Scale it Your Way

Scale it Your Way

A Guide to the Adirondacks’ Catch-All Mountain

The Poke-O Experience

Poke-O-Moonshine, often referred to as Poke-O, is located just 25 miles south of Plattsburgh, New York. Poke-O provides phenomenal views rivaling those of the High Peaks, yet remains an accessible trek for hikers of any ability. Whether you are interested in hiking the mountain to the fire tower at the summit, seeing the old cabin ruins or rock climbing its face, there’s always something to discover at Poke-O. 

Follow the Ranger’s trail to the Lean-To

Poke-O-Moonshine, with an elevation of 2,180 feet, has two trails leading to its rocky summit: the Observer’s trail and the Ranger’s trail. The Ranger’s trail begins near the old campground and ascends along the side of the mountain for 1.2 miles. The trailhead is located in front of the campground parking lot. 

It’s an easy walk to the sign-in station before the trail passes between large boulders that mark the beginning of the trail. Here, hikers are met with immediate incline; man-made stone steps make the climb much easier. The steps continue for most of the Ranger’s trail. In the fall, the wooded areas of the trail burst with radiant yellows and oranges from the changing leaves. 

A short way up the trail, the trees give way to a view of the nearby mountains — another great opportunity to see the autumn colors.

 At the Lean-To

Poke-O holds many points of interest along its trails. The Ranger’s trail and the Observer’s trail intersect just below the summit at a junction marked by a lean-to. Continuing to the summit, the path skirts old cabin ruins that originally housed fire tower workers. The cabin burned in 1993, leaving nothing but a stone foundation and its chimney. 

Past the cabin, another steep climb and one last set of stone steps lead a short distance to Poke-O’s peak. The summit of the mountain is an open area of rock, and a fire tower watches over the nearby peaks.

Climbing at Poke-O

Poke-O has much more to offer than hiking. Rock climbers have long been drawn to the mountain’s east face. The mountain evaded mainstream popularity until the late 1950s, when climbers from Montreal pioneered routes that remain popular. 

Today, there are over 250 climbing routes, many of which are challenging to even experienced rock climbers. Climbers should approach only if they have experience dealing with more difficult routes. Wear a helmet, as there are many loose rocks. Ultimately, safely climbing Poke-O’s face requires proper knowledge of equipment and technique.

Story by Hayden Sadler

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