A Whiteface Region Trifecta: A fire tower peak, a ridge with a view, and a wetland

Some days you just have to take it easy and visit a few of the little things in life. Corenne and I started out our travels by swinging over to Black Brook, near Ausable Forks to visit a fire tower peak that surely doesn’t get much for visitors. Palmer Hill was that destination. Palmer Hill is a small fire tower peak which resides on private land but the access road is open to the public to walk. While not an overly exciting jaunt in the woods it was nice to see another fire tower.

The tower was built in 1930 under an agreement with DEC and the land owners, which was Witherbee, Sherman and Company. They gave the DEC the rights to use a 15 wide swath of land to access the summit, which is the current access road we hiked on this day. The fire tower, while still standing serves a different purpose now, as a cell tower. This tower was added much later than the other in the part as was used to supplement the tower on Whiteface (removed) and the tower on Pokomoonshine Mountain (still standing). Surely this tower would have outstanding views from the cab, but we were more than happy to just be able to visit the summit.

The tower was closed for a bit in the 1970’s giving ample time for people to vandalize the tower and cabin, and this vandalizing is what reason for the cabin to be removed.  However the tower opened once again for a while and a picnic area was designed, but the vandalizing continued. Now what you get to see today, rather than a great view from a tower is a tin wrapped base with cell tower antennae’s bolted to the cab and no substantial views to speak of.

Our walk up the road of roughly a quarter mile was nothing but a bit to stretch our legs and breathe in some fresh air. It appear that vandalizing the tower is a thing of the past and thankfully so, as it seems to be in good shape. According to AARCH.org; it is asked that you can observe the tower and walk the access road but please refrain from climbing on it or trying to access the stairs.

We were now off to visit the Silver Lake Bog and Bluffs. This trail is not all that far from Palmer Hill in Black Brook so we arrived there quite quickly. Not surprising on this damp, nearly spring day that the trailhead would be empty. But I didn’t suspect many would be wandering about in the early springtime bog. Similar to that in winter a bog this time of year doesn’t offer much for color and new life, but it won’t be long before the sheep laurel and pitcher plants will start to come to being. The nearly half mile boardwalk through the bog was like a greased corridor. A nice light coating of slime from the thaw and the damp weather made walking an interesting proposition; one for which I am sure I would managed better with different boots. The hard rubber of my cold weather hikers made stability a bit of a challenge. We didn’t hang around too long in the bog, but more of just passed through to get to the end of the boardwalk and the trail for the Bluffs.

The lack of snow and ice made the hike much easier but it was time for new boots. The trail doesn’t really ever get steep it’s just a nice gentle climb up to the bluffs. The trail ends with a decent view out over Silver Lake, but for better ones you would need to drop slightly down to a small rock lip. We didn’t drop down this time but rather did a bit of exploring. The bluffs are along a very long ridge to a high point about a quarter of a mile away and well defined herd path heads in that direction. Following the path we worked our way through the pine forest gaining several much better vantage points out over the lake and eventually of Taylor Pond gleaming with ice out over the horizon. There were so many fine views along the ridge it was hard to judge the best, but all were worth a longer look.

That concluded our day in the region, well once we got back to the car and stopped to the Candyman for our reward. Hopefully this little look into our day will give you a couple ideas of different adventures, especially if you have a half day to devote to natural well-being.     

Author:
Spencer Morrissey

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