A great mountain for families and beginners, Mt. Jo's open summit ledges provide one of the best views of the High Peaks for relatively little effort. There are two trails to the top so it's easy to make a loop hike out of this adventure, although inexperienced hikers might find the Short Trail too steep for their liking.
- Elevation: 2,876 feet
- Elevation gain: 700 feet
- Distance: Short Trail, 1.1 miles; Long Trail, 1.3 miles
- Read the romantically tragic story behind how Mt. Jo got its name
- Follow Leave No Trace principles
From Lake Placid, go east on Route 73 and turn right on Adirondac Loj Road, the first right after the ski jumps. The parking lots are about 5 miles from Route 73. Be sure to pay the parking fee at the booth, even if no one is there. Take note that these parking lots often fill up early in the summer and on weekends. Consider a different hike if that's the case.
From the parking lot at the High Peaks Information Center at the end of Adirondak Loj Road, return to the entrance station and find the trail at the far corner of the snowplow turnaround.
The well established trail remains mostly level for about 300 yards to a wide trail on the shore of Heart Lake. Turn right and walk for about 60 yards to the true start of the Mt. Jo trail. After about a quarter mile of hiking uphill, there is a junction. The Short Trail goes right while the Long trail goes straight. The Short Trail is only 0.2 miles shorter, but it is considerably steeper and rougher, so the Long Trail is better for most family groups. The two trails rejoin just before the summit, and then it's an easy walk to the summit rocks, which are easily ascended via a series of wooden stairs.
Mt. Jo is a great choice for anyone who is new to winter hiking. As with any winter trail, snowshoes are a must for traction and to avoid postholing. Snowshoes will get you to the top on the Long Trail, but snow spikes may be necessary to traverse the Short Trail's steeper sections. Either way, it's a good idea to have them in your pack just in case.
Expect a drop in temperature as elevation is gained, and be prepared for cold winds on the open cobble. Always bring extra layers, especially for higher elevations, and don't hesitate to turn around if the weather starts to turn.