Hiking Ampersand Mountain
The Ampersand Mountain trail, at only 2.8 miles one way, is a shorter climb than St Regis (see previous blog post) and it starts out with a long, fairly level teaser of a walk. But you pay for it because the trail climbs almost 1800 feet to the top compared to Regis's 1250 foot gain. It is quite steep for a mile or so. The trail used to be an eroded mess in some of the steeper sections but now there are many rock steps that are a great improvement. It's a pretty impressive job of trail engineering and also represents a lot of physical work. The final scramble up the rocks to the large bare summit rewards you with a magnificent 360-degree panorama. No wonder it is one of the “Saranac Lake 6er mountains!
One direction you see mountains the nearby Seward range of the high peaks and Long Lake far off in the distance. The opposite side view is dominated by the 3 Saranac Lakes - upper, middle and lower. It is definitely one of the best payoffs for a relatively short, but admittedly hard at times, climb. On the opposite side of the road from the trailhead there is a half mile path leading to Middle Saranac Lake and a sandy beach. I've never been on this but I've read it would be a good spot for a post-climb swim. I've snowshoed up Ampersand a couple of times and those steep downhills made for some exciting and fast trips down the mountain. Find the trailhead by driving south on route 30 to the junction with route 3. Turn left on 3 heading toward Saranac Lake and go 7.1 miles to the parking turn off on the left. The trail begins on the direct opposite side of the road.