Thursday, September 6, 2018

Lower Wolf Jaw (ADK 22/46) August 27, 2018

Lower Wolf Jaw (4,175') via West River (#28), Wedge Brook (#33) and Lower Wolf Jaw Mountain (#5) Trails, 8/27/2018

Mileage:  9.8 miles (RT - not including our side trip to Beaver Meadow Falls)

Elevation gain: 3,031'

Trailhead: This hike starts at the St. Hubert parking area on Route 73 in St. Huberts, NY.  The parking lot is located 7.5 miles west of exit 30 off I-87; and 3.3 miles east of the Noonmark Diner (in Keene Valley). Parking is on the corner of Ausable Road directly across from Roaring Brook trailhead parking. The lot fills up quickly and parking is not allowed along Ausable Road or at the Ausable Club.  It's a half-mile walk up a small hill to reach Lake Road (and the AMR gate). Walk up Ausable Road and turn left between two tennis courts - the gate and gatehouse are directly ahead.  No dogs or bicycles are allowed.  

Hiked with Brenda today.  We got an early start as hot and humid conditions were forecast.

One of two small parking lots.

Parking area is limited.

Go between the tennis courts to get to the gate.

The West River trail is located to the right of the gate house, just before the gate.  After we signed in we went right, past the side of the gatehouse and down a wide path to the bridge over the Ausable River.

Don't go through the gate.

Gate house. 
Access to the trail.

Cross this bridge.

After we crossed the bridge we took a left, traveling south on West River trail.  There are several route options on this trail. We passed signs for the W.A. White trail and both ends of the Bear Run trail before finally reaching Wedge Brook trail, about two miles from the gate house.

It's a pretty mellow trail - follows the river.

Trail has yellow discs.

Keep going!

The trail junction is clearly marked.

Turn here onto a blue disced trail.

By the time we turned right onto Wedge Brook trail, the heat was settling upon us.  The cascades are nearby and we took a quick picture before continuing up. 

Portion of Wedge Brook cascade.

And up we went. For some reason I thought the steep part was....later!  Wedge Brook trail is a two mile path that climbs up the headwall of the cascade's ravine - of course it's steep! I was thinking Lower Wolf Jaw Mountain trail (the short section of summit trail that connects to Wedge Brook) was the majority of the elevation gain. The contour lines on the map don't lie, Wedge Brook is the lion's share of gain. Guess I confused the two trails. 

Though steep going, there are small areas of flat here and there.  We were already drenched from the humidity by the time we reached the campsite.

There's a sizable area for camping here.

The steeps continue above the campsite with rock steps and areas of erosion, though I'm happy to report the ground was dry and mud free for the most part.

Rock steps.

The first junction - to Upper Wolf Jaw mountain - can be confusing. The map shows three junctions in the immediate vicinity, making a triangle of trails. This is the first section of the triangle. Left takes you south to UWJ, Armstrong, Gothics, and the rest of the Great Range. We continued straight toward Lower Wolf Jaw, a path with views of the mountain's rock slides. 

Don't go left if Lower Wolfjaw is your goal.

Trail starts mellow.

Red discs for a short time,

The path flattens to an area with ferns; it's different, quiet.  After determining which among several offshoot paths was the actual trail, we reached the second junction of the "triangle."

Go straight, onto the trail to the summit

This brings you the ADK Range trail.

If you plan to tag Upper Wolf Jaw or other peaks of the Great Range, take the yellow disced trail here when you return from the summit of Lower Wolf Jaw. (For my previous trip report on Upper Wolfjaw, Armstrong and Gothics, click here.)

It's a steep but short jaunt to the top.  We spent a good amount of time trying to find the actual summit (no marker).  

Some fun scrambly things, no big deals.

Gets a little messy with erosion.

Nice view of the range from the trail.

The summit is a small clearing with two trail signs and partial views when standing on the nearby large rock.  Here is where the Lower Wolf Jaw Mountain trail ends and the W.A. White trail begins.  We poked around and found a path on the left to a viewpoint, and even went further up the main trail (which becomes the W.A. White trail) a bit to make absolutely sure we'd reached the summit.  When the trail started to descend the other side, we figured we'd gone far enough.  (Apparently the clearing and trail signs are considered the summit.)

Summit clearing.

Straight ahead: W.A. White trail.

Trail back to junction triangle .

Rock at summit.

Partial view (standing on rock).

Path on left with view.

After lunch we flew back down the trails and at the West River trail junction decided to go right and visit Beaver Meadow Falls. This added several miles to the day but it was early in the afternoon and we weren't ready to be done.  The side trip is well worth it!

To Beaver Meadow Falls!

The West River trail to Beaver Meadow Falls continues south along the river, a little rough in spots but it's easy to see where you need to be (just follow along the water).

Beautiful falls.

Bridge back over the river - to Lake Road (and back to the car).

I was surprised at how long the hike is from the falls to Lake Road (.8 miles). It spits you out about 2.5 miles from the gate, near the Mt. Colvin trail.  We walked the 3 miles back to the car and headed out for a beer at Big Slide.

Overall, I liked this hike.  It's short by high peak standards, allows you to enjoy waterfalls, and shows you a good time in the woods.