There had been a notice in the paper saying the DEC had completed improvements on the trail to Jay Mountain. The trail is 2.5 miles from trailhead to peak and I had never hiked Jay, so I cut the article out and filed it away. Yesterday turned into the day to pull the article and hit the trail.
I like to get to the trailhead at dawn. I always allot myself 1 mile per hour for hikes, which is real conservative, but starting early and using that travel rate gives me a lot of options for the hike. There are times I want to amble, going off trail for a while to explore and there are times when I want to be able to see the highlights, have a meal at the peak and get back home to do family time.
The night before I assemble all the gear on the kitchen island with the exception of water so in the morning, I can throw everything into the backpack and head out the door.
I arrived at the trailhead at 8:30, about an hour after sunrise. There were no cars in the parking area, it was about 30 degrees and the sky was grey. The weather had predicted a chance of snow and I had driven through a bit of sleet/snow mix, so I was prepared for a dull, overcast day.
The trail started out and continued at a steady, moderate grade, always climbing, but not too strenuous. Don't get me wrong, it's not an easy stroll in the park!
One advantage to hiking after the leaves have fallen is you can see what the hike might be like when the trees are full. As I hiked along, it was clear that there would be few places to go off trail to get good views from overlooks. The first mile and a half, are in forest and it seemed the trail would be enclosed and in full canopy. To be sure, I'll try it out in a different season, but at least I know what to expect. At about this point, it becomes more of climb, still on a dirt trail.
Near the top, the trail splits, with the one with the trail markers going to the left and a short climb to a peak and the one to the right continuing somewhere. I checked my GPS and the one to the right lead to the official peak of Jay Mountain, so I headed right.
By this time, it was windy with a cold snow/sleet mix and I had to put my sun glasses on to stop the steady pelt from stinging my eyes.
This trail was unmarked, but visible, so no difficulty in following, with cairns as a guide. After a hike through a small col, I came to a wonderful overlook. I can only imagine what the valley will look like in full fall colors!
I continued along to the peak of Jay (3,600ft/1,097M) and spent a little time there. It was snowing too hard and too windy to get any pictures or spend any time, so I headed back to the split and up to that peak.
On this peak, I got a few good pictures (below) and decided it was a god place to eat lunch. Unfortunately, I could only eat the cheese and sandwich because everything else was frozen. Still, a good lunch. Shortly after I started to eat, I was engulfed in a snow squall with some pretty significant wind, making it time to head off the peak.
This is my favorite picture.
Heading down was fairly straightforward and uneventful, no photo opportunities, but I was a little stuck as the hose for my water bladder had froze, so I drank my orange juice.
Getting back to the car, I realized it was one of the very few hikes I've taken where I didn't see another human being. I like hiking alone, but do enjoy meeting other hikers on the way to exchange thoughts on the day or just say hello.
All-in-all a very nice hike, one that I will take again, both in the warm season and in the snow.