Pilot Knob Mountain is the peak directly south of Buck Mountain on Lake George, NY. To hike it, drive to the Buck Mountain trailhead by taking Ridge Road (9L) to Pilot Knob Road (County Road 38), take it for 3.4 miles, and look for the trailhead on the right. Primary outdoor recreation included hiking and dog walking. Parking was free and abundant but water and restrooms were not provided. My cell phone struggled to maintain service and GPS coordinates while on the trail. There was a register which was important to sign in to because there were several trails that started from this trailhead.
The hike to the top of Pilot Knob Mountain was about 2.3 miles with an elevation gain of 1,400 feet; from 400 feet to 1,800 feet. The trail was not identified by the state of New York so it took a little bit of work to find. As a result, it was less popular than Buck Mountain and which meant it was a quieter and more peaceful experience. At the first intersection, we continued straight and followed the trail to Inman Pond.
From the trailhead, we hiked towards Inman Pond somewhere between 0.5 and 0.7 miles before turning right onto the trail to Pilot Knob. The intersection to look for was marked with a plastic ribbon on a tree and near the base of an incline. On the day we most recently hiked it, the ribbon was orange as seen below.
At the intersection with a ribbon, we took the trail to the right.
Once on the trail, we looked for and followed trees with yellow and red markings. At all times, we were able to see markings both in front and behind us.
Unlike the Buck Mountain trail which inclined gradually, this one inclined aggressively from the beginning and never tapered off.
In addition, the trail was rocky and full of tree roots. I do not recommend carrying a child in a carrier because of both its steep climb and rugged terrain.
I have hiked this about 10 times. One of its nice features has been that at the half way point we got views of Lake George whereas the Buck Mountain trail has not offered views until the very end.
On the edge of the trail, we spotted some blueberries.
Closer to the summit, we saw a beautiful orange flower. My best guess was that it was a Turk’s Cap Lily, do you think that is correct?
Unlike Buck Mountain, the summit was not clearly defined because there was not an official summit marker. We walked to the south side of the peak and set up a picnic on a large rock (seen in the foreground). The forested peak in the background of the next picture was a different one just south of Pilot Knob.
The pictures on this page were taken the second week of July 2010, which may have been the hottest, haziest, and breeze-free day I have ever experienced on Lake George. As a result, the view from the top was muted and we didn’t stay long because the sun was zapping our energy.
The video below was a 360 degree look from the top.
In sum, the hike up Pilot Knob has always been fun, challenging, and less popular/crowded than Buck Mountain. Additional Lake George hiking trails include Amy’s Park, Buck Mountain , Inman Pond , Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve , and Thomas Mountain and Cat Mountain.