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Saving the trail up Poke-O-Moonshine!

Posted: October 23, 2017

For hundreds of former and current campers at North Country Camps, Poke-O-Moonshine is a beloved, local hike.  It offers a spectacular view for a relatively short hike and the chance to climb up an Adirondack fire tower; a piece of regional history as well as a thrilling experience.  It’s part of our “back yard” at Lincoln and Whippoorwilll.  “Poke-O” is an iconic mountain for others too; its broad cliff-faces are a landmark for drivers on the Northway and an attraction for rock and ice climbers year-round.  It’s probably the most-climbed mountain in the Champlain valley.


However, many of you will remember that the original trail up Poke-O was steep and badly eroded.  It was created at a time when there was less use and less understanding of what makes trails durable.  Several years ago, conditions had gotten so bad that the Dept. of Environmental Conservation decided to close the old trail from the campground, in favor of the newer route that comes up from Lewis.  They did not believe that the trail was sustainable and didn’t have the funding to fix it.  The Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine, a non-profit organization that looks after the fire tower and the mountain, decided to launch a fund-raising campaign to fix this beloved trail and got the DEC to agree to keep the trail open if we could raise the money and do the work to fix it.  Pete Gucker and Doug Furman are both board members of Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine and NCC campers have been doing volunteer trail work on the mountain for years.  However, this project would require an amazing amount of highly-skilled work.

Thanks, in part, to the generosity of many NCC alums, the project is now well-underway.  Crews from Tahawas Trails and the Adirondack Mountain Club’s pro trail crew have completed some truly stunning rock work on the lower trail, as well as several re-routes.  Yesterday’s beautiful Fall weather made for a perfect hike to check out what’s been done.  As you can see, the talented trail work crews have built stone steps that are not only durable, but beautiful and sometimes even artistic.  Hikers will marvel at the way the rocks are joined together, fitting perfectly, often mixing the new stone steps in with existing bedrock and boulders.


Many of you have helped to make this work possible, through your donations; keeping this trail open for future generations of NCC campers, as well as the public.  We thank you for your generosity and if you haven’t yet donated and you’d like to, it’s easy to do through the Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine website:    We are hopeful that the fundraising can be completed over the next year.

If you find yourself in the area, you should definitely take this hike again and see this gem of a trail.  Happy Fall!


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