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.
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.
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.
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.
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.