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Owl's Head's trail winds along rocky ledges, offering big sky views.  (Photos:  Brian Mann)
Owl's Head's trail winds along rocky ledges, offering big sky views. (Photos: Brian Mann)

Owls Head offers big views for a small climb

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Sometimes on a hot summer day, you want to get outdoors without taking on a full-blown expedition. The North Country has a wealth of great, short hikes and climbs, and one of the best is Owl's Head in the Adirondacks.

It's that rocky knuckle that you see when driving through the Cascade Lakes, heading toward Keene Valley. From the crown you get a view that will rival any in the High Peaks. Brian Mann set off on a lunchtime hike earlier this week and sent back this audio postcard.

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Big slabs like this one are a draw for rock climbers.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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“It is a hot, steamy summer afternoon in late July, and much too hot for a really long hike,” said Brian Mann. He decided to go on a quick scramble up Owl’s Head outside of Keene. He said that it was the perfect day for the sort hike, with a breeze blowing through the trees and the rocks bathed in a dusty summer light.

“There is no better view in the Adirondacks for this little effort. Even from where I’m standing now, I’m looking up across a face of rock and there’s just this lovely blue sky and clouds tumbling past,” said Mann. He says that this is a climb that hikers can do in about 40 minutes, up and back, though more time is warranted for the views and, when they’re in season, for the blueberry bushes. “As you climb, your face is kind of down close to the trail, and you can smell the sun and the earth,” he said.

When he reached the top, Mann said, “It is just a crown of blueberry bushes here, not very productive this year, but in addition to that there’s really a 360 degree view. With just a few steps, you can find different outlooks that really allow you to see down into Keene Valley and back up through the Cascades, off toward Lake Champlain. It’s really a remarkable spot and again, just a really tiny climb for one of the biggest pay-offs in the park.”

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