Fulton Chain Trifecta – A Hiking Challenge for Families

The Fulton Chain Trifecta Hiking Challenge is a western Adirondack activity that is appropriate for the whole family. Located between Old Forge and Inlet, New York, I frequent these three trails quite often.

Having hiked all every season, I highly suggest trying to complete the hiking challenge in all four seasons. Each season brings a fresh perspective; like many other hiking trails, there is a winter patch (December 21- March 20) and a regular-season patch.

Meet The Mountains of the Fulton Chain Trifecta

Rocky Mountain

Bald Mountain

Black Bear Mountain

Rocky Mountain:

  • Distance: .5 mile to the summit
  • Elevation: 2,225 feet
  • Ascent: 433 feet

The trailhead is located about 10 miles northeast of Old Forge, just off NY-28 between Inlet and Eagle Bay. The parking lot is shared with the Black Bear Mountain trailhead which can make these two mountains great to hike in one day!

A Short and sweet trail with stunning views of 5th lake on its open summit. The hike is very short but steep and not technical! The trail can be tough to follow as many visitors make their own path – try your best to follow the trail markers to prevent trail widening.

I would start my Fulton Chain Trifecta Hiking Challenge here! It’s short and sweet, perfect for a beginner and a great sunrise hike for someone attempting an Ultra.

Girl laying on rock ledge
Enjoying Life on the Edge

Bald Mountain:

  • Distance: .9 miles to the summit
  • Elevation: 2,350 feet
  • Ascent: 500 feet

The trailhead is located approximately 6 miles outside of Old Forge, just off NY-28 on Rondaxe Road. This is an exciting and fairly easy trail that becomes very popular in the summer and fall months.

The summit provides beautiful views of the Fulton Chain of Lakes and the renovated Rondaxe Fire Tower which is the ideal place for a sunrise.

Due to the busy nature of this trail (and every trail), please remember to Leave No Trace and pack out whatever you bring with you on the trail! If you see garbage along the trail, pack it out for those who don’t know better.

The trail itself is a true beauty; more exciting with every step. You will hike along what reminds me of a dinosaur spine from your first ascent until you reach the fire tower. There are views from the summit itself and an even more spectacular look at the landscape from the fire tower. Arrive early, with appropriate layers and a headlamp, for a much more quiet experience.  

Fulton Chain Trifecta Hiking Challenge Rondaxe Fire Tower View
View From Rondaxe Fire Tower

Black Bear Mountain:

  • Distance: 1.9 miles to the summit
  • Elevation: 2,442 feet
  • Ascent: 761 feet

Black Bear uses the same parking area as another Fulton Chain Trifecta hike, Rocky Mountain! The trail for Back Bear starts at the end of the lot nearest the town of Inlet.

The longest of the three trails, Black Bear actually provides a few different trail options for your hiking pleasure. The shorter, 3.8-mile roundtrip hike is steeper and involves some light rock scrambling near the summit. It’s exciting and an absolute beauty in autumn and winter!

A Winter Hike Up Black Bear Mountain

For a more gentle incline, there’s a 4.7-mile loop trail that will bring you to the summit as well. Although this trail is longer, it is equally as beautiful and nowhere near as steep on the incline. You may choose to head back down the more gentle trail or descend via the shorter, steeper trail on the western side of the summit.

The summit of Black Bear is vast and leaves a lot of room for exploration. In autumn, the views, along with the vegetation on the summit, will leave you in awe.

Which Adirondack Hiking Challenge Should I Try?

After completing the Fulton Chain Trifecta, you may be hungry for more! If you’re looking for something with similar difficulty, I would give the Tupper Lake Triad a try.

If you’re looking for something a bit more difficult, I could consider the Lake George 12ster or the Saranac Lake 6er. Both of these hiking challenges include some longer trails and taller summits!

Sunrise View from the Rondaxe Fire Tower on Bald Mountain

Please remember to Leave No Trace, follow all DEC suggestions, and always ALWAYS leave the trail better than you found it. Print this PDF and send it in to register and receive your patch!

24 thoughts on “Fulton Chain Trifecta – A Hiking Challenge for Families”

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