52 Weeks of Fun

Not Just Destination Finders, But Destination Storytellers


The Hiking Project

Ampersand Mountain Trail


Whether you’re a hardcore hiker looking for a challenge or a family taking a leisurely stroll to a wild pond, the hiking in and around Saranac Lake is hard to beat. Self-guided nature walks, cascading streams, remote views, and mountains of all sizes dot the landscape, and countless trails lead to an unending variety of adventures, including Ampersand Mountain Trail.

Ampersand Mountain's open summit provides breathtaking 360-degree views, but you'll have to work for it. The first half of the trail is fairly easy, but once it starts going up it's relentlessly steep until the top. Give yourself plenty of time to complete this hike, especially if you aren't an avid hiker.

From the parking area, carefully cross Route 3 to get to the trailhead. The path descends slightly to a brook crossing before starting an easy hike that gently rolls up and down through a mature forest for the 2.7 miles to the summit. At 0.8 mile there is a long boardwalk across a wet section; soon after that the trail begins a slow ascent, then it gets steeper as it approaches the location of the old fire observer’s cabin, on the right at 1.7 miles — rubble is all that remains of the building.

Past the cabin site, the grade increases and eventually becomes very steep as it reaches a stone staircase, which was built to alleviate the heavy erosion caused by water runoff and heavy foot traffic. The trail remains rocky from this point on. Take note that footing can be slippery along this stretch, especially during wet weather.

The path reaches a ridge and levels out at 2.4 miles, and soon after that, it enters a spectacular section with enormous, jumbled boulders the size of small houses. Take a few minutes to explore the narrow passageways here, then swing right to climb over open rock to the summit. Total elevation gain on this hike is 1,775 feet to an elevation of 3,353 feet.

From downtown Saranac Lake, turn right onto Route 3, heading west toward Tupper Lake. Follow Route 3 for about eight miles and the parking area is on the right, with the trailhead on the left.

Saranac Lake
The Hiking Project

A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Ampersand Mountain Trail

Ampersand Mountain takes its name from nearby Ampersand Creek, so named because it twists and turns like the ampersand symbol.

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  • Sponsored by: Saranac Lake
  • Ampersand Mountain Trail
  • Saranac Lake NY
  • (518) 891-1990