We chose Pitchoff as our first of the new year hike! We've seen Pitchoff a ton of times from the road and I've been excited to see this peak and the iconic "balanced rocks" for a while now.
We got to the trailhead around 9 am - it's winter so there wasn't any issues with parking but summertime I would plan to get there MUCH earlier as this parking is shared by Cascade & Porter hikers and right on the road.
Also, if you plan to hike this using a map guided by Altrails - the route recorded for this trail is incorrect. If you look at this hiker's route - he actually misses the summit and hikes beyond the peak and has to backtrack. We'll talk about that later in the blog, but I can see how easy that is to do!
The hike is really about 5.5 miles covering a little over 2,000 ft of elevation and you start climbing in this hike right away! The trail begins right off the road and just begins straight winding vertically up the wooded trail.
One of my favorite parts of the trail is how it comes in and out of the woods. You actually come out on some really beautiful sections that look directly in front of slides of Cascade. It's really neat!
As you continue on the trail there is one super fun exposed rock scramble which I really enjoyed. Right now it's like a sheet of ice which looks just incredible. Not too difficult to navigate either!
After approx 1.2 miles you'll see a fork on your right hand side towards Balanced Rocks. We did this first! It's only a short little detour off the trail to get to the massive boulders and don't miss this part of the hike because this is really the highlight! The boulders are just huge and this "fake summit" offers some incredible views. Overlooking downtown lake placid, next to Cascade and beautiful mountain views.
After snapping some photos we continued on to the summit. The summit is wooded so you won't get much views at all, and like I said in the beginning of this blog post - it is easily missed. It's honestly just a boulder on the right hand side of the trail and it's not even situated off the trail so we breezed right past it before checking the map and realizing we had passed it.
Luckily we knew it was coming up so we only passed it by a couple hundred feet. We backtracked to the official summit, sat on the boulder and enjoyed some lunch. Although not the best views at this summit, we were super happy with a fun hike, beautiful views at balanced rocks, our first official winter hike, and our first hike of 2021!