The Pinnacle (Santa Clara, NY)

The Pinnacle (1838 ft)
Difficulty: Easy, with some short steeper climbs
Date of Summit: 09/09/2012
Trailhead to Summit: 0.6 Miles
Trip Time: 1 hr, 15 Minutes
Ascent: 506 ft.

GPS Track of Pinnacle hike, including elevation profile

This short hike near Santa Clara, NY is a great hike for families with small children.  It is short in distance, light on serious climbing, and long on beautiful views.  Louise, Martin G. (age 8), Erik (age 4), Gigi (black lab/dachshund mix, age 3) and I played hookie from church on September 9 to do this little hike for the first time.  We had tried back in March or April, but, despite the warm weather and lack of snow, the access road, which is only seasonally maintained, was closed to traffic, with a locked gate.  This time, no such trouble!  This trail seems to be oft overlooked, and on our visit we had it to ourselves.

Gigi, the mountain goat

The access road is off of SR 458 just south of Santa Clara, NY on the left side of the road.  The turnoff can be hard to see when coming from the North, but is obvious when approaching from the South.  There is a traditional ADK signpost indicating "Pinnacle Trailhead" at the access point.  Once off of 458, it is about a 4 mile drive along a narrow dirt road/track through the woods.  There are two Y- style intersections along the way, and at each junction take the more heavily trafficked route (if memory serves, first to the right, then to the left).  After about 4 miles, you will see an obvious parking area to the left and the trail starts off to the right with a trail register.

The View

The trails begins easily and slowly climbs, passing by interesting boulders and LOTS of big-toothed Aspen.  Eventually, you come to a point directly underneath a large cliff, and at this point, the trail turns to the right to begin the final ascent to the summit.  At the top there is a picnic table as long as beautiful views to the North and West.

Erik, being himself

The five of us at the top

On our trip we saw a group of vultures soaring in the air as long as a beautiful hawk which, unfortunately, I was unable to positively identify.  After snacking and snapping photos for about 20 minutes, we began the return trip happy that we had found another short, easy hike to share with visiting friends.  If you have done much North Country hiking, it is our opinion that the Pinnacle compares favorably to the Owls Head hike in Franklin County (in Owls Head, NY, south of Malone), which has been a family favorite, and although it does not have the views of Mt. Arab or Mt. Azure, its shorter distance makes it very attractive and fun, particularly for families, or if you are trying to squeeze in a quick hike on the way to one place or another.

Martin holding a maple leaf that he found - fall is here!

New Contributor

Hello!  My name is Martin D. Heintzelman. I am a good friend of Dave Beck's, and since he has moved on to Wisconsin, he has offered me the opportunity to become a contributor to this blog.  I, and my family, can occasionally be seen in Dave's posts from his time in the North Country, and we love to hike, camp, and, just in general, be outdoors.  I will do my best to keep posting as we have new experiences in the Adirondacks, and I hope you enjoy my contributions.  With any luck, we'll have Dave back in New York on occasion to do some hiking, so you should see his smiling face every once in a while!  He and his family are truly missed in Potsdam, and, I'm sure, treasured in Wisconsin.  

My eldest son, Martin G. and I atop Cascade Mountain

On Wisconsin!

This is just a post to say that (unfortunately) I've moved away from the Adirondack Region, and will no longer be posting new trips to this page.  Please feel free to refer to my past posts for information on specific hikes and peaks in the park.  Who knows - perhaps I'll begin another blog about the wonders of Wisconsin wildlife.


Dave Beck