Hiking Solo: Climbing Lake George’s Fifth Peak

By: Justin Devendorf

Living in Albany, NY provides one with the ability to be strategically located within driving distance of several distinct mountain ranges. Driving south on the New York State Thruway one could hike in the Catskills, driving east are the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts and to the north lies the Adirondack State Park. Within the Southern Adirondacks is Lake George, a 30+ mile long, narrow lake filled with islands of all sizes that’s surrounded by twelve mountains which make up the Lake George 12ster Challenge.

I felt as though doing a low elevation mountain on this sunny Fall day would be something I could handle.

On Thursday, October 5, 2017 after I getting out of my morning class and with nothing else to do for the rest of the day, I thought it would be nice if I did a solo hike. I normally don’t go on solo hikes; I know that many hikers do solo climbs and it’s possible to climb by yourself in a safe manner, but I’d rather (1) enjoy the outdoor experience with a group of friends, or (2) not put myself in a position where I need medical assistance and I’m all alone in the woods. While I would likely not do an Adirondack High Peak by myself, I felt as though doing a low elevation mountain on this sunny Fall day would be something I could handle.

The mountain I chose was Fifth Peak, located in the Tongue Range overlooking Lake George.

The Tongue Range is a twenty-five mile long peninsula made up six different mountains, with Fifth Peak located towards the peninsula’s center. The other mountains which make up the Tongue Range are First Peak, French Point Peak, Five Mile Mountain, Huckleberry Mountain and Brown Mountain.

After driving up the I-87 formerly known as the Adirondack Northway (but often simply just called the Northway) towards Bolton, I got off and made my way down a long, twisting road which followed the Lake as I made my way to the trailhead.

A pond located at the Fifth Peak trailhead (Photo: Justin Devendorf)

Once I arrived at the trailhead, I checked my Camelbak one last time to make sure I had everything I needed and plenty of water. Even though it was early October, in my opinion it’s always important to make sure one has enough water, no matter what time of year it may be.

When I was satisfied I had everything I needed, I set off on my solo journey up Fifth Peak. After signing in at the trailhead (which as I’ve stated before, you should always do every time you go out hiking) I noticed a trail marker which said the summit of Fifth Peak was 2.6 miles away with an ascent of 1,400 feet. As soon as I saw this, I wanted to challenge myself and attempt to make it to the summit in less than one hour. I re-tied my shoes, took a long sip of water from my Camelbak, and checked my phone to see the time. It said 11:58am. I waited until it turned Noon and up the mountain I went.

Hiking alone I found that I was more in control of the speed

The ascent up the mountain was not as challenging as I thought it would be, however, climbing up any mountain will work up a sweat, and Fifth Peak was no different. Hiking alone I found that I was more in control of the speed that I was going and that allowed me push myself harder in order to reach the summit within an hour.

The problem with hiking by yourself is that there’s no one to keep you company and have conversations with. I mostly let my mind wander freely as I took in the feeling of temporarily leaving my hectic, stressful life as a full-time law school student back in Albany and being at peace with nature. I love this feeling so much.

The view from the summit of Fifth Peak (Photo: Justin Devendorf)

I reached the summit of Fifth Peak at 12:56pm, with four minutes to spare. I took in the spectacular view. On one side of the summit was a clear view of Lake George, and on the other side was an unobstructed view of the Adirondack mountains in the distance. It was an amazing view and really made me appreciate how one did not need to travel to one of the 46 High Peaks to ensure they got a great view of the Adirondacks; there are phenominal views of the Adirondacks pretty much every mountain you climb. After spending twenty minutes on the summit eating my lunch and rehydrating, I began to make my way down.

The highlight of my descent was that I found one of the biggest toads I have ever seen near the trailhead. I love animals of all shapes and sizes, and I couldn’t help myself so I took a selfie with me and my new amphibious friend. Overall, I can say that this was a well-earned notch on my belt towards getting my Lake George 12ster badge.

A massive toad I found near the trailhead on my way back to my car (Photo: Justin Devendorf)

Trip Recap

Lessons Learned:

When hiking solo, just like hiking with a group, always make sure you are familiar with the trail as well as prepared for foreseeable and unforeseeable problems that may arise. Safety is always important!

Book Recommendation:

Favorite Gear Used:

  • Hiking boots

Gear They Wished They Brought:

  • Binoculars

Favorite Meal or Snack:

  • Turkey sandwich with Lays Potato Chips

Maps, Routes and GPS Information

Route Statistics: 4.77 mi, 1,725′ elevation


Caltopo Map: https://caltopo.com/m/LEM6

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