Castle Rock at Blue Mountain Lake, NY

Castle Rock rises five hundred feet above the north shore of Blue Mountain Lake in the Central Adirondacks — a jagged peak at the end of a short but steep hike, that starts at the end of Maple Lodge Road.

view of Blue Mountain Lake from Castle Rock

We learned of the Castle Rock hike through Kids on the Trail! — a guidebook recommended in an NYSkiForum thread we posted looking for recommendations on kid-friendly hikes. In our first experience with the book, we found it, for the most part, well organized and easy to use.

Over the last few years, as our now five-year old daughter has gotten more able and interested in hiking, we’ve tried to seek out short rewarding hikes, that would get her excited about walking in the woods.

Castle Rock is a popular destination. When we signed the register, several groups had signed in over the last few days and all were headed up to the little cliff. We ran into some larger groups on the trail.

The hike starts our on dirt road, and then quickly turns onto a trail that was also obviously a road in the recent past. The guidebook implies that the hike itself is unremarkable, and the primary reason for making the hike is the view at the top. But we found plenty to interest us, including swamps, bridges, a creek, and roots and boulders to navigate.

caves on the trail

As you get close to the top, the trail winds around and actually heads back downhill for a long enough stretch to give you pause, if you aren’t closely watching a map. You approach the rocky outcrop from the rear, and there are some caves that should interest young children.

cracks in the boulders

As you get close to the top, the incline gets very steep, and the trail takes advantage of some fun cracks in the boulders. As promised the views are expansive and definitely worth the effort.

view from Castle Rock Blue Mountain Lake

According to the Kids! Guidebook, the whole hike is 4.0 miles round trip, and 640 feet in elevation gain. Barbara McMartin has it at 3.6 miles and 420 of elevation gain. Either way it’s a long hike with a five year old. I must say that Neve was maxed, but she came through.

10 comments on “Castle Rock at Blue Mountain Lake, NY

  1. All the effort you two are putting in now will be well worth it when she gets older. Neve will probably have a deep love for the outdoors and will thank both of you for making the time to foster it. Way to go!

  2. Let me get this straight… if we take Neve hiking 3-5 times a year on summer vacation she’s going to rebel? I think that’s a risk we’re going to take. In reality, far more likely that skiing 20x a year will do it. In all seriousness, if she doesn’t want to go we won’t take her. She had been saying all week that she wanted to climb the Balm of Gilead cliffs but then on Sunday, when we had a few hours, she said she wanted to hang out, so we did. And you’re right RMark it is fun.

  3. Just yankin your chain. You are great parents and I am sure that the experiences you offer her will open her mind and body to craving the outdoors, just like you do.

  4. She’ll rebel that’s for sure you just hope if you lay the groundwork now when she’s in her twenties she’ll wake up and realize you guys weren’t total idiots after all!

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