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The Tongue sticks out --- 9/2/16

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  • The Tongue sticks out --- 9/2/16

    As I was planning my hike for this past Friday I was hoping to stay clear of the early holiday weekend crowds. I ended up settling on the northern reaches of the Tongue Mountain Range on Lake George and was not disappointed as I nearly had Brown and Five Mile Mountains all to myself. There were only another half dozen people that I saw all day - three on my way in who were walking out, and three on my way out who were walking in. All were within a quarter mile of the trailhead. The rest of the day I was the only person on the trails. The day was sublime. The weather was gorgeous and the hike was relaxing and peacefully quiet through beautiful open forest.

    The trail to Brown and then Five Mile has gentle grades. No real steep sections to speak of. From the parking area on Rte 9N you head south and quickly cover the 0.75 miles to the Deer Leap trail junction. I headed southwest toward Brown. I had been to Deer Leap in the past and found the view to be uninspired so I did not include a return trip there in my plans for Friday. The mile long trip up Brown also goes rather quickly and soon you reach an overlook just south of the trail near the summit. The trees are grown in but you can see slivers of views through them down into Lake George. The summit is a few hundred feet north of the trail and about twenty feet higher. No views from there either but there is a clear high point atop a rock that I assumed was the summit. There aren't any markers to indicate this but I was within a few feet of my GPS fix and it certainly appeared to be the high point.

    Continuing southwest another 0.75 miles along the ridge toward Five Mile Mountain the trail eventually enters the cairn field. There's a fair amount of totally unnecessary cairns built along the very obvious trail for several hundred yards. They're a pleasant distraction but of no use to any hiker. A short climb then brings you to the lean-to. What I imagine was once a commanding view to the north is mostly grown in now but there is a big enough gap in the trees to enjoy a decent view. The trail continues southwest within inches of the lean-to then a few small ups and downs and few switchbacks over the next mile puts you just below the summit of the mountain. You have to bushwhack steeply west off the trail maybe 200 feet and head up about 40-50 feet to reach the summit. The high point is pretty obvious. From this small open area there are obstructed views. I had read there was an excellent panoramic view from Five-Mile but it sure wasn't from the summit! So down I went off the summit another 150 feet further west until I found a ledge with a great view to the southwest and west. A few pine trees partially obstructed what otherwise was a fantastic scenic vista.

    On the descent I went off-trail a few times looking for views through spots where the trees opened up a bit but never found any that were worth the trouble. Admittedly, I was a little bit nervous on these short bushwhacks. Not always seeing exactly where I was placing my feet was concerning since Tongue Mountain is home to timber rattlesnakes. In retrospect this was probably stupid and I wouldn't recommend following in my footsteps if you ever hike here. Fortunately, I did not step on any rattlesnakes, but unfortunately, I did not see any. I really would have liked to seen one.... at a safe distance. There are plenty of open rocky areas along the trail where I hoped to see the rattlers sunning themselves but I had no luck in that regard on this day.

    So to sum up... a great day out. Somewhere over seven miles and 1800 feet of cumulative elevation gain on this short and easy hike. The Tongue sticks out... in a good way.

    Pics from the hike...

    Start here...


    The glorious summit of Brown Mountain...

    Cairn, cairn, everywhere a cairn...


    View through the trees from the lean-to. For some reason it looked way better in person...

    The summit area of Five Mile Mountain...

    Panoramic view from the ledge about 150 feet from the summit...

    Other views form the ledge...

    Last edited by Makwa; 09-07-2016, 12:10 PM.

  • #2
    Beautiful trails in there, though I prefer that hike in colder weather when the snakes are sleeping.


    • #3
      me, too, BillB. Did the loop in two day hikes this past March. It was wonderful. Temps were in the 60s, but it was dry and windy and no rain, so there was a danger of fire.


      • #4
        Nice report. Did a traverse of the Tongue range back in Feb, spotting a car at each lot. Beautiful trails, there are more open summits and better views as you go further SSW.
        A hiking friend goes up there frequently. He said he sees a rattler about once every five trips, on average.
        ADK 46er 7350W
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