Bear Den Mountain is one of those hidden peaks that gets very little attention, but should be high on everyone’s list to check out. It’s located above the Ausable River and is essentially part of the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area. While no ski trails actually traverse the peak or really even mark its face, it still lies above the valley within the boundaries.
Primary Trailhead: From the intersection of Route 73 and Route 86 in Lake Placid, follow Route 86 toward Wilmington. Continue for 9.2 miles to the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center. Turn into the center and follow the road around to the right and to the Bear Den Lot.
This is a 2.25 mile hike, one way, over mixed terrain. At the Bears Den Lot in the ski area the trail is located to the north side of the parking lot. This trail is also designated as a mountain biking trail so the possibilities are there. The trail flows along the hillside through a rough area that can be very wet. After 0.5 miles, the Bear Den Mountain Trail goes left, as the bike trails continue straight ahead. The Bear Den Mountain Trail from this point on is a foot trail that is generally plain, but does require some care to follow.
The trail starts off fairly easy but soon steepens and remains so to a saddle at the crest of the ridge at 1.6 miles.
Heading left you will remain in the trees a bit longer before breaking out onto an open rock ledge with amazing views with more views on a second summit. Heading right from the col you will again remain in the trees and start a climb that is much steeper with rocky outcropping and eventually a rock scramble near the summit. This summit is actually taller than the one marked as the true.
4.5 mile hike, round-trip. Elevation: 2,650 feet
See our blog post about hiking Bear Den Mountain.