Photo by Mike Lynch
Chris and Sheena Bracewell take in the view of the Great Range near the top of Noonmark.
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It was early evening as I sat atop Noonmark Mountain, enjoying the view of the Great Range under a clear sky, when a marten appeared 50 feet away. Within moments, it scampered across the bare rock of the summit, disappearing as quickly as it had appeared. 

Although it is relatively rare to see martens, I seem to be seeing them more frequently in the past year. Last summer, I spotted one near Lower Preston Pond while I was on a canoe trip. In addition, I’ve seen them at Marcy Dam a couple times and also one on Cascade Mountain. 

On Noonmark, I wasn’t actually looking for wildlife. Instead, I was intent on checking out the surrounding mountains. The Great Range, Dix and Giant mountains and Keene Valley can all be seen from the summit. 

According to the Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks region hiking guide, “the prominent, pointed peak (of Noonmark) lies almost directly south of Keene Valley and therefore ‘marks noon’ when the sun is directly over the summit.”

The reward for climbing the mountain is pretty high considering that the hike isn’t too long. It’s only a 2.1-mile hike up if you start on the AuSable Club Road off of state Route 73 and then stick to the Stimson Trail. There’s a junction for this trail six-tenths of a mile from the trailhead, which starts on a private dirt road. 

If you continue straight on the original trail, it’s 6.2 miles to Dix Mountain and 1.7 to Round Mountain. 

I would say it’s a half-day trip up Noonmark, although it shouldn’t be taken too lightly. The majority of the trip up this 3,556-foot mountain is fairly strenuous because the trail after the junction is pretty steep. Luckily, as you climb higher up the mountain, you are rewarded with numerous open areas with great viewpoints. So if you want to take a break toward the end, there are plenty of places to do so. 

I also noticed that as you climbed higher, there seemed to be more and more eastern white cedar, along with some red spruce. 

On the August day that I climbed Noonmark, I started at about 1 p.m. and got off the mountain at 7 p.m. I was on the summit for quite a while talking with various people I met up there. Plus, I enjoyed a period of solitude when I saw the marten and took in the views. 

Two of the people I met up there were Chris and Sheena Bracewell, a couple from Ottawa, Canada. The pair are experienced Adirondack hikers. 

“I would say this rivals the Marcy and Algonquin (view),” Chris said, with the backdrop of the Great Range behind him. 

The pair were especially impressed that the view extends in all directions from the top. 

After they left, 30 minutes later Andrew and Corinne Stokes from Gettysburg, Penn. showed up on top of the mountain. The two graduate students are brother and sister and were staying at their uncle’s place in the eastern part of the Adirondack Park. 

After talking with them for a while, I joined them on the hike down. I had originally planned to do a loop and continue hiking over the peak toward Round Pond, but I had lingered up top so long that I decided against it. 

On the way down, I encountered at least one tricky spot where you have to walk down a rock slab, which is pretty scratched up from winter hikers using crampons. 

By the time, we reached the trailhead, it was getting pretty late. But I still had one more thing I wanted to do this particular day.

On the way home to Saranac Lake, I stopped in Keene Valley at the mountain’s namesake, the Noonmark Diner, for a quick bite to eat. I decided to try out their popular homemade blueberry pie. It was the perfect way to end this short, but rewarding, hike.