Snowless picnic on snow mountain

Gabrielle Connor and Ted enjoy the views from the top of the Snow Mountain. Photo by Cal Seely.

The perfect spring outing

by Cal Seely

Located at the lowest end of the Great Range, Snow Mountain is an often overlooked target in the heart of the High Peaks. With dozens of gorgeous mountains nearby, it’s no surprise that Snow sees so little traffic. But this mountain, when approached through Deer Brook, is the perfect hike for mud season.

Each spring, as the snow melts and the ground thaws, the trails weaken as new moisture flows in. Often the most sustainable form of recreation during mud season is to avoid certain trails, particularly those at higher elevations. DEC invites hikers to stay below elevations of 2,500 feet until warm temperatures harden the beds of the high-altitude trails.

Snow Mountain, at 2,370 feet, is not only an appropriate height for mud season, but also one of the most accessible peaks in the Keene Valley. The trail is not difficult, and difficult sections can be bypassed by taking alternate routes. Snow is family and dog friendly, and within the scope of people limited in time.

Due to its location, connecting other mountains to this elevation is easy to plan, and the most popular additional summit is the Rooster Comb.

It’s easy to miss the Deer Brook Trail, as the only demarcation is a small green AMR-style sign that stands next to a roadblock on Route 73 near St. Huberts. Park along the east shoulder of Route 73, directly across from the green sign.

choose the way

Here, hikers can choose either the high water route or the low water route. The latter sticks to the edge of Deer Brook, sometimes to the middle, and is thought to be more challenging. The trail passes through shaded hemlock and cedar forests and offers intimate views of the many beautiful waterfalls along Deer Brook. It is necessary to address the brief sections of the sharp scramble. After about three-quarters of a mile, the Low Water Trail meets the High Water Trail.

Ice mountain
Gabrielle Connor and Ted continue along Deer Brook via the intersection with the High Water Trail on the road to Snow Mountain. Photo by Cal Seely.

Alternatively, the High Water Trail follows the Deer Brook Way, a dirt road that avoids all water crossings and flowing sections within airtight Deer Brook. Please note that hikers are not allowed to drive the Deer Brook Way and park at a higher place to avoid walking in this section.

After doing this hike a few times, I’d encourage taking the low water road on the way up, then the road on the way down, conditions permitting. Avoid low water when the water is high and also during the winter as the trail can easily be lost.

Once the two paths meet, the trail follows an old moderately logging path until it reaches a spur trail to Deer Brook Falls directly over a footbridge spanning the river.

snow mountain trail
Deer Brook Falls on the way to Snow Mountain. Photo by Cal Seeley

The path behind the bridge and waterfall continues up and away from Deer Brook toward the shaft between Snow and Lower Wolfjaw. Hemlock and cedar trees give way to beech, maple, and oak once in the shaft. Soon the pass recedes and an intersection pointing to the top of the snow mountain is reached.

The section to the summit is short, but can be quite steep in places. Fortunately, some open boards offer amazing views toward the rocky summit of the Rooster Comb and the tall hills of Porter. The path continues up and over the summit and descends slightly to a steep ledge with views of Chapel Pond Pass, Giant Mountain, Dix Range, and the Ausable Club golf course just below.

Vital Stats: Snow Mountain via Deer Brook.

  • top height: 2,370 feet
  • Height gain: ~1300 ft
  • Miles (round trip): 3.5 miles

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