Silver Lake is a small community resting northwest of the village of Wilmington, along county roads, which ramble through the mountain country like a lazy river. With the hype of the High Peaks so close and in the shadows of the massive rocky expanse of Whiteface Mountain, it is seldom thought about to venture anyplace else. But what many visitors to our region don’t realize is the beauty that lies in the foothills just north of the Whiteface Mountain, and with a short drive of less that 30-minutes, you can be there.
The Village of Silver Lake is well known for its crisp blue waters of Silver Lake and the serene beauty of Taylor Pond. But what lies hidden in plain sight along foot trails are a bog, a bluff, and a mountain, peresentling excellent opportunities for hiking in the Adirondacks.
That’s easy, just locate the four-corners in Wilmington and drive northeast along Bonnieview Road (CR19). Continue to the end of the road to Silver Lake Road (CR17). Once there, turn left and drive toward Silver Lake. Stay on Silver Lake Road for just under 7-miles to Union Falls Road on the left. Follow Union Falls Road for 1.2 miles to Hawkeye Road on the left. Turn down Hawkeye Road for a short distance to the trailhead on the right.
This trailhead was built and is maintained by The Nature Conservancy. Entering the woods you will enjoy the quiet surrender of a tall growth forest with an attractive trail under your feet. The sounds of song birds will fill your ears and before you know it, you are at Silver Lake Bog. Through the bog a long boardwalk will guide you. Wetland wildflowers grow on both sides, butterflies get nectar from the sheep laurel, and painted turtles shuffle through the undergrowth. The boardwalk after a wet season can tend to become very slippery in areas, even with only rainwater, tread softly. Eventually the boardwalk will end, but the trail will continue.
You will now be on the foot trail to Silver Lake Bluffs. This well-developed trail will lead you through yet another section of quiet forest. The trail swings through a mixed forest and slowly starts to climb up along the hills. Near the end a slightly more serious ascent will bring you to the top of the bluffs high above Silver Lake to the south. Exploring along the top, herd paths will bring you to more interesting vistas.
Using the same directions as above will get you all the way there, except you won’t have to travel quite as far. Once you are on Silver Lake Road just continue for 5.7 miles to the trailhead on the right. This narrow trailhead entrance can easily be driven right past.
Starting up Silver Lake Mountain from the trailhead parking area you will start hiking along an old woods road that is almost completely disappeared and revived as a foot trail. The footing is a bit tough with loose rocks that will soon end once you leave the old road. When you leave the old road the terrain starts to get steeper and quickly comes to a slight lookout through the trees. Several smaller lookouts will welcome you along the way.
After a small relief in the trail and just prior to the summit there is a very steep section with lots of open rock. You can avoid the rock by taking the path near the trees on the left or scramble straight up the ridge. Along this section is where the best views will open up behind you. You will have views for the remaining distance to the summit, be sure to turn around occasionally to see more of them. The summit is partially open as you sit atop one of the larger peaks in the area. The long rocky ridge of Porter Mountain will be seen along the shoulder to the east.
Interested in more opportunities for hiking in the Adirondacks Whiteface Region, be sure to stop by a local bookshop and pick up a trail guide. Need a place to stay after you explore the regions foothills; Wilmington has tons of excellent places to rest your head.