The west trail hike up Baxter Mountain is relatively short – just 2.2 miles to the summit for a 4.4 total hike – and is rated as moderate, though much of the trail is easy. Expect to see others on trail, but don’t worry! Most of the people in this area are hiking the High Peaks surrounding this smaller mountain.
Views from the two ledges offer spectacular views of the High Peaks. The ledges offer plenty of room to enjoy a snack or lunch. You’ll definitely want to take photos, especially in the fall.
There are four sections to the trail, each one beautiful. The first mile is a flat walk through a pine forest, ending at a marsh. At the marsh you will see the Van Hoevenberg summit in the distance, making a great photo opportunity for your holiday greeting card.
Once past the marsh area you will enter the main section of the trail. This is a steady uphill climb leading to the summit section with its two ledges. The actual summit of the mountain is in the woods. If you have two cars, you can park one at the Olympic Center on NYS Route 73 so you can do a thru hike instead of an out and back from S Meadows Road. Personally, I favor an out and back hike on the west trail as it’s more beautiful.
Since the third section of the hike is through a hardwood forest with many maple trees, this is GORGEOUS in the fall.
Height: 2,939 feet
Elevation Gain: 892 feet
Distance: 4.4 miles
Directions: The trailhead for the west trail is located on S Meadows Road, accessed about 2 miles down Adirondack Loj Road on the eastern side of Lake Placid (off NYS Route 73). Park on Adirondack Loj Road if there is heavy traffic on S Meadows Road. It is a dirt road, best traveled in a high elevation vehicle, and it is narrow so navigating parked cars and turning around can be difficult. Also, as this is the same road hikers use to access the Van Hoevenberg trail to Mount Marcy and others be prepared for extreme heavy use. Expect a ticket from Park Rangers if you park badly on Adirondack Loj road: double parking, trapping other cars, disobeying signage.