Cook Mountain Preserve
192 acres in the Town of Ticonderoga
Cook Mountain was purchased in 1876 by George Delano.
George fought in the Civil War, where he was wounded in the raid at Harper's
Ferry. After attending business school and then running a diner in
Poughkeepsie, George moved to the northern end of Lake George to farm the slopes
of Cook Mountain. He maintained a "sugar bush" for maple syrup and two
apple orchards, shipping the fruit to New York City.
The Cook Mountain Preserve was established in 1990 through
the generation donation of 176 acres by Donald and Marjorie Delano, George's
grandchildren. In 1995, the preserve was expanded by an 18-acre addition
donated by Dr. and Mrs. George Boyle. The preserve harbors a variety of
habitats, from moist wetlands and overgrown farmland to mixed
hardwood/coniferous forest and dry rocky-summit grassland. Remnants of
stone walls run up the mountain's slope, reminders of how different Cook Mountain
and the land surround Lake George looked when cleared for farms at the turn of
Cook Mountain’s open ridge provides exquisite views of
northern Lake George, the Champlain Valley, and Vermont’s Green Mountains. The one
and one-half mile Summit Trail passes through a variety of habitats from moist wetlands and overgrown farmland to mixed hardwood/coniferous forest and dry rocky-summit grassland. Remnants of a beaver lodge and dams, as well as rare wetland plants, such as Hill’s pondweed, can be spotted on the lower portions of the trail. From the rocky summit, you can enjoy an expansive view of northern Lake George with minimal shoreline development and imagine how the lake’s water quality would be compromised if these forests harbored buildings rather than trees, wildflowers, birds and other important creatures.
Starting from the parking area and kiosk the yellow trail follows a wide flat
path into the preserve. After about 0.12 miles the trail's loop begins. Stay
straight to follow the trail another 0.4 miles along a gently climbing path to
its junction with the Ridges Trail, or turn right to wind along the shore of
what was once an active beaver pond. The absence of beavers resulted in a
breached dam and loss of water; grasses and shrubs re-colonized the pond, and
it is slowly returning to woodland. After about 0.2 miles the trail joins the
Ridges Trail, marked with red round disks.
The Ridges Trail ascends steeply – 680' over 0.5-mile –
then climbs more gradually for the remaining 0.6 miles to an elevation of
1,213'. A short loop to an eastern view into Vermont is reached after 0.75 miles
from its base. Continue following The Ridges Trail to its end for a fantasic,
clear view down Lake George. Flat Rock and Anthony's Nose can be seen on the
left, and Roger's Rock on the right.
A new blue trail (starts at the yellow trail) takes you to
an historic cemetery dating to the Civil War. In the future, we hope
to restore it and provide interpretation.
Intensity: Moderate difficulty – steep climb to summit