Minerva is a little-known town in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains near Gore Mountain and is a nature lovers' paradise. The town is named after Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, and after reading this blog, you will feel wise that you know about this hidden gem. The Hudson River forms the southwesterly boundary of the town, with 15 miles of its course forming the town boundary. About 15 miles of the Boreas River is also within the town. These 30 miles of pristine river are surrounded by state land, which makes up 64.5% of all the land in the town. With so much state land available, it's no surprise that Minerva has some fabulous hiking opportunities.
1. Blue Ledges
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 597 feet
How to get there: From the intersection of Route 9 and Hoffman Road in Schroon Lake, follow Hoffman Road (CR24). Continue on CR24, which eventually turns into Irishtown Road. Take a right onto O’Neill Road, just over 11 miles from Route 9, and a left onto Longs Hill Road (CR24A). This will bring you to Route 28N in Minerva in roughly 2 miles. Take a right onto Route 28N for 2.5 miles to Northwoods Club Road on the left. Follow Northwoods Club Road for 6.5 miles to the Blue Ridge Trailhead parking on the right.
This hike leads to a horseshoe bend on the Hudson River with towering views of Blue Ledges, iconic cliffs that rise 200 feet overhead. During the rafting season, Blue Ledges is a mid-day stop (usually between 11-2) for many of the area's whitewater rafting companies that operate on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. The scene is very energetic. You can see rafts in every color go down the river, which look like a bunch of Skittles. If you want a more tranquil hike, avoid Blue Ledges on those days or avoid a mid-day arrival to the Hudson River.
2. Moxham Mountain
Distance: 5.5 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 1152 feet
How to get there: Take NY 28N out of North Creek toward Minerva. That major rock mountain on your left as you're driving along NY 28N is Moxham Mountain. In Minerva, turn left on 14th Road. Follow 14th Road to the end of the pavement and another 0.2 miles along the dirt road to the small parking area on the left or right. The trail starts from the parking area on the left.
This hike ebbs and flows from rocky and rooty terrain to short climbs and descents, so the trail is engaging but not daunting. After the first half mile, you will reach the first of a dozen overlooks that become more frequent from here. These rock ledges make perfect stops along the way. The last lookout point before the summit has amazing views of the wetlands and ponds of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness and Gore Mountain. The final climb to the summit is a steep quarter of a mile, but the view of the Hudson River is worth it. In addition to the beautiful view, look for the geological survey marker embedded in the summit. If you look closely, you will notice the mountain is labeled as "Maxam" instead of Moxham.
3. Vanderwhacker Mountain
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 1686 feet
How to get there: From North Creek, take NY 28N West for 16 miles. Immediately after the highway crosses the Boreas River, there is an unmarked gravel road on the left. Take this road for 2.6 miles to the point where it splits. The dirt access road to the trailhead is rough in spots, so it is best driven with a high-clearance vehicle (like a pickup truck) or slowly with a low-lying car. Alternatively, park off NY 28N at the pull-off on the right just before the bridge. This adds 2.6 miles to the trailhead.
The trail is marked with red disks and begins with a gradual elevation change as you cross small creeks and pass around wetlands. At around 1.5 miles from the trailhead, old fire observers' cabins come into view. From here, the trail increases in difficulty and requires a steady climb of 1,200 feet over the course of 1.3 miles. After that, the elevation is more moderate as you approach the fire tower. Once at the top, climb the stairs to the top of the fire tower and take in the striking panoramic views.
After your hike, don't miss out on the opportunity to go for a swim or have a picnic at Donnelly Beach. Quench your thirst with the locals at Sporty’s Iron Duke Saloon, a classic biker bar, or grab a snack at Sullivan’s Store in Olmstedville.
Love Your ADK
The Adirondacks are a special place with millions of acres of pristine forests. It is up to us to keep it that way. Please help protect the Adirondacks and be prepared when you hike by following Leave-No-Trace ethics and consider taking the Love Your Adirondacks Pledge to help ensure that the forests, waterways, and local communities remain beautiful and unique for generations to come.
1) Plan ahead and prepare
2) Stay on hiking trails and camp at designated areas
3) Dispose of human waste and trash properly (pack it in, pack it out)
4) Leave what you find
5) Minimize campfires
6) Respect wildlife
7) Respect other hikers and manage your pet