I had a mid-week day off, on purpose, to avoid the crowds. While I wait for the High Peaks to become less crowded, I want to work on my endurance and strength so when I can hike the high peaks, I will be somewhat ready.
My wife and I decided on Bear Den Mountain today. It was actually our plan-b as we originally were planning to hike Cobble Hill Lookout. However, when we arrived at the trailhead for Cobble Hill, signage stated the trail is closed, due to COVID. Not sure the story on that, but will look into it.
We arrived at the trailhead for Bear Den Mountain around 7:30 am. It was a bit of a challenge finding the actual trailhead and sign in, but with the help of a construction worker, we were able to locate it. It is on the north side of the parking lot but is elusive as the signage is poor.
We eventually found the register and we soon signed in and were on our way. The trail starts out easily enough. It is worth noting the trail is a shared trail with mountain bikes for a little way, about 6/10ths of a mile (just passed the second marked intersection). You will know when because the signs will point you towards Bear Den Mountain, and you soon leave the shared trail and begin to climb.
The trail is easy enough to follow and is well marked. It looks like there has been a fair amount of foot traffic on the trail as it shows the stresses of heavy use. I suspect that there is a large influx on the lesser trails as people try to avoid the crowded more popular trails. Bear Den is one of those overlooked trails and is quite beautiful and rewarding.
We follow along a stream on our right for about 4/10the of a mile as we meander up, eventually veering away from it as the trail begins to switchback upward. The last half-mile or so of the trail moderately steepens and is slippery until you top out on the col below Bear Den Mountain.
From the col it is about a tenth of a mile before you come to the rocky outcropping of the summit of Bear Den, don’t be fooled thinking the first view is the summit. Keep following the trail, as you will come out again on a second outcropping. The trail eventually fizzles out from here. The views are quite spectacular and there is plenty of space to layout on the rocks and enjoy the views. We enjoyed the peak for about a half-hour before we made our way back down.
I logged 4.5 miles round trip
Ascent 1300 Feet