the summit during the summer. This reprieve from the vertical climb is brief as the path picks up again on the other side. From here on it’s a more typical Adirondack trail, though at times loose rock and slick surfaces can make the hike treacherous on your ankles.
For the bouldering enthusiasts, along the way there are some nice cliffs for the beginner to intermediate climber. They offer sections with easy, multiple grips as well as more sheer climbs. Be wary of crevices that can be hidden by leaves and foliage.
There is not much of a view until you reach the summit. Here you will find the remains of Prospect Mountain House Hotel which burned down in 1932, and part of the pulley system for the cable train. Picnic tables and grills dot the public park and lookout points are set up with pay-to-see telescopes.
The draw of Prospect Mountain is the 100 mile view it boasts. On a clear day you can see Vermont’s Green Mountains, New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Adirondack High Peaks, the Laurentians of Canada, the Catskills and the Berkshires. There is also a view of the southern tip of Lake George as well as the village of Lake George, though this is at times obscured by foliage.
Historians might like to know that at one time a small ski slope operated on Prospect Mountain in the 1930s. A 2,400 foot long J-bar ski lift took skiers to the top thanks to Fred Pabst, founder of Bromley, Vermont, and member of the family who created Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
One of the best parts of this hike is, once finished, you can walk right into town and settle in for coffee or hot chocolate at Cafe Vero or grab some food at any one of the numerous restaurants. Even though the entire trip is about three miles, your legs might appreciate the rest.
Directions: From I-87 take exit 21. Head North on 9N. Turn left onto Canada St. Travel approximately 1.5 miles into the village of Lake George. Turn left onto Montcalm Street. The trail-head is at the end of Montcalm.