During the winter months, McCauley is the center of the Old Forge community. The mountain is always busy with after school programs, live music and a variety of food specials in the lodge. It was a much different case a few weekends ago when Farah and I decided to hike the mountain.
Overgrown grass and a lack of cars in the parking lot may convince the unknowing that the resort is abandoned. Upon closer inspection though you’ll see the well-maintained and used mountain bike trails. The light construction at the base area is also a tip off that the biggest little mountain isn’t dead, just hibernating until winter.
Farah and I pulled into the empty parking lot a little after 6pm on a hot and muggy summer day. After spending the day on the Fulton Chain of lakes, we wanted to finish our day with a hike. We’ve done all the mountains around the Old Forge area and wanted to try something fresh.
Neither of us have hiked a ski resort in the summer so we thought it might be cool to check out one of our favorite slopes. Technically we hiked the Maple Ridge trail which starts in town, but we took a shortcut and started at the Lodge. We parked at the starting point for the mountain bike trails, and there were a bunch of obstacles for the bikers to play around. The set up looked fun, I started thinking about pulling my bike out of the basement while we began our hike.
We started our hike walking past the lodge and under the beautiful Hall Double. From there we were supposed to take the green trail Challenger, but I accidentally took the utility trail further left. About half way up I realized my mistake but we knew the trail would connect back so we continued on. The hike was moderate but the flies were challenging. We fought our way through and got back on the main trail to the opening which was bug free.
We approached the headwall of God’s Land, and went across the Challenger cat track. The mountain had laid out Adirondack chairs across the peak under the double. We posted up in the chairs and soaked it all in. The view was phenomenal and I never realized there was a lake right behind the lodge. I think of all the views near around Old Forge this may be the best.
After a while we headed to the viewing platform and played around with the binoculars. We watched boats lazily cross the lakes as the sun began to set. Content with our hike and tired of fighting off the bugs, we started to make our way down. We never saw another person on the hike and the quietness of the mountain was surreal. Hiking up McCaulay in the summer gave me an appreciation for the slopes we ski in the winter. A green is a lot steeper than you think it is, when you’re hiking up!