Ampersand is one of the most popular hikes in the Saranac Lake Region and is designated as one of the Saranac Lake 6er's. With an expansive stone staircase along the steeper sections of the trail it makes for a very unique hiking experience. Don't let the short distance fool you; this can be a tough little climb.
Primary Trailhead: From the intersection of Route 3 and Route 86 in Saranac Lake follow Route 3 toward Tupper Lake. Continue out on Route 3 for 8.1 miles to the Ampersand Trailhead. Parking is on the right; trailhead is located directly across the road on the left.
This 2.7 mile, one way, hike is over varied terrain which at times is quite steep. From the trailhead you will descend slightly to a brook crossing before you start an easy hike over a wide trail to a second brook crossing over a wood log bridge. On the opposite side of the bridge the trail will begin a slow ascent and slowly get steeper as it comes to the location of the old fire observers cabin on the right - rubble is all that remains.
Past the old site the climb gets much steeper and then very steep as the rock staircase is introduced. This stone staircase was built to alleviate the high amount of erosion that was created from water run-off and heavy foot traffic.
As the stairs begin to diminish a bit you come to a heavily eroded section through the trees where footing is erratic and a bit tricky. As you ascend higher you will come to open rock slab where the footing is a bit tricky and then a split in the trail. A right will lead over more open rock and left is a mud path through the trees, both reconnects to one another in a short distance.
Past this point the trail levels out and goes through a muddy area before swinging through a section of jumbled boulders the size of small houses and climbs the last bit to the summit over open rock. Outstanding views are had from the rock summit and the top should be visited for a while and many pictures taken.
5.2 miles RT, Ascent: 1775 ft, Elevation: 3352'
Time in hours:
Family with Young Kids: 3.0 hours to summit
Experienced Hiker: 2.0 hours to summit
Out of Shape Hiker: 2.5 hours to summit