A close second in line to Belfry when it comes to the easiest fire tower climb, Cathedral Rock is a perfect hike for families because of its minimal elevation gain and short ascent to the summit. While not quite as accessible as Belfry from many areas of the Adirondacks, the view from the fire tower makes the drive worth it!
From the trailhead you will follow along a road (gated to vehicles) for a few hundred feet until you reach the trailhead on your right. As the mountain is by the Wanakena Ranger School, the trail will pass over some campus roads early on before it approaches some cliffs that the trail will take you around until you come out above them. Continue along to a small pavilion where you will find Tower Road, which takes you to the tower at the top.
Beginning from Cranberry Lake, head west on Route 3. When you reach Route 61, turn south (left) -- you will see a small sign for Wanakena. After 0.8 miles, take a left. After 0.2 miles you will be approaching the college campus where you will take another left onto Ranger School Road. After 1.2 miles you will have reached the SUNY Ranger School. Take a left within the school and look for the athletic fields (on the left) where there is a parking area. The trail will begin at the gated dirt road.
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Alyssa Devlin is a freelance writer who grew up hiking and skiing the ‘dacks and is now based in Washington, DC. She spends her days fighting the heat with daydreams of swimming in cool Adirondack lakes. You can find her at alyssadevlin.com.