Hiking Catamount in Wilmington (free Adirondack trail map)

At the false summit (overlook) of Catamount
My daughter is always worrying about my allergic reaction to cats. She is like the town crier when we visit friends letting each and every person know that she can’t have one because it makes her mother sneeze. I appreciate both my children being on the look out and so far being able to resist the urge to take home those offers of free kittens. Cute and fuzzy, warm and cute, cats are part of an ongoing conversation of animals to have, along with monkeys and unicorns.  

We drop my son off with friends while the rest of the family hopes to reach the summit of Catamount. We have a time limit so it is not going to be a meandering pace. Long gone are the days when she would bring a backpack full of stuffed animals to share her lunch. Now we search for other wildlife. The name of the mountain is Catamount. 

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, A catamount is any variety of American wildcat such as a lynx, cougar or mountain lion. The word originated from “cat a mountain” but is now considered archaic. 

Looking toward the summit of Catamount
My daughter does not consider fear of wild mountain lions, but concern that I may start sneezing if I encounter one. I am not sure what I would do if I encountered a catamount but sneezing is not on the short list. I thank her as always for her concern. 

Catamount’s 1.8-mile climb with an ascent of 1540’ and elevation of 3,173' is a more difficult hike, but one doesn’t need to reach the summit to get to the blueberries or a beautiful panoramic view.  The youngest in the group may require a "leg up" now and again. There are also parts that require jumps over streams, rock scrambles and a squeeze through a rock chimney. The trail is relatively flat in the beginning and fortunately a slight wind can keep any insects at bay.  
Catamount chimney, near the false summit

There are no trail markers to follow, just occasional paint slashes on trees. No trespassing signs flank areas as we continue along the path warning us to keep to the trail. After crossing a stream at about 0.7-mile, the trail climbs steadily in elevation with several rock scrambles. At about 1.4-miles we reach the first overlook. The ground is full of blueberry plants. We follow cairns and paint blazes to find our way to the rock chimney. The chimney is narrow, but the only hiker in our group that needs assistance is our dog.  It is a steep drop-off along the chimney so we keep close tabs on the youngest in the group. 

The next rock scramble is tricky, but a crevice runs the length of rock offering us a bit more purchase. We reach the false summit with more blueberries and a vast view of the High Peaks. Dragonflies keep the pesky insects at bay. 

Most people think that this is the summit, but that distinction is another 0.4-mile away.  All people people need to do is look to the north and see the true summit in the distance. It is challenging with more rock scrambles and narrow paths, but it is worth the extra half mile. At the summit we sit and enjoy the beautiful views of Taylor Pond and Union Falls Pond to the northwest and Whiteface and Esther Mountains to the south while eating our lunch. 

Catamount trail map
There is more than one Catamount Mountain in the Adirondack Park. This favorite hike is located near Wilmington, a short distance from Whiteface Memorial Highway. 

Take the county road to the right (Gillispie Dr) toward Franklin Falls. Follow the road for about 7 miles, turning right onto Plank Road. Drive on Plank Rd/Forestdale Rd for 2-miles. The trailhead and parking area is on the left. The trail crosses private property so please be respectful. 

1)   What is a catamount?
2)   What is a cairn?
3)   When rock climbing, what is a chimney?

1)   A catamount is a short-tailed wildcat with tufted ears.
2)    A cairn is a pile of stones used as a marker.
3)   A chimney is either a steep, narrow chute with parallel walls, or a wide crack that a climber can fit into.

  © Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Time™ guidebook series. Adirondack Family Time™guidebooks have easy, short Adirondack family hikes for ADK kids, parents, retired, seniors, dog-owners, Adirondack swimming holes, Lake Placid Olympic activities, Adirondack trivia, Adirondack horseback rides, Adirondack snowshoe family trails and more. Look for the Adirondack family guidebooks online or bookstores/museums/sporting good stores. Diane is currently working on the next Adirondack Family Activities™ guide.


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