Having grown up in the Adirondacks you would think I would have done some winter hiking in my 31 years of life. But, I’ve spent much of my time in the winter in an ice rink, as a competitive skater, and now as a coach. I love hiking in the summer and fall, but I’ve never done a winter hike. I’ve seen the many gorgeous images throughout Instagram of snow covered peaks, but, to be honest, I don’t like being cold (I know, it doesn’t make sense) so a winter hike was something that never really crossed my mind. But I’ll try anything once. With that in mind, I set off for Mount Severance.
I drove to Schroon Lake from Lake Placid on a beautiful, sunny day. I stopped into 9 Mile Coffee Co. and grabbed a coffee and walked over to the lake to enjoy the view for a few minutes before heading out for my first winter hike. There were people on the lake ice fishing, snowmobiles parked by the gazebo, and others walking around Main Street checking out the shops and restaurants. The trailhead is on the outskirts of the town, and it only took a few minutes to get there from the center of town. I brought snowshoes, but it didn’t look like I would need them, so I strapped them onto a backpack and put my microspikes on.
The trail starts with a series of two tunnels to walk through that go under the highway. I thought that was really cool and something I’ve never seen on any of my other hikes so I was feeling really optimistic about my first winter trek. The trail starts fairly flat with a gradual incline, and as I was surrounded by snow covered trees with the sunlight peeking through, I couldn’t help but wonder how I had never tried this before. As the incline started to increase and I was realizing that hiking in the snow is a lot more of a leg workout, I remembered why I had never tried this before. I started to take off layers as I continued to climb closer to the summit. I knew I needed to wear layers going into this because, with the sun out that day, I knew I would get warm.
I started approaching what I assumed to be close to the summit. I could start to see through the trees a bit more, and it appeared that the end was near. I couldn’t have been happier. As I approached the summit, I got that feeling of excitement as I always do on any hike in anticipation of an awesome view. Mount Severance does not disappoint. It’s a great view overlooking Schroon Lake. To my right, I could see those tiny people ice fishing, and little snowmobilers going across the ice. If you keep going straight on the trail past the first overlook you end up on another side of the mountain overlooking Paradox and the mountains of Vermont. I enjoyed both views, but went back to the side overlooking Schroon Lake. I only came across one other hiker the whole time. Winter hikes are typically less crowded, but this was a surprise to me with the accessibility of this hike and the great view. My only complaint is that towards the bottom you can hear the traffic from the highway. But the view from the top makes up for it!
I hiked late afternoon, and was just a bit too early for sunset, but I imagine the alpenglow over the Vermont mountains would have been beautiful. I put all my layers back on for my descent. The way down, as always, was much faster and easier, and by the time I made it back to my car I could tell there was a beautiful sunset over Schroon Lake. Happy with my first winter hiking experience, I took my spikes off, and hopped back in my car. Severance was a great little hike, and I would like to try it in the summer and/or fall for a different perspective. It’s only 2.4 miles round trip so I think it was the perfect distance for a first timer. I think this would be a great family hike in the summer or fall. If you plan on trying it out, make sure to be prepared and Leave No Trace. And don’t forget to stop by some of the local dining options in town to refuel, or find a cozy lodging accommodation to rest your head on after a day of adventuring in the Adirondack Hub.