Photo by Spencer Morrissey
The summit of Split Rock Mountain provides incredible views of Lake Champlain.
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With the Split Rock Wild Forest there is something new around every corner, and summer is a perfect time to check out that something new.

The Split Rock Wild Forest is made up of 3,700 acres and lies on the shores of Lake Champlain in the eastern foothills of the Adirondack Park. This wild forest is made up of nine different trails, all of which intersect one another to make for nearly countless loops and adventures at your fingertips.

Want vistas, mountain views, wildlife, water access, wild flowers, birding, trail running, hiking, dog walking and family fun? Check out Split Rock for all that and more.

To get there just follow state Route 22 north out of Westport. Drive a short distance to Lake Shore Road on your right and follow it. Continue on Lake Shore Road for just under 5 miles to the trailhead on the right.

The following is a lineup of trails in the Split Rock Wild Forest. Go to the state Department of Environmental Conservation website for a downloadable map.


Lewis Clearing Bay and Snake Den Harbor Overlook

This trail is a destination in itself or can be combined with other shorter trails like Barn Rock Bay.

From the trailhead you will hike up an old road and gain some elevation right away. Passing by Gary's Elbow Trail on your right and the North Rim Trail to Split Rock Mountain on your left, you will then continue on a flat course.

After about 0.5 miles, the Lewis Clearing Bay Trail splits off to the left and drops a bit. The trail remains somewhat easy up to where the Snake Den Harbor Overlook Trail comes in on the right. Follow this to check out the overlook. The overlook trail is short spur trail that climbs a bit up to some fantastic views out over Lake Champlain.

Back at the intersection, to head down to the bay you will drop significantly and will have to reclimb. The rocky shore is an attractive destination with outstanding vistas out over the lake.


Barn Rock and Barn Rock Bay

To reach Barn Rock you will leave the Lewis Clearing Bay Trail noted above at where it splits. This right climbs a bit up over a shoulder of a knoll before starting a long continuous descent along an old road. This is a very peaceful area.

The Calamity Trail will come in on the right after about 1.1 miles. There is also a trail that is not marked well that comes in on the left. This trail/path leads over the rocky terrain and down to the top of Barn Rock. This is a highly recommended place to visit.

To reach the bay itself and the waterfront, you will need to stay on the main trail and descend a bit farther. Barn Rock Bay has a stellar view out over the lake and Barn Rock itself.


Split Rock Mountain Loop

By using three trails -- Lewis Clearing Bay, North Rim and Robin's Run --you can access the high ridge of Split Rock Mountain to make an interesting loop out of this half-day hike and take in some fantastic views out over Lake Champlain while you're at it.

Begin on the Lewis Clearing Bay Trail to the top of the first hill. From here the North Rim Trail will come in on your left. The trail starts climbing immediately, and after a short distance comes to the Robin's Run Trail on the left, which is where you will pop out on the way back.

Heading right, the trail again starts to climb and quickly reaches the ridge. Over undulating hills you pass along the ridge with a couple small lookouts along the way. While the lookouts are small, they are quite impressive.

The trail does not approach the actual summit of Split Rock Mountain, but comes rather close, a short bushwhack would be required to reach the summit area and some additional nice views.

You will leave the ridge on the north side and begin a long descent. While wet in a few areas the trail is in good condition. Robin's Run follows along the base of the mountain along an old woods road, through a gorgeous hardwood forest, but the trail does require you to climb back up the intersection you passed earlier in the trip.


Other options

The above are the main destinations within the wild forest, but there are also a few other trails that could be incorporated into your day to make for additional loops and scenery opportunities. Here are a few examples:


Gary's Elbow

This leaves the Lewis Clearing Bay trail about a quarter-mile in and climbs moderately over a bit of a slippery surface to reconnect with the Lewis Clearing Trail a bit farther in. This is a nice addition to a loop with Barn Rock Bay.


Cross-over Trail

This leaves Gary's Elbow Trail and connects to the Calamity Trail. This trail has some great scenery with wetlands, tall trees, slender trails and a very interesting narrow draw with steep walls.


Calamity Trail

This trail connects a very obscure trailhead off Lake Shore Road (closer to Westport) and Barn Rock Bay. The Cross-over Trail also leaves from this trail and the combination of the two could make for a nice loop from either trailhead for Barn Rock Bay as the destination.

From the Barn Rock Bay Trail, the Calamity trail climbs fairly steeply to the top of a decent-sized height of land. Along here, the trail meanders in and out of some very wet but attractive areas.